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Pagefield, the leading independent communications agency, has published a robust defence of campaigning and announced that the Free School Meals campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford and the Food Foundation won a public vote to be crowned the best campaign of the past decade.

Earlier this year, Pagefield convened a panel of opinion leaders from across business, media and the communications industry to select a Top 10 list of the best campaigns of the past 10 years, based on each contender’s legislative, media and cultural impact on UK politics and society. The shortlisted campaigns were then put to a public vote.

The Free School Meals campaign ultimately led to the UK Government providing £400m over 12 months to support poorer families with the cost of food and household bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. It beat stiff competition from other major campaigns including the Vote Leave campaign for the UK to exit the European Union, and the campaign for “Sarah’s Law” to allow ordinary people to have controlled access to view the sex offenders register.

The result of the public vote was revealed alongside the publication of Pagefield's ‘Case for Campaigning’ report. The report contains original research, polling and interviews with a wide range of campaigners, as well as exclusive public polling which reveals that 54% of the public think campaigning is a positive force in society.

Mark Gallagher, Founder at Pagefield, said: “I am unashamedly pro-campaigning. It is time for all those who seek to influence the decision-making of Government and public bodies to be less apologetic, less defensive about the work we do.

“Instead, we should insist on the best and most effective regulation; we should demand that those who bring the practice of campaigning into disrepute are held properly to account; and we should be proud of the work that we and others do. It’s time to make the case for campaigning.”

Anna Taylor, Executive Director at the Food Foundation, said: “We are delighted to receive this award which shows the issue of food poverty is now firmly on the map, and we are extremely grateful to Marcus Rashford for his hugely successful involvement in the campaign. Food poverty is not an issue that has gone away however, and if anything it has got worse. The campaign to give all children access to a decent diet has become more urgent than ever and we hope everyone will continue to support it by joining our campaign to write to MPs”