Tariq and Faiza have been fostering since 2016. Tariq had spent much of his career in youth work and has always loved seeing positive change in young people. They saw fostering as a way to work with children of different ages and to make a bigger difference. Tariq said:
“Fostering is in the family. My elder brother has fostered for 14 years and we’ve seen the difference he made to the children coming in. We thought we could do that and help children who’ve been less fortunate than our own to have a second chance.”
Tariq and Faiza have four birth children – two boys and two girls. When they first began considering fostering, their eldest daughter was 18 and about to go to university and the other three were at secondary school. All of the family was on board with the idea.
They chose Oldham-based independent fostering agency, Alpha Plus, part of National Fostering Group. Although they were approved as foster carers in 2011, Tariq and Faiza didn’t get their first child until 2016. This was a deliberate decision on their part as Tariq was working in community race relations at the time and the job was taking a lot of his time and focus. He said:
“I wanted to be able to give fostering 100% so we didn’t push but, in the meantime, we did all the training we could.”
Their first fostering experience was with two children aged three and 18 months who arrived as an emergency at 3am. They were understandably traumatised and Tariq and Faiza worked hard to build their trust and confidence. Tariq said:
“With foster children, it’s about trying to understand them and what makes them tick, giving them love and attention, building simple routines, doing little things with them – a trip to the park, shopping for toys, playing with them. The youngest boy was using his bottle as a soother to get himself off to sleep, which meant he was having broken sleep, so we helped to create a different routine so he could sleep through the night. They went back home as more confident children with good routines.”
Their current foster children, a brother and sister, were 9 and 8 when they arrived two years ago. The boy had behavioural and anger issues and Tariq and Faiza have supported him in learning how to regulate himself. In particular, Tariq worked closely with the boy’s school and used to sit down with his teacher every morning to discuss how to manage him. Tariq said:
“They didn’t really understand that looked after children are different to normal children. They used to send him home if they found his behaviour unacceptable but I wanted them to understand that he’s had punishments all his life and, actually, we need to work to find ways to get his behaviour right not punish him for it. I became the person he trusted most, his guarantor, and I would say to his teachers ‘if there are any issues let me know so I can unpick them with him’. At the same time, if he was anxious, he could let off steam to me. It was challenging and rewarding and it made a big difference to him.”
The girl’s issues were different. As the second eldest of six siblings, she had taken on the role of primary carer after their birth mum. Tariq said:
“She didn’t have much of a life for herself, it was all based around what her siblings wanted to do. So, we encouraged her to do the things she wanted to do – watching TV on her own, experimenting with make-up, singing, dancing. Faiza took her on shopping trips and she was also given therapy. She’s become much more vocal and, two months ago, was elected leader of the School Council where she speaks on behalf of all the pupils on issues relating to the running of the school. She’s made immense progress and grown into a bubbly girl who’s not afraid to express herself and can even be a bit cheeky at times. It’s so rewarding.”
Tariq is a powerful advocate of fostering and the difference it can make. He said:
“If you really want to help a young person to make a change to their life it is the way to go. It is not like a job, it is 24/7, it becomes part of your everyday life. You need to consider this before you apply. The memories we’ve made since we’ve been fostering are immense, I will cherish them forever. What you give out you get back beyond measure.”
Has Tariq inspired you to start your fostering adventure? Enquire today!