British Asian Trust
Bringing together visionary philanthropists
As Patron of The British Asian Trust (BAT), Michael has been described as “a visionary philanthropist with a passion for catalysing change via grassroots solutions” by the charity’s Executive Director Hitan Mehta.
The Trust helps disadvantaged people in South Asia transform their own lives and focuses much of its effort on fighting trafficking in India, an issue which Michael has pushed to become its core campaign. The country is home to half of the world’s modern-day slaves – 14 million out of 30 million people.
Since 2010, the Trust has supported over 18,000 vulnerable girls in India, empowering them to take control of their lives and building their resilience to abuse and exploitation. Michael has led fundraising for the charity’s new Anti-Trafficking Fund, and in January 2015 trekked across Southern India with his wife Shalina to raise money and awareness.
In a Mumbai slum he visited a refuge built by the charity to reintegrate the girls into society. The five-day trek turned out to be more painful than Michael and his six companions had anticipated. The 45-mile route was no gentle meander through tea plantations but scrambling through mist above the clouds at 8,400ft through leech-infested areas, with elephants marauding through their camp, spiders, snakes and temperatures swinging between 34C during the day and –5C at night. Unprepared with their clothing and sleeping bags, they shivered every night and got sunburned every day.
Michael had wanted it to be challenging to raise a great deal of money, and was able to raise £80,000 directly. At a linked fundraising event, Prince Charles, President of the Trust, singled Michael and Shalina out for personal praise. The Prince joked that the BAT not only looked to moved mountains for this cause but Michael and Shalina were even CLIMBING them.