AN appeal has been issued for families to play host to children from Chernobyl.
Every year up to ten children from Belarus and an interpreter have come to the area for respite, but there has been a break of two years due to organisers’ ill health.
Now a new Morpeth and Wansbeck Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Link has been formed to resume the service.
Morpeth couple Lilian and Jerry Nelson, whose involvement with such programmes goes back 12 years, have taken the roles of chairman and treasurer.
But because the new group is more localised than the previous project, which ran in south east Northumberland and north Durham, more local host families are needed to accommodate the children.
A four-week visit is scheduled for next year and families will be required to host the children for two weeks or the course of the visit’s duration.
Volunteers are also required to help support daytime activities, arrange social or play events, help with fundraising or donate or collect good quality second-hand clothing for children aged between eight and 14 years.
Mrs Nelson said: “To make the next visit successful, help is required from local people.”
Children who take part in the trip have all been diagnosed with immune system problems associated with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.
The month-long break allows them to benefit from clean air and good food, resulting in their immune systems improving for up to two years.
They are also given health checks with doctors, dentists and opticians as such services are not easily available in their own country.
And Morpeth Lions Club has often delivered extra gifts and experiences.
Mr Nelson, who is a member of the club, said: “The lions club has enjoyed its involvement with the children over a three-year period.
“With goodwill from local and Newcastle businesses it has been possible to enhance the children’s visits.
“Additionally, some Lions members’ families have provided accommodation and support. It is hoped this will continue.”
To find out more about the project, telephone (01670) 518773 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org