A ‘sheltered’ beauty queen who is used to the finer things in life struggles to cook a simple pesto pasta for a family-of-five on Rich Kids Go Skint.
Brooke Smith, 22, a paediatric student nurse from Suffolk, has been successful in several national beauty pageants and has competed as Miss Norwich in Miss Great Britain and even Miss Universe 2020.
But in tonight’s episode of Rich Kids Go Skint, which airs on on 5Star at 9pm, the heiress, who benefits from the success of her parents’ car and jewellery businesses, proves that when it comes to cooking on a budget, she is completely hopeless.
Brooke, who is used to the luxury of her parents’ eight-bedroom mansion which is located on a six acre estate, goes to stay with single mother-of-nine Sonya Portell in Hackney, who lives on benefits and receives £1,500 for her family-a-month.
Sonya, who lives with four of her children – Venus, Maximus, Troy and Scarlett – in a rented three-bedroom house and works part-time at the Hackney market selling juice for £1, receives universal credit to make ends meet.
Former Miss Great Britain contestant Brooke Smith, pictured, 22, from Suffolk, goes to stay with a family-of-five who are living life on the breadline in Hackney, on tonight’s episode of Rich Kids Go Skint
Brooke learns about the reality of life on benefits when she stays with mother-of-nine Sonya Portell, right, who says she’s ’embarrassed by ‘living off her kids’ money’
The mother-of-nine, who explains to Brooke that her part of town is rife with crime and prostitution, is embarrassed about her financial woes and dreams of moving her family out of London one day.
She sets out on a mission to open Brooke’s eyes to the reality of living life on the bread line, and presents the privileged 22-year-old with a challenge.
‘I’m going to give you a challenge and give you £8 and you’re going to be cooking for six people and I’m expecting to have a very nice meal tonight,’ she tells Brooke.
The heiress, who is used to her father doing the food shop for did, doesn’t know what to expect.
‘Usually my dad will go and do the weekly shop and I don’t know how much that cost, probably £100 for just the three of us,’ she explains.
As she walks around the supermarket, the confusion continues.
‘So I’m thinking, maybe something to do with pasta, because pasta is cheap, pasta’s easy and I think, who doesn’t like pasta, really?’ she says.
Brooke has been successful in several national beauty pageants, including as Miss Norwich in Miss Great Britain (pictured) and Miss Universe 2020
‘I’m thinking about a sauce, not sure quite sure what sauce, people like bolognese, but that involves mince, and I bet meat is quite expensive. Maybe they’ll just have a tomato-saucy pasta, that’d be nice.’
After picking up some spaghetti and pesto, she also grabs some chopped bacon and rocket salad and manages to pay only £6.85 – £1.15 under her tight budget.
However, mother-of-five Sonya isn’t convinced her children will like the meal – particularly the pesto – adding it’s not ‘kids’ food.’
An embarrassed Brooke admits: ‘I thought I’d done very well but apparently I got almost everything wrong.
And things quickly turn from bad to worse when Brooke starts trying to rustle up the pasta, but fails at the first hurdle as she struggles to turn on the cooker.
‘Oh no, it’s a disaster,’ she says.
Thirty minutes later, after spilling spaghetti on the cooker, which was at risk of burning, Brooke serves up her best efforts for Sonya, her eldest daughter Venus and herself – while the other children receive another sauce they prefer.
‘Cooking on a budget for so many people is something I’ve never had to do before,’ she tells Sonya over dinner. I didn’t know how much that costs, so it was definitively a challenge for me.’
Sonya welcomes Brooke into her home and starts crying when she says she wished she could provide the same lifestyle for her children that Brooke’s parents have provided for her
Pictured: Brooke at a beauty pageant. The heiress admits her father does the food shop at home and that she has no idea how much it costs per week
At home, ‘sheltered’ Brooke is used to her father and her mother being at her every beck and call.
‘I’m a bit of a princess, I’m a bit of a mummy and a daddy’s girl, they both spoil me really,’ she admits.
‘I went to private school from age of two, I have my own pony and go riding and got my own car when I got to the age of 17.
‘Jewellery is one of my biggest passions. My collection is probably worth a few thousand. Mmy parents got me most of it.’
Brooke, who also has a designer wardrobe which includes the likes of Louis Vuitton bags costing £400, and Gucci belts, explains how she enjoys taking part in beauty pageants in her spare time.
‘Walking down the catwalk in a very beautiful dress…you just get five minutes to show who you are,’ she says.
She competed in a rhinestone gown worth £900 that her mother helped her buy for Miss Great Britain 2020.
Brooke has to help out selling £1 fruit juice at the market on Sonya’s stall, pictured, and admits she feels out of place and not ‘100 per cent comfortable’
Sonya sold her juices to make ends meet, but said the stall wasn’t bringing in a lot of money, and that she struggled financially
The heiress gets her hands dirty and helps Sonya and her son Troy put up a shelf in the boys’ bedroom
‘I don’t know much about the benefits system, it’s not something I had to think about or worry about, really,’ she explains. I’m hoping that spending time with people less fortunate them myself will help broaden my horizons a bit more.’
It’s for that very reason that Brooke decided to travel to Hackney to stay with mother-of-nine, Sonya.
‘I run a fruit juice stall in the market, the business doesn’t bring in much, so we are struggling financially,’ Sonya admits. ‘I get £1,500 a month, after I’ve paid all the bills. I literally have about 200 pounds left for the month,’ she says. ‘I have to be super organised so I don’t get into any debt.’
Luxury is few and far between for the family, who hasn’t been on a holiday for ten years.
Sonya also has issues with the area of London where she lives.
‘In this area we’ve have have problems with drugs, prostitution, gangs, it’s not a very good area to bring up your children in,’ she explains. ‘It’s something I worry about all the time.’
‘When I was younger, I was unable to read and I didn’t really go to school, so I’m really trying to achieve something so that my children can look up to me and say, “My mum’s tried her best considering.”
‘I’d like to teach the rich kid that money isn’t everything and that love, care and attention to your family is so much more.’
Brooke, who has never cooked or shopped for food herself has to buy all the ingredients for a family dinner for six on a budget of £8, pictured
After struggling in the kitchen, the paramedic nursing student is able to whip up a pasta for Sonya’s family, pictured
In her taxi driving up to Sonya’s flat, heiress Brooke starts to feel uneasy.
‘It does look a bit like a rough area,’ she says. ‘I’m not 100% sure I feel completely safe here. Oh, I’m really nervous now. I’m wondering what I’ve put myself up for.’
Emotions are high when Sonya meets Brooke and takes her on a tour of her split-level flat.
The mother reveals some people come into her garden at night and get up to no good, which is scary for the kids.
‘There’s a lot of prostitution, drug dealing, there have been two or three shootings in the last two years alone,’ Sonya says.
Brooke responds: ‘I can’t wrap my head around that because where I come from it’s unheard of.’
‘When you meet someone who’s actually in that situation, it hits very close to home and where I’m from, it not something you hear of, it doesn’t happen.’
Talking about the eight-bedroom mansion she grew up in, Brooke tells Sonya: ‘It gives you that space and that privacy that I’ve grown up all along.
Sonya had nine children but only lives with four of them, pictured, in a three-bedroom split-level flat in Hackney
Tearing up, the mother-of-nine admits: ‘I’d like to provide my children with all that, but it is difficult.
‘I’m trying to get out of it, your parents have provided really good for you, and you’re safe, which is lovely and that’s what I would like to provide for my kids.
‘It just brings it home to me how much I really want to get out of this situation that we’re in.’
During her stay, Brooke is put through her paces on several occasions. Firstly, she’s tasked with helping Sonya run her fruit juice staff at the market.
‘I’m going to take you down to the stall and I’m going to see if you can do better than I do on the stall,’ Sonya says.
Venus adds: ‘I think she’ll find going down to the market difficult.’
Her and sister Scarlett agree that Brooke will stand out at the market and that people will look at her pink jacket and mini skirt.
‘Why would you walk through hackney wearing that type of outfit?’ Scarlett says.
Brooke agrees that she finds the market ‘intimidating.’
The beauty queen, pictured, says she doesn’t feel safe in Hackney – adding that she doesn’t understand how Sonya’s children can do it
Brooke admits: ‘I do feel out of place, I feel like I stick out a bit like a sore thumb. It’s a completely different world to what I’m used to. I’m feeling really out of place and not a 100 per cent comfortable either.’
Sonya finds the situation amusing and tells the camera: ‘I don’t think she’s seen so many black people in her life, or Pakistani people, or Turks or Greeks or Italians.
‘There so many people here from different parts of the world, I think she’s very shocked, actually.’
After the market stint, Brooke has another open conversation about money with Sonya and Venus.
Looking at Brooke’s watch, which is a Rolex, Sonya is shocked to hear it’s worth a staggering £7,000.
‘If I had £7,000, it would pay my rent for the year, which would leave my mind a little bit more secure,’ Sonya explains.
‘My biggest concern is the rent, the council tax, the gas, the electric, because obviously I don’t want my kids to be homeless.
‘We don’t have any money leftover, it’s now got to the point where we are using the credit card for food, so I know it’s a bit imbalanced.’
When Brooke says she doesn’t know what universal credit was, Sonya starts to break down, explaining she receives money for her children, but doesn’t have any for herself.
‘It’s a bit upsetting,’ she says in tears. ‘I live off the kids’ money as well, but like I said, I utilise the money properly, and it’s really embarrassing.’
The heiress, pictured, who has a £7,000 Rolex watch, and Sonya get emotional as she says she could cover her rent for the whole year with that amount of money
‘You don’t need to be embarrassed at all,’ Brooke reassures her.
Speaking to the camera, Brooke says: ‘It’s just so different from what I’m used to, Obviously my parents have always paid everything without a problem and been able to buy me whatever I want, it makes me realise how different her life is to mine.’
Venus, who cries as well, says she’s proud of her mother.
‘I see that she struggles all the time and that really upsets me,’ she adds, her voice breaking. That is just annoying because she’s always working and always trying to make sure we’re OK first and she never looks after herself.
‘You know when you see someone you love so much and they’re just upset and you can’t do anything about it, it’s really frustrating. That’s why I go to college all the time so I can get a good job.
Proud mother Sonya tells Brooke that Venus is studying sports medicine and received a lot of honours at college.
Venus admits she has to do her coursework on her phone because she doesn’t have a laptop.
After dinner, the family and Brooke go on a walk around the neighbourhood, where Sonya tells her the area is rough.
‘Just at the top of the road we get a lot of the working girls,’ she explains. ‘They also work in my garden down there, which is really scary.’
Troy adds: ‘It’s got to the point where I’m used to it.’
Sonya continues: ‘Everything is so normal to the kids, I don’t want them to have that as a normal, though.’
Brooke admits she would feel ‘very unsafe’ if she were to walk around the area ‘alone.’
Brooke, pictured, says she took things for granted and that staying with Sonya and her children hasd made her realise that
At the end of her stay, Brooke has lots of kind words to say about Sonya, whose feelings are mutual.
‘You’re just a remarkable woman for doing all of this on your own, you’re raising four beautiful, wonderful children who are all so wonderful and have been so kind to me,’ she says.
‘You’re a DIY woman, you’re a chef, you’re a taxi driver, you’re a business woman, you’re in education doing your degree. I just think that’s amazing and I take off my hat off to you. Thank you so much for having me, I feel I’ve made friends for life having met you.’
She also buys Venus a laptop which she can complete her homework on, which brings a tear to Sonya’s eye.
‘I know how it’s going to benefit all of you, but especially Venus with your homework,’ she explains.
A delighted Venus enthuses: ‘Having a laptop is going to help me so much, it’s going to help me out all the time.’
As Brooke prepares to leave, Sonya says: ‘Brooke has really adjusted well, considering where she comes from, from the countryside. She really showed that she cares. I really hope she comes visit again.’
Since filming the show, Brooke has been trying to reign in her spending and has been in regular contact with Sonya and her family.
Rich kids Go Skint airs tonight at 9pm on 5Star.