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Greenlit: The Secret Millions, Channel 4

The Secret Millions (5 x 60′) – Documentary series that follows five Channel 4 faces – Gok Wan, Katie Piper, Jimmy Doherty, Dave Fishwick and George Clarke – as they work with charities on the frontline developing new projects – meanwhile secretly trying to help secure £2 million of Lottery money that could turn the big idea into reality. From a radical approach to turning ex-prisoners’ lives around, to getting unemployed young people trained up and fit for work – the projects could bring new thinking to big problems and change lives.

In 2011, Channel 4 teamed up with the Big Lottery Fund to ask the nation to decide which five themes were their priorities for funding during the current financial climate. The results were used to decide which five exciting and innovative projects across the UK should get a total of £10 million of Lottery money.

Each week, The Secret Millions follows a celebrity working with a charity to test out a bold idea dealing with big social issues. The people they work with have no idea that behind the scenes the Big Lottery Fund are assessing the project throughout and the Channel 4 celebrities are working with the charity bosses in hopes of convincing BIG to give away millions of pounds to turn the project into a reality. The Channel 4 talent are working on ideas to which they have emotional connections and are able to add real value to through their relevant skills and talents.

Getting involved on the front line, the Channel 4 talent will experience first-hand the issues facing the grassroots workers and the beneficiaries in need of help. With their support, the celebrities will help set up a trial-run of an innovative project conceived by the charity – when really, it is part of the secret bid to win millions of pounds of Lottery funding.

The projects will range from working on employment prospects for disadvantaged young people and jobs for ex-prisoners, to helping families with disabled children and innovating in social housing. Drawing on their own personal experience, skills and contacts to improve the idea, the Channel 4 celebrities hope to persuade the Big Lottery Fund that the projects really are worthy of this life-changing funding. If they are successful, the celebrities will reveal the secret millions at exciting and emotional surprise events.

Over the weeks, the cameras follow the hard work, the emotional strains and the exhilarating moments. Throughout, the charities, beneficiaries and Channel 4 faces learn to work together on these innovative ideas – providing emotional support, a better future or a second chance to those in need.

The five projects are:

  • Youth unemployment is high and job centres are failing to engage young people with the idea of finding a job. But what if the job centre was reinvented by young people, for young people? The Foyer Federation and Dave Fishwick start a ‘Pop-up Talent Shop’ that will go into the heart of deprived communities. Instead of the unemployed going to job centres, employers can go to them in the form of pop-up talent shops. The shop will be designed to encourage young people into the work place and away from crime and introduce employers to people they would never normally consider hiring. Young people from challenging backgrounds will help devise, design and run the ‘job shop’. Like a travelling circus, it will move into the community to attract the young people and to have a go at different jobs.
  • Gok Wan teams up with Kids Company, who work with young people from seriously disadvantaged backgrounds. These young people struggle to get work as their behaviour would see them being kicked off normal training. Kids Company believe they have a solution which combines training with their own brand of unique support. Gok Wan takes on the task of teaching a crash course in fashion to inspire the young people, whilst also dealing with the students’ major behavioural issues.
  • Jimmy Doherty works with leading disability charity Papworth Trust, to open a unique respite care retreat on a working farm, for families caring for mentally disabled children and young adults.The farm will offer a break to the families as well as providing a bespoke programme of activities aimed at helping them overcome problems in their day to day lives.
  • After being released from prison, having a job is one of the most significant factors in preventing reoffending. But a criminal record makes finding work extremely difficult for many. Katie Piper and Acumen Development Trust set up a workshop for ex-offenders – designing, manufacturing and marketing high-end furniture. The business will be run and staffed by ex-offenders, guaranteeing them employment on release from prison.
  • George Clarke helps design a programme with London Youth bringing together retired craftsmen and unemployed youth to refurbish derelict social housing, making them available for people on the housing waiting list. This bold idea not only helps develop skills that will help young people find jobs, but works to overcome the divides between the generations, and also makes houses available for the hidden homeless.

Channel: Channel 4

Producer: RDF Television / Twenty Twenty

TX: 17th March 2013

Source: Channel 4 press release

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