Call for volunteers

FOLLOWING the success of their 15th annual summer respite holiday programme, the local branch of Chernobyl Children Appeal (NI) have issued a call for volunteers.

The group’s spokesperson, Brian Devlin, said “we have just spent a wonderful three weeks with a group of 11 children and an interpreter from Belarus, who were visiting Craigavon for a respite break. Twenty-five years on from the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, the needs of people living in this contaminated region remain immense. On behalf of our group I want to thank the many groups and individuals whose kindness and generosity added so much to the children’s experience”

Although the 2011 respite holiday programme has just taken place, the group will begin planning next year’s holiday in September. Because of the processes involved – vetting, recruitment of children, visa and passport applications, etc – the group has just a few months to recruit host families.

“Each group is responsible for raising funds to cover the cost of their group’s respite holiday programme”, explained Brian. “The total cost is likely to be in the region of £800 per head (children and interpreter) for next summer; so for a group of nine children and an interpreter it is likely to cost about £8,000.”

Although the respite holiday lasts three weeks it is possible for a family to host for a shorter period – a week, 10 days or two weeks for instance. This can be achieved by two families co-hosting a child/children. “We have co-hosted a number of children in the Craigavon group in the past few years and this has worked very well” reported Brian. “This allows families who cannot host for the full three weeks being involved in the programme and without this facility a number of children would have missed out on a respite break”

But the volunteer call is not just for host families, as Brian went on to explain: “Obviously, without host families there would be no respite holiday programme; but people can also help in other ways such as helping with our fundraising activities, organising a fundraising event on our behalf, or helping to organise and staff the holiday activity programme in the summer.”

Individuals or groups who might be interested in becoming involved can contact Brian at bdevlin@ymail.com or visit CCA’s website at www.ccanireland.com.