Trip of a lifetime for Rotherham’s children in care

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A group of children in care from Rotherham have thanked everyone who helped them raise enough funds to get to their dream destination.

The teenagers - who are all members of Rotherham Council’s Looked After Children’s Council - spent the last nine months tirelessly fund raising so they could all go on an educational visit to Poland, and they finally reached their destination over Easter when they jetted into Krakow.

They visited a number of historic locations including the harrowing Auschwitz concentration camp to 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 supported lodgings after being in foster care - vowed he would one day return to his father’s homeland with the aim of understanding his heritage.

He said: “This has been such a trip, I can’t thank everyone enough who helped us get here. I have never experienced anything like this before and nor have my friends so this really was a trip of a lifetime for us.

“Going to Auschwitz makes you realise just how terrible people can be to each other and was a really humbling experience for us all and one I know I will never forget. My father would have been so proud of me for doing this. It has meant so much.”

During the week-long trip the children also took in some of the other local landmarks, including the Weiliczka Salt Mines and the Jewish Quarter, where they learned 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 all helped the children get to Poland by organising and taking part in a range of fundraising activities including sponsored marathons, walks and bike rides.