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Millionaire humbled by visits to charities
BEFORE his visit to Cowley Road, secret millionaire Arfan Razak had two rules written on the kitchen walls of his chain of restaurants.
Number one: “Do things as I want them”. Number two: “See number one.”
But after a humbling visit to three of Oxford’s homeless and mental health projects, he has added a third – “I am not always right.”
The father-of-three is the latest entrepreneur to appear on The Secret Millionaire programme, which sees wealthy individuals go into impoverished communities and give them money.
Mr Razak made his fortune with a chain of Indian restaurants called Curry Lounge, and is due to appear in Monday’s episode on Channel 4.
He says he has learned a lot from his experience, and admits he used to cross the street to avoid homeless people.
But after going incognito as Nottingham taxi driver ‘Nad’ he has changed his mind.
The programme matches millionaires from outside the area so they can’t be recognised by local people. Mr Razak was able to convince mental health charity Restore and the Cowley Road soup kitchen he was a trainee chef.
In the show he is given a dressing down by the famously no-nonsense Icolyn ‘Ma’ Smith who has run the soup kitchen in Manzil Way for more than 20 years.
He also addresses his own family history of depression after working alongside people with mental health problems in the Restore cafe.
Mr Razak said: “My mother suffered with depression but for years. We didn’t talk about it, which tends to be the Asian way.
“I also became depressed after a car accident which left me in and out of hospital and in a wheelchair for two years.
“What I found at Restore was an oasis in a busy area, giving people at the lowest ebb in life a helping hand, a smile and encouragement that life will get better, slowly.
“I wish they had been in Nottingham to help me and my mum.”
Mrs Smith, of Kelburne Road, Cowley, has been cooking dinners for the city’s homeless and needy since 1990.
She pledged to help the homeless after walking along streets like Cowley Road and seeing those in need.
Mr Razak, who joined her as she served up dinners at the Asian Cultural Centre, said he was impressed by the grandmother’s insistence in doing things ‘her way’.
Mrs Smith said: “I had no idea at all.
“We watch the programme all the time, but you never think it will be you on it.
“It was a big surprise.
“The money will more than just help.
“We need every penny.”
The show on Monday also follows Mr Razak as he visits the charity Enrych, in Didcot, which works with severely disabled people.
The amount he has pledged to each charity cannot be revealed until the show is aired.
Former deputy headteacher Anna Cautley, who works as a referrals officer at Restore after suffering a nervous breakdown in 2007, said the team had no idea who the millionaire really was.
She said:” We were so surprised to find out.
“It was quite funny because I had to have a word with him about being more considerate of others in the kitchen.”