In a first for Secret Millionaire, self-made multi-millionaire Piers Linney has a unique opportunity: the chance to volunteer in a prison for young offenders.
Piers has a CV a mile long. His role as CEO of a multi-million-pound communications company is just the latest in a string of success stories: he’s been a city banker and a hedge fund manager, and now he’s an entrepreneur. And at just 40 years of age, this comprehensive school boy has been named one of the top 100 most influential black people in the country.
Piers grew up a long way from the Square Mile in a small Lancashire mill town where he recalls a childhood as the only black kid in the area, and all the challenges that came with it. And although Piers now lives in a million-pound London townhouse, he confesses that he still goes to City meetings where people assume he’s the courier.
Now Piers is heading to Wolverhampton to look for people who might benefit from his help… in a prison. For nine days, Piers volunteers with the charities that operate inside Brinsford Young Offenders Institution. Piers meets Jo Stoneley, who runs a literacy scheme called Toe by Toe. Sixty per cent of the prison population have problems reading and Toe by Toe use a mentor system where prisoners who can read tutor those with low literacy levels.
Piers also meets Alan Smith, who runs Brinsford’s arm of national charity Storybook Dads. With approximately 160,000 children separated from parents in prison, Storybook Dads allows prisoners to record bedtime stories on CDs that can be sent home. As Piers gets to know the young inmates at Brinsford better, he begins to understand the reasons why they’ve ended up on the wrong side of the law, and he’s forced to ask himself whether direct personal help to a prisoner can ever be right. Should philanthropy know any bounds?
Tuesday 10th May, THE SECRET MILLIONAIRE, Channel 4