In October 1994 one little Belarussian girl came to stay in Lancashire with Olwyn Keogh, the Founder and Director of the Friends of Chernobyl's Children charity. The impact of that first visit initiated the beginnings of the FOCC and the following year 50 children came from Belarus for a four week recuperative visit to East Lancashire.
Since then the charity has grown and today there are now 31 FOCC groups across the British Isles, of which the Friends of Chernobyl's Children (IOM) is one.
The charity's aim is to relieve the suffering of children affected by the radiation explosion from the nuclear plant at Chernobyl.
The Isle of Man Group of FOCC is a Manx registered charity, which was founded in 1999. There were 23 children in our first group to visit the Island and on average we have been able to bring about 20 children each year since. Each child visits the Isle of Man for a month's stay and for a minimum of three to five years.
The charity devotes its energies to raising funds to bring children from Belarus, who are at risk, to the Island for a month every year. The charity targets children from disadvantaged homes, aged between seven and twelve. These children are in great need and come from social situations that make it difficult for them to get the care they require at home.
FOCC (IOM) is completely self-funding; everyone giving of their time and talents freely, thus ensuring that ALL money raised is utilised for the children.
During these visits optical, dental and (where necessary) health checks are given as well as lots of tender loving care.
From that first little girl in 1994, FOCC has grown to the extent that in 2005, 600 children visited the UK & IOM for a month of recuperative care. The number of children and families helped by the charity now stands at well over 1000 and that number is growing.