In an open letter published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), footballer and child food poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford has urged more low-income families to sign up for the government’s Healthy Start Scheme.
He is calling on health professionals to spread the word about the scheme, in a bid to increase take-up among eligible families. He says that many families do not realise they qualify for Healthy Start vouchers and are missing out on the scheme’s benefits.
In the letter, Mr Rashford explains that nearly half of families eligible for the voucher scheme, i.e. those in receipt of a welfare benefit and who have at least one child under four or are pregnant, are still not registered.
The Government’s Healthy Start scheme provides eligible pregnant women and families with free vouchers worth £4.24 a week to exchange for milk, infant formula, fruit, vegetables and pulses.
In the letter he writes, ‘Healthcare professionals are in a position to highlight the Healthy Start scheme to eligible parents, and I would very much appreciate it if you would consider collaborating with us on communicating and educating people about the scheme when possible.’
‘I’m confident that the majority of these parents can be found in communities just like mine, where I grew up – no internet, no high street, no word of mouth.’
He adds, ‘We need you to help us reach those most in need in our communities, especially given the planned digitisation of the scheme this autumn, which will disproportionately disadvantage those without easy access to the internet.’
The full story, as reported by Nursery World, can be found here.