Councillors Garry Purdy and Andy Jordan met 35 children aged 10 to 15, all hosted by regional 'Link' groups of the Chernobyl Children's Lifeline (CCLL), during a full day of outdoor activities at the Mount Cook Adventure Centre near Wirksworth,
Hosting six of the children for the 16th year in a row is the Bonsall & Derbyshire Dales Link of the national charity. This year the local Link invited youngsters from the Belarusian town of Rogachev in the Gomel Region that was - and still is - badly impacted by the disaster.
Now Chris Broome, Chair of the Bonsall & Derbyshire Dales and CCLL Link Mentor for the East Midlands and South Yorkshire regions, is appealing for more volunteer host families to get involved in the annual visits.
“It is 33 years since the disaster happened and many people have forgotten the event or mistakenly believe health problems caused by the radioactive fallout must surely now be over the worst.
“Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Radiation is still very much present in the soil of much of Belarus and northern Ukraine and will be for generations to come. CCLL are now bringing second generation children to the UK. These children are eating contaminated food grown in their gardens every day; most families can't afford to buy 'clean food' from shops.”
The children stay in pairs in the homes of volunteer host families in the Derbyshire Dales area. Most host families choose to host for two weeks, with a second family playing host for the second two weeks.
All the children and their leader take part in a programme providing them with many activities they never get the opportunity to do in their own country. This includes going to the seaside, often for the first time in their lives.
“Hosting Chernobyl children is very rewarding, knowing that you are helping make a life changing difference to the children you host. Charities like CCLL can only continue to do this with the support of volunteer host families. Previous experience of hosting children is not necessary.
“Retired couples can host, not just families with or without their own children. To safeguard the children, DBS checks are routinely carried out by the charity on all adult family members who will come into contact with the children.”
Councillor Purdy said:
“The recent TV drama series 'Chernobyl' has once more grabbed the nation's attention about the nuclear accident and this can only be a good thing. It was great to meet the children at Mount Cook and clear to me that the four-week holiday in the UK makes a big difference to their health, reducing the level of radiation in their bloodstreams by around 70% and giving their immune systems the opportunity to make a significant recovery.”
- Find your nearest Link by looking on the national CCLL website, www.ccll.org.uk using the 'Location' tab or contact Chris Broome at firstname.lastname@example.org