Bobby Dudani, who founded Computer Exchange/CeX back in 1992, appeared on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire programme tonight, giving away tens of thousands of pounds.
He worked undercover, disguised as someone who had lost a shop in the London riots of 2011, claiming he was making a documentary about what had happened – the perfect white lie to get him close to some of the people who might benefit from his financial aid.
The London riots of 2011 badly impacted retailers. Ten of CeX’s stores were damaged during the riots. Afterwards, the Association of British Insurers said they expected the insurance industry to pay out in excess of £200 million. During the course of Secret Millionaire, Dudani was keen to get closer to finding out why the riots happened.
He stayed on the New Addington estate in Croydon during his stint as a Secret Millionaire, and got involved in local projects such as the Pandemic Steel Orchestra, the New Addington Boxing Club and the Croydon Auto and Bikes project - ultimately giving the project leaders involved tens of thousands of pounds to help keep them going and keep on improving the community. At the end of the programme, he also offered one young man, Alex - who wanted a job but had a lengthy criminal record - a chance to work for a local businessman for a year.
Dudani came across as someone who clearly believes in second chances, particularly for more disadvantaged youths who aren’t perhaps offered them very often - in clear contrast to his own youth.
The youths in question didn’t exactly make it easy for Dudani to remain sympathetic, but he persisted in trying to find out what made them so frustrated in the first place.
"We've got to get kids off the streeets, or stores like mine, or Mr Patel's or whoever's, they're going to get their windows smashed," he said.
Dudani conceded that it's easier to say the above than to do anything about it, and that's the real challenge, isn't it? A millionaire may be able to make a small difference in Croydon on one estate, but what do you do for all the rest of the children (or the more grown up variety of looter?) smashing in windows because they think they are owed the latest TV? Working on the communities they live in has got to be a good start.
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