Chernobyl children set to visit Portsmouth as volunteers offer four-week recuperation stay

FOUR weeks of rest and recuperation await a group of Chernobyl children as they are set to visit Portsmouth.

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 5:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 10:26 am
Youngsters from Chernobyl on their visit to Portsmouth in 2018, when they enjoyed a trip around the city on an old converted Routemaster bus Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Each year, volunteers from the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Portsmouth Link host Ukrainian children who live in Borodyanka, near to the exclusion zone surrounding the site of the 1986 nuclear accident, to give them a chance to clear their body of radiation.

In March, four children will be spending time in the city and taking part in voluntary work including litter picking on Southsea beach and helping at Butser Ancient Farm so they can give back to the community who have helped make their recuperation trip possible.

The charity says bringing the children to the UK for four weeks adds in the region of two to four years to their life expectancy and builds up an immune system, which helps them through the next harsh winter.

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Volunteer Jo Cullimore is seeking other helpers to assist with fundraising and other activities.

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She said: ‘Most links in the area have folded as they did not have enough volunteers nor able to raise the funds. Our link is run by myself and another lady.

‘We have to do everything including having them stay while they are here, take them out everyday and so forth.

‘If we can't get the fundraising off the ground then we will fold through no choice of our own. We literally scrape by.’

Jo spends the year fundraising and organising the trips, as well as collecting donations of second hand clothes for the children and their families.

While they are in the country, the children have dental treatments and also visit the opticians to have their eyes tested and have glasses for those who need them before returning home.

Jo said: ‘I have been to visit the children and the families three times now. They all welcome us with loving arms and can’t thank us enough.

‘That thanks has to go to everyone who helps make this possible, as we can’t do it by ourselves, so thank you.’

To get involved with volunteering or donating towards the project, email [email protected]