News article

Brit in Thailand honoured by UK PM for supporting those in need

A British born charity creator in Chiang Mai has been named as a Point of Light by Prime Minister Theresa May for working with vulnerable groups in Thailand.

Ben Svasti Thomson is dedicated to improving the lives of those in need in Northern Thailand. He has set up a number of successful charitable organisations including ‘Women Against AIDS’ to educate and empower women, ‘the Mother and Child Concern Foundation’ for families affected by HIV/AIDS, ‘Grassroots’ which supports former sex workers into alternative livelihoods and ‘the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit’ working with Thai government agencies and civil society groups to fight trafficking and support its victims.

As the UK Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai, he has spent the last six years supporting others to give back. His dynamic network of volunteers help care for expats from all nations who cannot travel to access assistance when in trouble.

Ben is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

In a personal letter to Ben, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

Your voluntary work in Northern Thailand has improved the lives of countless people in need – from educating and empowering women in the fight against AIDS, to working with the Thai authorities to combat trafficking. As the UK Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai you are also supporting others to volunteer too.

Across the world British volunteers like you are helping to build a better world for everyone. The Point of Light award is a small thank you on behalf of the whole country, in recognition of your exceptional service.

British Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai, Mr Ben Svasti Thomson said:

Indeed I am most honoured to receive this award, although it is totally unexpected and had never been on my radar! Of course no one works alone and I must, in turn, thank all those who have provided their support in my charity networks and in the British Embassy Bangkok.

I started volunteering almost 40 years ago, during my year off after university, and have worked for charities ever since. I have worked with refugees, abused women and children, people living with HIV/AIDS, victims of human trafficking and, most recently, British nationals in distress.

My work as a volunteer has given me the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life. At times it has been challenging, but it’s an amazing experience to discover the compassion which lies inside us all through working to help those in suffering. It enables one to transcend one’s own petty world and strengthen one’s character by immersing oneself in service to those who are in far greater need.

Whether you have just finished your education, are in between jobs or at a similar crossroads in your life, then time spent volunteering in the community will often be the most valuable time in your life in terms of discovering yourself while helping others.

Too many people nowadays are glued to a virtual world rotating around social media. I urge you to get into the real world, surround oneself for a while with real people who are struggling to exist in the face of terrible hardship and give your time and energy to partner with them in making their world a better place for themselves and their families.

HM Ambassador to Thailand, Mr Brian Davidson, said:

Ben has made an enormous contribution to the local community in Northern Thailand. I am also immensely grateful for the work he does for this Embassy in supporting expats from the UK, both personally and through the networks he has created. But I am even more proud of his dedication to making a difference to the lives of ordinary people across Thailand - through the charities he has established and his collaboration with government and civil society. He is a shining example of the kind of partnerships that exist at all levels between the UK and Thailand.

Ben is the 655th winner of the Points of Light award which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. Over 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Point of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

Further information

  1. The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
  2. The Prime Minister makes daily announcements of the winners to celebrate, encourage and promote volunteering and the value that it brings to the country.
  3. If people know someone who could be a Point of Light they should write to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.
  4. Website: www.pointsoflight.gov.uk