CHILDREN living with the effects of a nuclear disaster more than 30 years ago are at the centre of a new initiative by East Lothian project Fostering Compassion.

The Ormiston-based organisation has been working with the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Trust and Swiis Foster Care to provide youngsters from Belarus with a special workshop as they visited the UK as part of a month-long recuperative holiday provided each year.

They met up with the youngsters along with some ‘therapets’ provided by Canine Concern Scotland to tackle some of the health and wellbeing issues they face using education through animal care.

The children are among the generations affected by the Chernobyl disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in modern-day Ukraine in 1986. Thousands are born every year with thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukaemia, while many others go on to develop one of these. Doctors in Belarus say that a four-week holiday boosts the children’s immune systems for at least two years, helping them resist or recover from serious illness.

Fostering Compassion became involved this year as it teamed up with Swiis Foster Care for the first time to bring its support to the youngsters.

The organisation organised a special ‘Storytelling and Reading with Dogs’ workshop for youngsters, introducing them to some four-legged volunteers from Canine Concern Scotland.

Lesley Winton, founder of Fostering Compassion, said: “Through sharing the stories of the animals, the children gain a greater understanding of their own circumstances, and this often provides a platform for the children to open up about their own problems.”

The workshop was held in Dunfermline and a team from Fostering Compassion travelled there to meet the children

To learn more about Fostering Compassion, go to