How can you put a price on making a child smile?

COMMENT: Carrier sends out a strong message to the world

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Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that mean the most.

For years the UK government has shown solidarity with those affected by the Chernobyl disaster by allowing children to enter this country for free.

In the grand scheme of things it’s not much of a price to pay and certainly not much of a burden for a country as fortunate as ours.

Waiving the cost of a visa has enabled children still coming to terms with the horrifying aftermath of the power station explosion to spend time in the UK.

And of course the £86 fee hasn’t just allowed these youngsters to enjoy a taste of freedom and excitement – though considering all they’ve been through, that in itself is a very worthwhile thing indeed.

The trips, organised by the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity, give these young people hope.

In reality, it’s a respite break, giving their fragile immune systems some much-needed time to recover.

It’s a breather from their every day life and also from the after-effects still being felt in the wake of the 1986 tragedy.

Many youngsters have enjoyed trips to this area thanks to the hard work and dedication of those involved with the charity’s Portsmouth and Hayling Island Link.

Host families have welcomed these children into their homes – and their lives – with open arms.

That in itself doesn’t come without cost, but the volunteers throw themselves into the business of fundraising to raise the £8,000 a year needed to bring just 12 children over.

If the government’s plan to scrap the free visa scheme goes ahead, the charity’s volunteers will need to find another £1,000 a year in order to carry on.

That’s a tall order for any organisation and many will feel that it’s a step too far in this case.

No-one can truly understand the horrors these children and their families have been through.

They are innocent victims of a national disaster that’s still leaving its mark all these years on.

The rest of the world has a responsibility to do whatever it can to help. You simply can’t put a price on the good these trips do.