Totnes and South Hams Link  

Welcome to the South Hams Link



 Welcome to the South Hams Link of Chernobyl Children's Lifeline


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or by requesting in writing from Head Office at: 6 Hartley Business Park, Selborne Road, Alton, Hampshire GU34 3HD

The Chernobyl disaster

On 26 April 1986, the fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, 12km south of the Belarusian border, exploded.  Belaurus was the country hit hardest by the disaster, with 75% of the fallout landing on its territory and affecting approximately 90% of its area.  Large numbers of people in Belarus still live in contaminated areas with no access to clean food.  They still till their fields, herd cattle and eat the contaminated produce of their labours.  It is currently estimated that it will take up to 400 years to rid Belarus of contamination.

Medical experts expect as many as 40% of children exposed to Chernobyl's radiation to develop thyroid cancer over the next 30 years.  In 1988, 83 children were revealed to have thyroid gland problems.  In 1989 the number was 807, and in 1990 it had risen to 9,924.  The people of Chernobyl were exposed to radioactivity 90 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb.  However, whilst many people despair, most are extremely resilient, kind and generous even though many are desperately poor.

Belarus will suffer the effects of radiation fallout for hundreds of years. People who live here have no choice but to work on contaminated land and grow and eat contaminated food. 

Chernobyl Children's Lifeline - CCLL - was established in 1992 in response to the terrible nuclear accident at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, described by the United Nations as the "the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of humanity".  For the children brought to the UK by Chernobyl Children's Lifeline, we believe that a rest from the relentless bombardment of radiation, which affects every part of the Belarusian food chain, will boost their damaged immune systems and improve their quality of life. Chernobyl Children's Lifeline believes that we should offer this opportunity to as many children as possible, and works through a network of semi-independent 'links' throughout the UK doing just that.

The South Hams Link operates in South Devon, a designated 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', incorporating Kingsbridge, Modbury, Dartmouth, Totnes and bordering Dartmoor. We encourage the children to enjoy their surroundings whilst they are here and include many outdoor activities as part of their stay.


Thanks to CCLL, some 60,000 children from Belarus have visited Britain since 1992.  Many of the families keep in touch with the children and some invite them for return visits each year. The children always receive basic medical attention here including dental care and an eye examination. The charity pays for the travel costs of the first visit, from then on the host family pays if they want the same child to return.  No-one in the CCLL links gets paid for their involvement - host families, doctors, dentists, opticians, fundraisers . . . everyone gives their time and energy for free.


What is a Chernobyl child?

Every child in Belarus and Ukraine is a deserving child, regardless of social background or family circumstances.  The children who visit us are chosen by the education authorities in Belarus and Ukraine from amongst the most deserving children in each area.

Many of the children who come to Britain appear normal and healthy, but they are all subjected to the effects of radiation, and this is increasingly obvious in Belarus by the number of children born with deformities, or suffering from cancer and other radiation-related illnesses.  Their plight is ofter exacerbated by lack of medical facilities, contaminated food, shortage of medicines, poor nutrition, poor and overcrowded living conditions, unemployment, and difficult family circumstances.  The children we host will not be suffering from serious illnesses, and all are vaccinated against diseases like TB and hepatitis.

Belarusian people are proud: the children may not like to admit to shortages and lack of facilities.  Some may even exaggerate what they do have. What is certain is that parents are desperate to send their children abroad for good, uncontaminated food, clean water, fresh air, and a chance for respite from all these difficulties.

The children who reside in towns are likely to live in one of the crumbling tower blocks that are a feature of Belarus. Many have been evacuated from more contaminated rural areas.  It is unlikely that they have their own bedroom, and many have to share with parents.  Children who come from villages are likely to come from extremely poor backgrounds.  The 'houses' are little more than wooden sheds and few have running water. Whether from a town or village, all are living in a contaminated environment.



If you would like to find out more about our link please call Sue on 01548 561783 or contact us by e-mail.


CCLL has no particular religious or political affiliation - members come from all ages and stages of life and we hope to reflect this locally by evolving a diverse and egalitarian link.