Families offer a lifeline to Chernobyl children

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FAMILIES across South Yorkshire are preparing to open up their homes to children living close to the stricken Chernobyl nuclear plant.

Youngsters from Belarus and the Ukraine are being given a holiday in the county in the hope of boosting their immune systems by giving them a break from their polluted homelands after an explosion 25 years ago at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The Sheffield and Rotherham branch of the Chernobyl Children’s Project will host 10 children for two weeks in August.

The branch was recently set up by Chris and Karola Woods, who hosted children for the first time last year.

Karola said: “Apart from giving these young kids a holiday to remember for ever, the fresh air and unpolluted food really boosts their immune systems. It also improves their school attendance because they don’t get so sick.

“We hosted children for the first time last year and we loved it so much we are leading our own local group this year, with lots of new families.”

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the disaster many Chernobyl charities plan to host events and vigils to draw attention to the plight of people and communities still affected by the fall-out.

Chernobyl Children’s Life Line plans to host a vigil in Barker’s Pool on Saturday at midday and in Graves Park at dusk on Monday.

On Sunday the group is hosting a 5k fundraising Easter Dash in Graves Park.

Mick Ring, chairman of the Sheffield branch, said: “We are hoping that all of these events will raise awareness that the people of Belarus and the Ukraine are still and for many, many more years to come, going to be suffering the after-effect of radiation.”