Fighting to beat poverty at its source, a Harrogate graduate is joining a troop of young travellers determined to make a difference in India.
Thomas Mills, who was born and raised in Harrogate before he left for Aberdeen where he went to university, has been accepted to join several other young people on a trip to India for six months.
While there, he will be tackling some of the causes and consequences of poverty in the country with the International Citizen Service (ICS) and Raleigh International, promoting and facilitating access to clean and safe water and sanitation and protecting vulnerable environments.
Before he heads out on the trip in January 2015, Thomas, aged 23, is going to Pisa in Italy in December to complete a marathon to raise money towards the £800 commitment to the ICS project.
“I have always been interested in volunteering and helping those less fortunate,” Thomas said.
“I think a lot of younger people want to do these programmes and can’t afford it, but it is supposed to empower younger people who are not as well off as typical years abroad that don’t really benefit the host country.
“ICS ensure that projects we are doing will have lasting benefit on the community.
“I have always been interested in India and it stuck out for me. I am a massive cricket fan, so perhaps it has been the influence of that and as I did more and more research there was no question about it.
“It is going to be tough work and not the best living conditions but I didn’t want a holiday, I wanted to see some lasting benefits within these small communities.”
Thomas has previously supported blind children in New York and homeless people with his volunteering.
He used to run for the athletics team while at university, and to prepare for the Pisa Marathon Thomas, who will be going to complete a masters degree in sustainable business in Utrecht in September 2015, has been pushing himself, training at his new home in Glasgow.
He said: “I have been running quite a lot along the Clyde in Glasgow for as long as I could really. I run three times a week, getting up to 16 miles.”
A former Ripon Grammar and Harrogate Grammar student, Thomas later hopes to work within sustainable development in Holland or London and said he thinks his work in India will not only be of benefit to the local population but also for his later career, providing a worthwhile background.
To support Thomas ahead of his trip to India, go to www.justgiving.com/TomMillsICS