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  1. ITV Report

Charities say their work with Chernobyl's young victims continues

Some of the children affected by the Chernobyl disaster enjoying a holiday in Cumbria Photo: Nick Wilson

Every year since the 1990s, groups of children have travelled from Belarus to the countryside of Cumbria and southern Scotland. The trips are organised by different charities. The children stay with a host family from a month and enjoy healthy food, healthy air, adventure and medical treatment.

They were born years after the Chernobyl disaster and many miles away, but the fire in a reactor at the plant in northern Ukraine sent a cloud of radioactive material over much of Europe and Belarus bore the brunt of it. Charities and experts believe children living there are born with weaker immune systems and are more susceptible to some diseases and cancers.

A view of Pripyat in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Credit: PA

Charities including the Friends of Chernobyl's Children and Chernobyl Children's Lifeline believe the UK visits improve their health. Fundraising and donations are relied upon for the children's holidays. Transport is usually the only cost incurred thanks to donations and fundraising for day's out, medical expenses and food.

"They get fresh air, they get fresh food, they get the loving support of a local family and that makes a huge difference to them and will hopefully prolong their lives"

– Nick Wilson, Friends of Chernobyl's Children North and West Cumbria
A group of children enjoying a day out during a visit organised by a charity Credit: Nick Wilson

Thirty years on, organisers say they'll continue to bring groups to the region, as the fallout continues from the 1986 disaster. Host families and volunteers to help before and during visits are also being sought but those involved say they've been overwhelmed by the generosity of people over the years

"The big thing for me is the way people signed up to this time and time again saying i can't do this but I can do that, I can provide something else, can I help with driving, help with clothes, help with looking after children for three or four days"

– Fraser Simm, Chernobyl Children Lifeline

Watch Hannah McNulty's report below: