I was joined this morning by long-time friends of the programme, Gaynor and Alastair Manthorpe of the South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children’s Life Line.
The Life Line is a small but dedicated group of people who organise a holiday each year for children from some of the areas worst affected by the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster such as Borodyanka, a small town about 40 miles from the Ukranian capital Kiev, which the couple recently visited. Even though this was their second trip to the area they described this visit as an eye-opener, seeing for themselves the immense deprivation that some of the children they’d welcomed to the UK in previous years live with as they visited their homes – some without running water or proper sanitation.
Gaynor and Alastair have been involved with the Life Line for many years and they told me that their visit to Ukraine reminded them just how important the work is. Plans for this year’s holiday – between 11th June and 9th July – are already under way; not only will a dozen children from Ukraine’s northern neighbour Belarus be given four weeks full of fun and activities that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives but they’ll also be given much needed dental and eye treatment that will make a real difference to them long after they return home.
Something the Link can’t provide alone, however, is all the families needed to help host the children – and if you think you could help, or know someone who might be able to, Gaynor would be delighted to chat. This would suit a family with children themselves or perhaps a retired couple – ideally living in the Billericay or Brentwood area, as the meeting point for the daily activities is in Billericay. You’d be looking after two girls or two boys, aged around 10 to 12.
Gaynor’s number is 01245 328 235.