The Rainbow’s End charity shop and safe space for vulnerable people in Burngreave, Sheffield, has received a six-figure sum from a volunteer on a television programme.
Interior designer, Simrin Choudhrie, aged 29, made the donation after going undercover to help out at the shop for the Channel 4 television series, 'Secret Millionaire'. The programme will be shown in the evening on 3 May.
The project also offers training and placement opportunities for people who are finding it hard to get back into work, who are isolated, or who are asylum seekers or refugees.
Choudhrie is descended from Indian royalty and heiress to a fortune. At the time of filming, she was seven months pregnant with her first child.
The programme's makers contacted Church Army project supervisor Yvonne Hayes who said Choudhrie had helped people in Burngreave to feel valued.
She commented: “The volunteers and I were so impressed with Simrin and the way she got involved in the day-to-day running of the shop. She worked really hard, was fun to be with and quickly became part of our Rainbow’s End community and family. She showed great integrity throughout the whole experience.”
Hayes said: “We run Rainbow’s End on a shoestring budget, so this money will help us develop the community and fulfil some of the dreams of our volunteers."
She is planning to use the donation to buy an additional building where the charity can offer more people practical training, one-to-one support and a space to reflect on life.
Mark Russell, the Church Army charity CEO, said: “Rainbow’s End is making such a difference to the lives of people in Burngreave both practically, emotionally and spiritually. This amazing donation from Simrin Choudhrie came as such a surprise and Church Army is extremely grateful to her. I’m so proud of Rainbow’s End and am excited to see how Yvonne will develop this project to impact the lives of even more people.”
Poverty campaigners say that donations of this kind can make a huge difference, but should not be seen as a substitute for social justice.
"This is good news, but it is important not to fall for the romantic illusion that society's ills can all be solved by a few generous rich people," one anti-poverty worker, who preferred not to be named, told Ekklesia this morning.
"The roots of inequality and injustice that create poverty and marginalisation need to be tackled," she said. "And we must not forget that billions are being slashed in social welfare spending."