Newark and Sherwood Link hosting and family support

Detailed overview of hosting a child

Introduction to the Newark and Sherwood link, formed in 2006

We are overseen by CCLL Head Office which provides us with governance, trusteeship, information, accounting and support. We have our own Link Committee which meets regularly and manages the day-to-day administration and running of the link. Our Committee operates throughout the year to organise the events for the following summer, managing a multitude of tasks, first and foremost is the preparation of you as host families for the visit itself, along with the simultaneous preparation of the children in Belarus for their adventure.

The Link hosts one group of children each year, accompanied by a "Leader" (A English speaking, certified Leader/Interpreter - this leader will be a teacher with a number of years of teaching experience). We bring children each summer for three weeks - for the final week of July and the first two weeks of August.

We hold regular Link meetings in the 4 months leading up to the children's arrival. The meetings are predominantly to inform and share knowledge with our Host Families and Helpers/Supporters. After the children have visited, we evaluate the visit during another Host Family meeting. We also have occasional social events during the winter to keep in contact before the following adventure brings us back together again.

The Link is entirely voluntary and dependent upon the generosity of donations – in cash and goods and time. The bulk of our income derives from our Charity Shop in Clowne which operation supports the work our link, and two more local links (Nottingham and the Dukeries links).

We work with a specific community in Belarus. We host children from a school the village of Malotkavichy - you can read more about it here. Members of our organising Committee visit Belarus each spring to visit children in the area we support and select children for our visit for the following summer.

Basic criteria for selecting children to travel

  • Is between ages 9 to 11, or older if approved by the Link Committee;
  • The child lives with parents or carers who are financially unable to give the child respite;
  • Works hard at school to achieve their personal best, at whatever level;
  • Is selelcted by member(s) of our Committee, based on our selection critera;
  • Has never been to England or abroad before, except for medical reasons;
  • Is a Belarusian citizen or permanent resident within the area;
  • If a child has disabilities with restrictions they may still be able to come to England. The working party in Belarus must be made aware of the disability and are instructed how to care for him/her. The school can then make a recommendation to the Committee.

Local family support

Our Link provides financial assistance to children and their families in Belarus, when we believe there is a genuine need, through the Charity’s Family Support Project. Support is provided by issuing sponsorship, which is received twice per year as a finacial gift, which serves to boost the families income towards providing a better environment for the children to live in. In general, these children we support in this manner will have visited England for a respite holiday with our Link. We endeavour to make family assessment visits each spring in conjunction with the visit to select the children for the forthcoming summer visit.

Become a host parent or host family

We are looking for a friendly and caring environment, with the agreement of all your family. Age is not an issue. Work is usually not an obstacle as we provide support (from Support families) during the visit period. though the majority of our host families do use some of the annual leave during the visit as they wish to be heavily involved in our program of activities.

The children who visit will be aged between 9 and 11 years old and Host Parents may request either boys, girls or select having no prefrence. Children are usually placed in pairs in families without their own children and experience has shown us this can help with the settling in process and provides the child with a playmate during their visit. Single children can be placed in families with own children. However, this is no hard rule and requests for one child will always be considered. Children may share a room with a child from the Host Family if both children are of a similar age and the same gender.

Health and child safety

The safety of children is paramount during any visit. There is a plethora of legislation and guidelines from the UK and Belarus implemented by the Charity. The Link operates a strict child protection policy, maintains an Incident Log. On every visist we shall have a trained and equiped 'First Aider', risk assessments are undertaken by ourselves or provided by every venue we visit. We have indemnity insurance through Head Office.

All potential Hosts who have expressed an interest in hosting are visited by two Committee members to discuss the implications of hosting, answer any questions the individual or family may have, and to check the suitability of accommodation prior to acceptance. This also applies to volunteers who offer support as support helper.

Responsibilities & requirements

  • Child welfare. The link Chairman and the Belarussian Leader/Interpreter who accompanies the children on their trip to the UK are accountable for the welfare and safety of the children during their stay in the UK;
  • DBS/VS requirements. As an essential precaution, all persons over the age of 16 who are living or staying at the address of the Host or Support at the time of the visit will need to apply for DBS/VS clearance. Any adult wishing to help with the children will also need DBS/VS clearance. We will provide the forms for this clearance and work through the process with you. This is completely free of charge;
  • Hosting agreement. When a Host Family has been accepted, they will be asked to sign a hosting agreement prior to the children arriving. The hosting agreement is a simple agreement that explains the responsibilities of the Host Parent or Family and the Charity.
  • GDPR. All Host Families will be required to agree to our GDPR and privacy policies. We will of course store your data in accordance to law. It is necessary for our operation that your details are shared within our part of our memberbase to best coordinate the summer visit.

What happens during the visit?

Communication. The group of visiting children will be accompanied by a Leader, who can operate as an interpreter. They will supervise the children during the visit and will be available at all times for any help which may be required. Mobile phone translation apps make hosting in recent years much easier and create a higher level of engagement. The children speak a basic level of English as they do receive English lessons in school. Hosts and children alike often find they have a great deal of fun with the children using a mixture of pictures, pointing and mime - it is amazing how we can communicate without being able to speak each others language.

Activities during the visit. A wide range of activities will have been pre-arranged for the children during their visit. This provides the fun activities of the holiday and let the children meet, play and talk with the other visiting children. It also offers host families a break from caring for the children. If Hosts have alternative plans which makes attending the days planned activities an issue, the Link will be happy to either arrange alternative transportation to the event for the children or if absolutely necessary, excuse them from the activity. It is imperative that the Link committee is aware of the children’s whereabouts at all times so Host Parents must always inform a link Chair or Vice-Chair of alternate plans. This is for the protection of the child, for which we are responsible.

Optician, Doctor. During the stay, all the children will visit an opticians. These visits are always accompanied by the group Leader. For the children who require glasses, obtaining a free pair of glasses will greatly impact the childs quality of life and ability to learn. In the rare event that a child may need a Doctor during their stay, you will have our support. The child will be accompanied by the Leader and a member of our Committee.

Clothing and footwear. The journey to the UK is long and tiring and the majority of the children will have faced a long car or bus journey before even getting on the plane to England. The children are likely to arrive with very little personal luggage and we will need to provide the basics necessities from the moment they arrive.

Our Link provides a lot of items for the visit, second hand clothing, walking boots, a water proof jacket, a backpack, and an assortment of other items. Every Host will be provided with some basic details of the children they will care for, including clothes size, height and shoe size so that some clothing can be obtained in advance of the visit.

Diet. Fruit is much loved by the children and fruit seems to be a luxury in their home country and they may only get it occasionally as it is expensive. Host families are asked to provide a lot of fruit and vegetables during the visit. Our diet will be very different from that which the children are used to but they will be encouraged to always try new foods. It can be fun to take them to the supermarket to involve them in buying and trying new foods. We encourage a diet of healthy food and avoid sugary and fatty snacks and drinks as much as possible.

Transportation. Host children who are small will require the use of a booster seat to comply with current regulations. The Link will provide units on loan to those people who require them.

If your are still reading at this stage, we shall presume we have peaked your interest and you are considering getting involved. We have a wealth of information to offer you - most of which needs to remain private from the internet. We would be thrilled to hear from you and communicate with you regarding our work and your potential involvement. Please do get in touch, we'll happily answer and questions or queries you have. We believe strongly in the work we are doing and the impact with are having on these young minds and the community which they live in. We will continue our current work and work throughout the year to increase our footprint within their community to make sure our impact reaches as much of the community they live in as possible. With your support and time, we can offer that little bit more.