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An open letter is a means of venting, voicing, communicating and encouraging change that has been around for some time now, but very rarely do you see an example that has as much precision as it does passion

Marcus Rashford’s open letter to Government about school lunch vouchers for children over the summer should be a lesson to us all on how to capture an audience and lead the change charge one word at a time.

Here’s why I think he’s come up trumps:

Precision over passion

It’s not very often that passion is topped by anything – and rightly so in my book – but when focusing on a form of communication, such as an open letter, the outcome must be precise. The call to action must be clear and the change or want or dream irrefutably obvious. No child should go to bed hungry – reintroduce school lunch vouchers.

All too often the messages in open letters get tripped up or diluted with passion and purpose. I’m not for one moment suggesting that these aren’t important, but for a written letter that is championing change, is it the most important factor? Or is taking action, stating what you want changed and being clear about how your calls can be answered going to take precedence? It could be the crucial distinction between your requests being heard and your letter being tossed away. Keeping his argument cohesive and not getting distracted by the classic ‘oh and another thing…’ mentality, has left no confusion over his intentions.

Arguably, for a speech, perhaps passion and purpose may jostle for first place, but an open letter demands clarity and an unfaltering call to action above all else.


At no moment did I doubt why Rashford dared to have a voice on such an issue. He made me understand why it was so important to him, and why he had a right to raise the issue, and importantly, why I should care. He’s been in the shoes of many of the children that he was talking about. Thankfully, he wears very different shoes these days, but his powerful storytelling, his ability to share his truth and his experience has helped him showcase this issue and call for change effectively. When pushing for change, authenticity helps bring people on the journey with you. This can be the difference between what feels like shouting into an empty room and having a captive audience that’s going to shout alongside you.


Peppered throughout Rashford’s open letter was a scattering of statistics that you can’t argue with. He’s allowed the reader to conjure up images of just how many children are living below the poverty line. Illustrating the size of the stadium ensures that the audience knows how significant these problems are, even if they don’t remember the exact figures. Not only that, but he’s talking to his audience in their shared language – he’s keeping his football connections front of mind – and he’s playing to his strengths, his army, his fans.

And importantly, it’s very difficult to argue with the facts.


Calling for change, even from the Government, doesn’t have to be complicated. His intention was to capture an audience, make them understand his point and encourage change – this didn’t need complexity. His simple language in fact supported his call for a simple solution, albeit with a very far reaching impact.


You can tell by Rashford’s communication style that he hasn’t got too big for his (football) boots. He’s highlighted his humble beginnings, the support he’s been lucky enough to have in his early years and also subtly nodded to his current efforts to tackle poverty with his connections to food distribution company, FareShare. He has also mentioned how lucky he is to be stood where he is today – a far cry from many children who now look up to him. And, this makes his message more heart-warming, honest and moving. This makes his letter all the more impactful. This ensures his credibility.

Let’s not forget that not everyone has a platform like Rashford to drum up change, but we all have a voice, and carefully picking the perfect format, style and tone can certainly help you to drive forward change when you think it’s needed.


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