A big-hearted Big Issue vendor is heading for an Indian summer with a difference as she travels to South Asia to boost the lives of young people.
Amber Smith is raising £800 to embark on Restless Development’s International Citizen Service – a three-month placement allowing young people to work on projects ranging from improving women’s rights to children’s education in impoverished communities abroad.
The 22-year-old, who has been selling the magazine since last summer in Topsham, Devon, is planning on jetting out to the Tamil Nadu region of India with the youth development agency at the end of April.
Despite only ever leaving the country once, Amber insist she is “super excited” to get a taste of Indian culture.
She said: “I’m a bit nervous and apprehensive about going to India but I would say that the most overriding feeling is definitely being super excited.
“I’ve only ever been out of the UK once when I went on a family holiday to France but I am used to moving around and I did a Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification before I sold The Big Issue, so I’m hoping that I will adapt really quickly.
“I’ve been really passionate about women’s rights from a young age so that is something that I really want to focus on in projects over there as well as children’s education.
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
“At the moment, I have raised about £70 but a few of my regular customers have contributed after I told them about my plans.
“They told me that they are proud of me and that I am a big part of the community.”
Following the trip to India, Restless Development’s programme also includes work for Amber in the UK with Action at Home.
The latest ICS India team arrives in Chennai airport, ready to start their placement with Restless Development. Here are some snapshots of their first few days there. pic.twitter.com/qAytW57AmK
— ICS (@ICS_UK) February 5, 2018
The domestic side of the placement will see Amber take on a journey in social action for six months on her return – and she insists that she is planning on working with children or The Big Issue’s area of expertise, in homelessness, when she arrives back in the country.
“I’ve not quite decided what I’m going to do just yet because I’m focussed on trying to save the money to go to India,” said Amber.
“But I used to be in care so I’d be interested in working in that area or maybe with homeless people after my work with The Big Issue.
“Action at Home is all about continuing to make a difference so we’ll see what I can do when I get back.”