Hosting A child
Although hosting a Belarusian child may seem a little daunting as it is a huge undertaking, it is also incredibly rewarding and joyful. Children come to us for 3 consecutive summers (main group visit) and 2 consecutive summers (mini girls' visit) during which time they and their family in Belarus can establish a strong relationship with their host family. The job of a host family is to provide a comfy bed, plenty of nourishing food, and a warm and welcoming home.
During both visits the children take part in an activity programme organised from Monday to Friday. Hosts are asked to bring their children to our base, Northallerton Rugby Club, each morning. Some of our time is spent here doing craft activities and welcoming special visitors, but mostly we will be out and about enjoying a wide range of activities including swimming, horse riding, going to the seaside, amusement parks, local schools, walking around the local countryside and much much more. The weekends are mostly free for host families to spend with their child, but we organise at least 2 activities for all the children and their host families during their stay. There is always an interpreter on call and the group coordinator and safeguarding officers can be reached at any time during the visit to answer queries or help sort out any problems.
Prior to hosting a child, all families must undergo full DBS checks and home visits. Hosts need to live within a reasonable distance of Northallerton and be able to bring and collect their child from the rugby club at the beginning and end of the day.
We currently have a waiting list of families hoping to host when we bring over new groups of children in 2020 and 2021.
If you'd like to host a child, there are some things you need to consider:
- Do you live within easy reach of Northallerton to be able to drop off your child before 9am and pick up between 4.30
and 5.30pm weekdays from Northallerton Rugby Club? This is our base and the children are all together weekdays
as we have a daily programme of organised activities and health checks.
- Are you able to help us fundraise or find sponsorship to help us bring your child over to the UK?
We are entirely self-funded and rely on host families to support our fundraising activities and help secure sponsorship for the children.
- All potential hosts will be visited by our coordinators/safe-guarding officer to assess suitability and all members of the household over 18 must undergo an enhanced DBS check. Without this, you cannot host.
Alison Shepherd on 01609 772445 or 07795 142855 for more information.
This is what one of our lovely host mums had to say when her child returned to Belarus after his second visit to her family:
"It’s been the most amazing month hosting our little boy from Chernobyl. He has flourished during his time here. He communicates easily with an amusing mixture of mime and English. It has been such a pleasure to host him this year. The children have absolutely loved having him stay.
I was asked by a friend who wanted to understand more. “How can a mere month here help a child’s health?” I told her that the fresh air, nutritious food, access to food regularly, daily regimen of vitamins and minerals and uncontaminated living during the most vital stages of a child’s development are helpful and this decreases the risk of contracting cancer in the future for the children. Still she wasn’t getting it.
Another friend who is also a host mum and doctor went on to add: If a child has a genetic predisposition to cancer and has a risk of cancer occurring which is like a scale and lots of risk factors are adding up, but then they have periods of decreased risk, (coming to England) then the genes which can potentially switch on and cause cancer have less chance, due to less risk factors stacking up and tipping the scale.
No, she still could not see how a meagre one month over a 3 or 4 year period is really useful. I added you could see it like the growth rings on a tree, when a tree is sliced horizontally. Growth rings vary in colour and size. Wide growth rings are noted when there has been a particularly good growth environment. Optimum nutrients, a good water supply, perfect weather conditions. The tree is less likely during good periods to contract disease and this has a lasting effect and helps the tree during times of lack. Now she got it! A visual learner. Like me.
Whilst the children are here. They’re being given the gift of optimising their chances of becoming fit and healthy adults. They are nourished physically with healthy food. They are not wholly bombarded with our typical western diet, they’re given lots of good home cooked meals. Although, yes, as you can see, they are peppered with a few milkshakes to help build bones and teeth. This was a Saturday treat for M. He’s also taken back, in his suitcase, hundreds of vegetable seeds which his grandfather (who lives further away from the zone) can grow and hand out to his family.
They are nourished emotionally with love and care. All the children who are hosted become one of the family for a month. 1/12 of a year for 3 years. They start of a little tentative and then soon become as familiar as the other children. Getting a little cheeky at times, but this shows how comfortable they’ve become and how safe they feel. They are always smiling and eager to help.
The value of visiting England doesn’t stop here though. The children’s whole outlook changes. Their world is expanded and so is their potential to live a different life as an adult to that of their forefathers. Before coming here, all that some of these Belarusian children know, is poverty and lack. Thus their expectations as adults can be limited to that. On coming to England, however, they see a different way of living. They will be ingesting a whole rainbow of possibilities and expectations very different from the ones they had before. They become fluent in a new language too. All this has got to help their ambition and potential to live a different life as an adult to that of their grandparents. They literally go back as different children. Not to mention the growth a whole month away from their parents induces emotionally. They learn to trust the people at the Friends of Chernobyl group. The staff become like Aunts and Uncles. These confident and nourished youngsters have not only a chance to sidestep chances of cancer, but also poverty and limitation.
Thank you Friends of Chernobyl’s Children Northallerton for all your hard work. What you do is truly amazing!
Looking forward to next years visit. Xx"