The popularity and critical acclaim of recent television series Chernobyl has shone a light on the world’s worst nuclear disaster when Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine exploded sending a deadly cloud of radiation into the atmosphere. A significant amount of that radioactive fallout landed on neighbouring Belarus, and despite happening over 33 years ago, the impact is felt as strongly as ever by its population.
For over 11 years Edmonds & Slatter Opticians has worked hand in hand with Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (West Leicestershire), a registered charity that supports Belarusian children from disadvantaged social backgrounds who are still affected by this terrible disaster.
Every year the charity brings children from the most badly affected parts of Belarus to the UK for a month of recuperative care. During the visit, the children stay with a host family and undertake a packed programme of activities that gives them plenty of fresh air, friendship, nourishing food, essential health checks, including eyecare provided by Edmonds & Slatter, and above all, the fun they so desperately need.
All the children who visited Edmonds & Slatter this summer had a clean bill of optical health, and each young visitor was presented with a goodie bag containing assorted toiletries, haircare products, stationary and sweets. Assistant Manager Carol Barker said “We have been seeing groups of children from the charity for over 11 years now and it’s lovely to see them grow. We are looking forward to seeing them again next year.”
The next visit is planned for the summer of 2020 but requires a lot of organising before then, including finding more volunteer host families by September 2019 to ensure the charity can commit to bringing the next group children so desperately in need of our help, over to the UK.
CAN YOU HELP?
Volunteer host families are an essential part of the charity’s work and without them it wouldn’t be possible to change children’s lives. The charity is seeking enthusiastic, committed families who can provide a stable, loving home, nourishing meals and lots of fun for a vulnerable child that will be placed in their care for four weeks.
The children take part in an organised activity programme during the week and spend evenings and weekends at home with their host family. The children travel to the UK with English speaking interpreters who are on 24-hour call to provide support and assistance to host families.
Host families will need to have their own transport and ideally live within 30 minutes of the charity’s day centre, which is currently in Markfield.
John Buckby, Group Co-ordinator for Friends of Chernobyl’s Children (West Leics) said: “Hosting a child is an incredibly rewarding experience and these visits do really change the lives of the children and the host families and volunteers that support them. If you think you can help, either as a host family, a volunteer supporting the visits or volunteer working with us on our committee, please get in touch now.”