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Channel 4 announces it's biggest ever TV giveaway

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Channel 4 and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) join forces

Channel 4 and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) have joined forces in the channel's largest ever TV giveaway. As part of a major new series, £10 million is available to back radical ideas tackling some of Britain's big issues.

From the producers of The Secret Millionaire, this five-part documentary series will follow five Channel 4 faces 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.

Ordered by Documentaries Commissioning Editor Emma Cooper, The Secret Millions builds on the legacy of The Secret Millionaire, and takes the format to a new level - working with an enthusiastic and experienced team of Channel 4 experts. Gok Wan, Katie Piper, Jimmy Doherty, Dave Fishwick and George Clarke help a range of charities develop innovative and ground-breaking projects that could have profound, positive effects for those in need.

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 by BIG to decide which five exciting and innovative projects across the UK should get a total of £10 million of Lottery money. This is the largest amount ever handed out on a Channel 4 series.

Emma Cooper said: ‘It has been fantastic to watch Channel 4 talent get behind these amazing causes. In such austere times these projects are making a real difference to people in the most far-reaching ways. We are proud to have been involved and this series highlights just how important it is to support ideas for successful, sustainable and social enterprises.'

Each week, The Secret Millions will follow 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.

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: ‘The Secret Millions is one of the most exciting projects we have ever been involved in. Offering possible access to considerable sums of our good causes cash as part of Channel 4's largest ever TV giveaway, knowing the huge difference that it could make on issues the public prioritised, has been an excellent experience.

‘The efforts of the charity staff, volunteers and all those involved prove that the selfless spirit of helping others is alive and well. In tough times, the work these charities do is ever more important and I hope The Secret Millions experience will lead to a greater public awareness of such good causes and the opportunities there are for everyone to get involved.'

The five innovative 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.

The 5 x 60m series is produced by RDF Television (a Zodiak Media company) and Twenty Twenty (a Shed Media company). The executive producers are Tayte Simpson (RDF Television) and Meredith Chambers (Twenty Twenty).

The Secret Millions will begin on Sunday 17th March at 8pm on Channel 4.

For further information about the series: Cécile Quinney cquinney@channel4.co.uk / 0207 306 1095

For pictures: Nathalie Mohoboob nmohoboob@channel4.co.uk

For the Big Lottery Fund:

Sara Brown sara.brown@biglotteryfund.org.uk or Stuart Gannon stuart.gannon@biglotteryfund.org.uk / 020 7211 1888 or for out of hours 07867 500 572

Notes to Editors:

About the £10 million from the Big Lottery Fund

As part of the Big Lottery Fund making the £10 million available, the public was given a say on which issues they wanted to see funded. Launching a call-out in 2011, Channel 4 and the Big Lottery Fund asked people how they would spend £10 million of Lottery money in the current climate - via channel4.com/thebigdecision and commissioning a UK-wide Ipsos-Mori Poll of 2000 people. The results helped the Big Lottery Fund identify five charities who had devised exciting and innovative projects.

About Millennium Now - The Big Lottery Fund (BIG)

The Millennium Now programme, builds on the findings of BIG's Millennium Now report launched in May 2011 to mark the legacy of the Millennium projects ten years on. It aims to fund inspirational projects reflecting the five Millennium themes:

  • Encouraging Environmental Sustainability
  • Investing in Education
  • Places - tackling issues related to rural areas, urban or coastal areas
  • Connecting Communities
  • Promoting Science, Technology and Health

The five projects types chosen by BIG following the nationwide call-out October 2011 via Channel 4's channel4.com/thebigdecision and Ipsos-Mori Poll were:

  • Helping disadvantaged families to be healthy and live well.
  • Helping different generations to share their skills with each other.
  • Getting communities volunteering to address environmental issues.
  • Bringing people together to tackle local issues.
  • Helping disadvantaged young people to learn new career-based skills.

About the Big Lottery Fund (BIG)

  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6bn.
  • The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

This is the first time BIG has asked the public to help design and develop a grant programme from choosing the programme themes to the types of projects and beneficiaries they want funded.

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