Homes plea for Chernobyl children

Children from Belarus

Most children from Belarus have been affected by Chernobyl

A charity has appealed for help to find homes in the Borders which can accommodate children affected by the Cheronbyl disaster.

Chernobyl Children Lifeline has been bringing the youngsters to the UK since 1991 to give them an opportunity to boost their damaged immune systems.

However, due to a lack of hosts no children came to the Borders this year.

Information will be provided at a meeting at the Kingsknowes Hotel, Galashiels, next Thursday night.

The charity, which operates throughout Scotland, is looking for Borders homes for the Belarus children next summer, although they also want people who can cater for them all year round, including Christmas time.

The children will spend a month with their hosts, who can be families, couples or single women. Charity rules do not allow for single men to act as hosts.

While enjoying their holiday in Scotland, the youngsters will also be given free health and dental checks.

The charity's Scottish co-ordinator, Marjorie McFarlane, told the BBC Scotland news website: "Every child living in Belarus will be affected by the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster - 75% of the fallout landed there.

"Unfortunately the really ill children cannot travel but those who do come over are generally much better behaved than children over here."

Mrs McFarlane said that after a month in the clean air, the children's immune systems can be boosted by up to 80%, which can result in their lives being extended by two years.

"They love it over here," she added. "For some of them its their first chance to be children, as at home they often have to be responsible for their parents.

"It's wonderful to see them leaving here with rosy cheeks and glossy hair. It's quite amazing to see the transformations."

So far, the charity has enabled 44,000 children to visit the UK from Belarus.