Channel 4 and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) have teamed up and this evening will kick start the biggest ever television money giveaway. The organisations have £10 million at their disposal and the cash will be handed out to those in the community with radical ideas about how to tackle some of the country’s biggest problems.
Over the course of the series, five famous Channel 4 stars will undertake various projects to find worthy causes and charities for the funds and they will secretly try to help the teams land £2 million of funding, which can be used to further projects and plans and most importantly, ground breaking ideas.
Tonight’s first episode sees Katie Piper working with a charity that aims to help rehabilitate former prisoners. The statistics are shocking, 90% of prisoners who are serving short sentences have been convicted of a crime before and most of them have done prison time previously. It has been proven that providing former prisoners with a job is one of the surest ways to stop them reoffending but a criminal record often gets in the way of this being achieved.
Katie pays a visit to Acumen Trust who run a carpentry outfit in Durham prison. They are making it their aim to expand the project and work with more inmates and former prisoners after their release. They are keen to employ more staff who will take on roles in both manufacturing and in marketing high-end furniture and home products.
Having been a victim of crime herself – in March 2008 sulphuric acid was thrown in her face – this is a personal challenge for Piper and kick starts some strong emotions in the 29 star.
However, she tells the team that she is keen to get involved and to out her experiences to good use, in trying to help those who have been convicted of a crime to move forward and change their life, after they re-enter society.
Her time with the charity starts in a local community centre and Piper assists staff member Pamela, to find new recruits, and later helps the team start the production of a new range for the business.
As they work together, the volunteers and former prisoners open up about how difficult it is to leave prison with no opportunities or support and admit that it’s often easier to return to a life of crime to support themselves.
In the end, Katie gets more attached and invested than she expected, but the final decision over funding lies with the board at the Big Lottery Fund and it is that team who will decide whether the £2 million will be spent well by Acumen Trust.
Tonight, Channel 4, 8PM. Leave your comments below…..