Final push for Destination Poland

Published Wednesday, 15th February 2017
Looked After Children 'Destination Poland'
Chief Executive Sharon Kemp, Young Inpsectors Co-ordinator Ashlea Harvey, Simon from the LAC and Strategic Director for Children & Young People's Service Ian Thomas

A group of intrepid teenagers are urging the public to get behind them for one final push to help them reach their dream destination.

Rotherham’s Looked After Children’s Council (LACC) have been on a six-month fundraising campaign for an educational trip to Krakow, Poland, where they will learn about the World War II Holocaust, hate crimes and the importance of love, peace and community cohesion.

This followed a bid by one of the 14-strong group to visit his dead father’s birth place in order to find out more about his family’s history. Three years ago 16-year-old Simon hit rock bottom after his Polish father died.

Devastated, the youngster - who is currently in foster care - vowed he would one day return to his father's homeland with the aim of understanding his heritage.

So far the group has raised nearly £6,000 of their £9,000 target, but need help to get the final amount in order to go out to Poland at Easter time.

Cllr Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council, said: “The kids have been working extremely hard to raise the funds and have done tremendously well to raise as much as they have. This will be a valuable education for them and give an insight into the struggles the world faced during their grandparents’ generation. Now they need everyone to get behind them for a final push to get the funding they desperately need so they can go on their trip of a lifetime.

“We all take family holidays for granted, but this group of children can’t, so this trip will help give them experiences other children are lucky enough to take for granted. So please get behind them and help them get on their way.”

The week-long trip will see the children take in some of the local landmarks, including the Weiliczka Salt Mines, Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and the Jewish Quarter, and learn about the heritage and history of Krakow and how persecution and discrimination has shaped the country over the past 100 years.

Councillors, council staff and members of the public have organised a range of fundraising activities since the campaign began last September, through sponsored marathons, walks and bike rides.

The Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance (REMA) has also been supporting the LACC’s fundraising, hosting their third and final‘Festival of Angels’ event following Valentine's Day, on 16 and 17 February. The two day event held in Riverside House Library includes a ‘Living Angels’installation as well as community based workshops exploring the power of self-reflection and positive thinking through meditation.

Emma Sharp, Policy and Engagement Officer at REMA, said: “Destination Poland promotes all of the beliefs and values we hold as an organisation and we’re pleased to be helping fundraise with our Festival of Angels events. We’ve had lots of donations over Christmas and many people talking about what a positive thing it is for the children to be doing.”

Plans are also in place to look at other funding streams to help the children get to Poland.

To contribute and make a donation to Destination Poland, visit the Just Giving page.

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