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. There are other non-committee roles who are co-opted when the need arises.

The Link hosts one group of children each year, accompanied by an English speaking, certified Leader/Interpreter who is usually a teacher. The group stays for three weeks during the summer, at the middle/end of July and beginning of August.

We hold regular Link meetings, especially in the 3 to 4 months before the children arrive. The meetings are predominantly to inform the Host Parent/Families and Helpers/Supporters. After the children have visited, we evaluate the visit during another Host Parent/Family meeting. We have occasional social events.

The Link is entirely voluntary and dependent upon the generosity of donations – in cash and goods. The bulk of our income derives from our Charity Shop in Clowne which we share with the Mansfield and Ashfield CCLL Link.

We work with a specific community in Belarus. We host children from a school the village of Molotkovichi.

Basic criteria for selecting children to travel

  • Is between ages 8 to 11, or older if approved by the Link Committee;
  • Is considered disadvantaged and 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 recommended by their school, or by members of the Link Committee visiting Belarus (subject to meeting the selection criteria);
  • 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 usually provided for a four year period and the need for this assessed on a year-by-year basis. In general, these children 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 forthcoming holidays.

Become a host parent or host family

We are looking for a friendly and caring environment, with the agreement of all your family (who live at the same address). Age (of host Parent(s)) is not an issue and part-time work is usually not an obstacle as we provide support (from Support families) during the visit period. It also does not matter if you have (or do not have) children yourself.

The children who visit will be aged between 8 and 11 years old and Host Parents may request either boys or girls. Children are usually placed in pairs in families without own children and experience has shown us this can help with the settling in process. 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, and has a First Aid Kit and risk assessments undertaken where necessary. 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 Parent or 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.

What happens during the visit?

Communication. The group of visiting children will be accompanied by a Leader/Interpreter who supervises the children during the visit and will be available at all times for any help. All Hosts and Support helpers will also be provided with a list of translations of common Russian words and phrases. The children will also have had some English lessons in school and it is amazing how they can communicate without being able to speak a lot of English. Hosts often find they have a great deal of fun with the children using a mixture of pictures, pointing, mime and the available lists of translations. Mobile phone translation apps can also be of great help.

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 for activities, 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 (although we encourage attendance to most of the events). It is imperative that the Link committee is aware of the children’s whereabouts at all times so Host Parents/Families must always advise the Link Chairperson if they wish to take the children out of the area even if only for a day trip. This is for the protection of the child, for which we are responsible.

Dentist & Optician, Doctor. During the stay, all the children will visit a dentist and an opticians. These visits are always accompanied by the group Leader/Interpreter. Children are often nervous about dentist visits, as they may have had a painful experience at home as dentists do not always have local anaesthetics. Some children will have never visited a dentist and after a visit to the English dentist, will be able to eat without pain for the first time in a long while. The same applies to the Opticians visit and some children’s quality of life and learning will be greatly enhanced by the provision of a pair of glasses. The Host Parent/Family can accompany the children on these visits as the children appreciate their Host mum’s or dad's presence. In the rare event that a child may need a Doctor during their stay and they will always be accompanied by the chair of the link and the Leader/Interpreter.

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.

Basic items such as underwear and a toothbrush are normally provided as new items. As the children will arrive with very few clothes, further clothes can be provided and these can be second hand. Many children will need extra shoes while they are visiting. Every Host will be provided with some basic details of ‘their’ child(ren), including clothes size, height and shoe size so that some clothing can be obtained in advance of the visit. However, it is wise to get the rest when the child(ren) are here, as their actual shape and size may differ from their profile. Clothes and shoes that do not fit can be swapped within the group during the visit, or be given back with the children for a brother or sister back home.

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. 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 you would like to get in contact, we'd be thrilled to here from you.