The Secret Millionaire is one of Channel 4’s leading television shows with up to 3 million viewers. The show follows its benefactors as they go incognito into impoverished communities and help individuals who are less fortunate or who have fallen on difficult times. You can learn more about the programme on the Channel 4 web site here.
I spent ten days in Wolverhampton working with a number of charities, some of which were based inside Brinsford Youth Offenders’ Institution.
Not all of the charities feature in the final programme, but details of them all are below.
- Shannon Trust runs the Toe by Toe Reading Plan, an award-winning peer mentoring programme which encourages and supports prisoners who can read to give one-to-one tuition to prisoners who struggle to read. I was introduced to Toe by Toe by the unbelievably dedicated Jo at HMYOI Brinsford and was absolutely amazed by the fact that so many 18 – 21 year old lads couldn’t read. Not a word. Clearly, if you can’t read, your life choices are extremely limited and the probability of a return visit to prison is high. In fact 64% of prisoners re-offend within two years following release. An exceptionally high proportion of these offenders have very poor reading skills. Not surprisingly, over 90% of all employment in the UK requires employees to be able to read – half of all offenders leaving prison are unable to do this.
- Each year 160,000 children in the UK suffer the trauma of the imprisonment of a parent. Although this can be traumatic for the parent, and especially young offenders with young children, the children suffer from the loss of a parent. One of the young fathers I met in HMYOI Brinsford resorted to self-harm as a direct result of being separated from his young son. Keeping families in contact helps to reduce re-offending by up to six times. Storybook Dads helps maintain the vital emotional bond between prisoners and their children by helping offenders to record bedtime stories on CDs and DVDs. Whilst in Brinsford, I recorded a CD for my daughter and she loves it.
- Engage Youth Empowerment Services (E.Y.E.S.) is a citywide collaborative grassroots organisation, which aims to provide a safe environment for all young people to express themselves creatively and to engage vulnerable young people in programmes that instil self-esteem, purpose and awareness to steer them away from negative peer pressure and anti-social behaviour. The E.Y.E.S. team, run by Helen and Jenny, who have recently secured a dedicated building for E.Y.E.S., was in the process of raising funds for its planned ‘Rough Diamondz’ show, which will be a powerful musical play depicting the reality of young people who feel trapped by their circumstances or wrongly defined by their community.
- The African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) is a holistic and comprehensive support service for African Caribbeans affected by mental ill health. ACCI’s services include supported housing and advice, day opportunities, specialist outreach and an extensive and holistic counselling and therapeutic service. I met the impressive Alicia who has dedicated her life to helping those with mental ill health in a holistic manner that focuses on the individual and underlying personal and social issues as opposed to their diagnosis. I was incredibly impressed with Alicia and enjoyed a ride in the park and a caribbean cookery class with a group of service users. I am now a Patron of ACCI. You can learn more about ACCI here.