"I set up The Peter Cruddas Foundation in 2006 primarily to help young people. I really feel passionate about giving money away and helping others. It is something I feel compelled to do.
Over the last year 14 years I have given or pledged £16 million from the Foundation to 200+ charities. I support charities I feel passionate about. For example, I really like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award because I left Shoreditch Comprehensive School at 15 and never had the chance to go on to further education even though I was smart enough and apparently have an IQ of 155 - whatever that means!
I had to help feed the family so the decision to leave school early came down to money. I was born in 1953 and grew up on a council estate. Dad was a porter at Smithfield meat market while Mum worked as a cleaner and did a brilliant job bringing up three boys; during the war she stayed in London to look after her Mum and could have been killed on many occasions.
I know from personal experience how a charity can make a dramatic difference to a person’s life. In my case, if I hadn’t been a member of The Scouts I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. The Scouts helped me escape from a violent, bad home situation and the inner city; being a member of The Scouts I found I could achieve things and built up my self confidence.
One charity I’m particularly interested in is The Prince’s Trust. The reason I like The Prince’s Trust is they don’t judge anybody and the money helps young entrepreneurs. If you’ve been in prison and you come out and apply to The Prince’s Trust then you have as good a chance as anybody to succeed.
I also know from talking to young people how The Prince’s Trust transforms lives. I was at an event once and this young girl came up to me and said, ‘You’re Mr Cruddas, aren’t you? You’ve changed my life!’ I asked her why and she said, ‘I was in prison, but by getting a loan from the Prince’s Trust I set up my own business and was reunited with my two children and I’m now bringing them up!’ She flung her arms around me and started to cry. You don’t get that kind of emotion from business!
My philanthropy doesn’t just include “the big” charities I take great satisfaction from giving to grass root community charities working with young people helping them achieve more.
I genuinely believe that when you hit a certain limit with money the only way you can improve your life is by getting involved in charity. I say to any top business people: no matter how much money you have, a new yacht or new car will not give you the satisfaction charity does. Giving also keeps you in touch with the real world.
There is a big secret to being a philanthropist and the secret is this:
Giving is one of the most satisfying things anyone can do because whatever I’ve put into a charity I’ve got back a thousand times."