The health benefits of a month of clean air and clean food that is not contaminated by nuclear fall-out in Sheffield are amazing for the Chernobyl youngsters – it can add two years to a child’s average life expectancy.
Lisa Read, the mum of one of the host families, said: “It is the trip of a lifetime for them. Belarus has a lot of poverty so people don’t go on holiday. We do lots of activities but it’s also a health mission so we take then to the dentist and opticians.”
Activities the children have taken part in have included going to Gulliver’s Kingdom, swimming, trip to the seaside, lots of park outings, ice skating, discos and bowling.
The visits are organised by the Sheffield branch of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, part of a national charity that was set up in 1992.
Host families welcome children into their homes as part of their own family. Buddy families are also on hand to help out the host families.
The hosts’ homes are inspected before they are approved and CRB checks are also made.
Families don’t get paid for taking part.
The children who come over are picked out by their schools and host families can ask for a girl or boy, to fit in with their own families. The charity will only pay for them to come once. Some families get very attached to the youngsters and can invite the child back but they have to come at a different time to the organised trip. For more information, go to www.ccll.org.uk/sheffield