Urgent plea to find host families for Chernobyl children’s link

Youngsters from Belarus who visited during last year's trip and stayed with host families in Beccles

Youngsters from Belarus who visited during last year's trip and stayed with host families in Beccles, Lowestoft, Hales and Norwich. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A group which offers respite holidays for children still affected by the Chernobyl disaster has made an urgent appeal for people who could host one or two children from Belarus.

The Chet and Waveney Link of the Chernobyl Children's Life Line (CCLL) is looking for individuals or families who would be available in June to host the children.

Alison Stannard, from Hales, set up the local link of the CCLL and last year the group brought over seven children from Belarus for the first time. They spent a month staying with host families in Beccles, Lowestoft, Hales and Norwich, taking part in trips and activities organised by the link.

Mrs Stannard said: 'We were aiming to bring over eight children again this year but we urgently need to find hosts.'

Last year's programme was a huge success, but unless one or two more individuals or families come forward to host, some children will be unable to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime trip.

'This will be a very great shame because we are well on the way to meeting our fundraising target and we have so many people willing and able to get involved in other ways to give the children a good time while they are here,' said Mrs Stannard.

The children, aged nine to 11, come from areas of Belarus badly affected by the radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. While the radioactive cloud spread as far west as Norway and the UK, 75pc of the fallout landed on Belarus, covering 90pc of its land area. The lives of many children in Belarus and Ukraine continue to be affected by the disaster.

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The CCLL has found that one month away from the contamination, eating nourishing food, drinking clean water and breathing clean air improves their health and gives their immune systems a chance to recover.

It also gives the children a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an experience they will never forget.

The children are accompanied by an interpreter, often their school teacher, and are also given new clothes, free dental treatment, eye sight tests and glasses, a year's supply of vitamins for themselves and their siblings and some basic medical items to take home.

Mrs Stannard said hosts can be single people or families and added: 'Age is not an issue and even if you work full time it will be possible to host as the link operates a day centre for the children to attend Monday to Friday during normal working hours.

'There are also helpers within the link who cannot host but want to be involved by having children for a few hours during the weekend or for tea visits in the evening.

'A friendly and caring environment is essential and of course all of your family must be in agreement.'

If you think you could help by hosting one or two children, contact Alison Stannard on 01508 549047 or email her at astannard@uwclub.net

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