The charity Chernobyl Children Lifeline was set up to help the children affected by the 1986 nuclear explosion in Chernobyl. Although Chernobyl is in the Ukraine, most of the nuclear fallout was taken by the prevailing south east wind to its neighbouring country Belarus; and it is these children who are helped by the charity.
The charity’s main purpose is to bring children over to the UK for a month’s “health break”, during which time they are away from their own polluted homeland and build up their strength and immune systems to restore their ability to cope with disease. Medical opinion is that the month’s break gives the children an average of two years’ added life.
Chernobyl Children Lifeline (Scottish Borders Link)
Scottish Borders Link of Chernobyl Children Lifeline was formed in Stow by Ian Anderson and Fraser Simm in February 2001. Initially it was concentrated in Stow and Peebles, but it has gradually spread to include: Selkirk, Galashiels, Walkerburn, Hawick, Yarrow, Letham, Lauder, Blainslie, Kelso, Gattonside and Tweedmouth. Many families have helped over the years and the group has grown from its early days in Stow to reach out to most of the Borders. We have been able to invite 100 children from Belarus with visits taking place in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012; to support these visits, we have raised £50,000 through a range of activities such as sponsored walks, coffee mornings, bag packing, dinners, donations and anything else that comes to mind!
It costs just around £500 for each child to come to the Borders – this pays for the flight from Minsk and various visa and airport taxes; all monies raised by the charity go directly towards paying these costs.
When the children come, they are accompanied by a leader/translator, who looks after their welfare during the visit. During their month in the Borders, arrangements are made for the children to visit local dentists and opticians and they are also provided with smoke detectors to take home with them.
A feature of the visit are the weekly trips arranged to such places as the Farne Islands, the beach, Bowhill Country Park, Galashiels fire station and St Boswells donkey sanctuary. These visits give the children the chance to come together and for all of the host families and support families to meet up as one full group. The visit usually comes to a conclusion with a picnic or a party.
How can I help?
Help is always welcomed, whether as a host family or as a support family; we are always pleased to welcome new faces. Why not come along to one of meetings and say “hello”?
Fraser Simm (Treasurer) (01578 730297); Ian Anderson (01578 730543);
Sarah Barton (Secretary) (01835 840333)