Alison travels to Belarus ahead of visit from youngsters affected by nuclear disaster
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The founder of a group which provides respite trips for children who still feel the effects of a nuclear disaster has travelled to Belarus ahead of this year's visit.
Alison Stannard, who set up the Chernobyl Children's Life Line Chet and Waveney Link, has travelled to meet the 10 children who will be staying with host families in June.
Set up in 2014, the Chet and Waveney Link is bringing its fourth group of children to the Beccles and Loddon area this summer, and following an appeal at the end of last year, seven new families have come forward to host and support this year's visit.
Mrs Stannard said: 'Thanks to the generosity of local people, businesses and in particular customers of The Butcher's Arms in Beccles, we have been able to raise enough money to bring 10 children to stay in the UK this year.
'It costs £750 to bring just one child from Belarus for a four week stay in the UK. This covers the cost of air fare, visa, contribution towards interpreter costs, essential clothing and footwear on arrival and the cost of activities while the children are here.'
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Visiting will be two boys and eight girls aged between nine and 11 years, who will be coming from the Zhabinka district in the far south west of Belarus - a 13-hour journey from the UK.
The children are brought to the UK for a health break from the continuing effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
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Mrs Stannard said: 'The children are brought to the UK because the opportunity to breathe clean air and eat nutritious food helps to cleanse their internal organs from the harmful effects of the radiation. It also gives them the opportunity to experience normal family life here in the UK and to have the 'holiday of a lifetime' that they will never forget. The children generally come from the poorest of families and will probably never have another opportunity to have a holiday abroad or paddle in the sea.'
While in Belarus, Mrs Stannard will meet families of the children who are coming in June.
She said: 'It is very brave of the children at such a young age to travel to England, to stay with people they have never met. It is also very brave of the children's parents and families to allow them to come here and stay with strangers. It shows just how important this health break is to the children and to their parents.'
The children often arrive in the UK with just the clothes they stand in, and the link is collecting new and good quality nearly new clothes and shoes to give them when they arrive. The link also supplies vitamins for the children and their siblings, along with other medical items.
Anyone who is able to donate items to help can email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her through the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CCLLChetandWaveney