Push for U-turn on visa charges for Chernobyl children visiting Lincolnshire
A CAMPAIGN to prevent a rise in the cost of bringing children from Chernobyl for a life-enhancing break on the Lincolnshire coast is being supported by a Mablethorpe man.
An e-petition has been started against plans by the Foreign and Commonweath office who want to instate visa charges for Chernobyl children coming to the UK for recuperative holidays from Belarus and the Ukraine.
Each year, Graham Wright from Mablethorpe Lions Club organises a day at the resort for Chernobyl children in conjunction with his former club, Ripley Lions.
Mr Wright said: "It costs around £307 for each child to come for a holiday to the UK. With the visa charge which the Government wants to introduce, it will add around a 22 per cent increase on the cost for each child. The fear is it will inevitably stop children coming to the UK for a holiday.
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"A two week break here, breathing clean air and being given a two-year supply of vitamins can increase their already short life-expectancy by two years.
"The visa costs will put a lot of extra strain on the charities which support these children."
Mr Wright has signed the e-petition and is encouraging as many people as possible to do so.
He added: "The children from Belarus love coming to Mablethorpe.
"They love the sea as where they are is as far from water as you can get. One child even ran into the sea with their clothes on. Local businesses and organisations are ways very generous towards the visits by the children."
Richard Street, Link Chairman of Chernobyl Children Life Line said: "We have the only government in the whole of Europe who is looking to take advantage of the charities committed to helping these unfortunate children.
"The charges if made will inevitably reduce the number of children able to come for convalescing and will have a huge detrimental effect on the work of the charities who strive to give hope to the lives of these somewhat forgotten children."
To sign the e-petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37945
They hope to get 1,000 signatures by January 2013 for the issue to then be debated in Parliament.