LONDON – A Fresh Expressions project run by an evangelist with Church Army has been awarded a six-figure donation by a "Secret Millionaire."
The Rainbow’s End project in Burngreave, Sheffield, runs a charity shop as a safe place for those in need. It also offers training and placement opportunities for people who are finding it hard to get back into work, are isolated, or are asylum seekers or refugees.
Millionaire and interior designer Simrin Choudhrie, 29, made the donation after going undercover as a volunteer at the shop for the Channel 4 show "Secret Millionaire" on U.K. television.
Choudhrie is descended from Indian royalty and heiress to a fortune. She is married to Bhanu Choudhrie, who is the director of investment firm C&C Alpha Group and was previously Asian Entrepreneur of the Year.
At the time of filming, Simrin was seven months pregnant with her first child.
The program's makers contacted Church Army evangelist and project supervisor Yvonne Hayes about making the show at her shop last year.
She was told that a documentary was being filmed about a vulnerable mom-to-be who was moving to Sheffield and wanted to get involved in the local community.
She said Choudhrie had helped people in Burngreave to feel valued.
“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 told of how she was left speechless when Simrin revealed her true identity.
“We are amazed and thrilled. When Simrin revealed her true identity to me and the amount she was going to give to us, I just couldn’t speak – and that’s unusual for me! “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."
Hayes 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 Christian space to reflect on life.
"But it is still really important that people continue to support the shop, as customers and through donations, as this will help future progress," she added.
Mark Russell, Church Army Chief Executive, 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.”
The "Secret Millionaire" episode will be broadcast on May 3.