Christine and Shahzad have been foster carers in Liverpool since 2010. In their years fostering with National Fostering Group, they have taken in varying types of placements including asylum seekers, sibling groups, and long-term placements. They have changed the life of 13 children for the better, and continue to do so with the children they currently have living with them. They’ve also provided respite and day care to support other carers throughout their time with Fostering Solutions.
Making the decision to foster
Fostering is a big decision to make for any family. Before fostering both Christine and Shahzad worked at Manchester Airport, where they met. Shahzad still works there alongside fostering and supports Christine wherever he can. Christine told us:
“We had thought about it for a while. When I was made redundant from work, we decided to find something that allowed me to spend more time with my daughter. We looked further into fostering, and one thing led to another. We applied and the rest is history.”
Christine told us about the first child that came to stay with them.
“We only waited 24 hours for our first placement. Our first placement was an emergency placement. That lasted three months and it was a big learning curve for us. He turned up in a pair of pyjamas with nothing else.” She laughed as she told me “we had to put him in a pair of Shahzad’s trousers to go and buy him some more clothes.”
Christine and Shahzad have also taken in asylum seeking children.
“We had 2 asylum seeking children, where Mum had been sectioned due to the father’s deportation. They were meant to be long term placements, but we could see that the family was meant to be together and fought hard to make sure the children were with their Mum. We worked with Mum to support the rehabilitation of the family, and supported Mum directly for a couple of years.
“We worked really hard to keep them with their family, and are happy to say it has been very successful and the family are still together.”
Working alongside the family is really important to fostering, and where possible supporting the transition back to being with family is always the ideal outcome for children in care. Where children are not able to go back to their family, it is important to support children towards independent living.
“We have supported children through to age 18, and on to independent living. We supported the children to get qualifications important for work, and helped them with transitions into independent living. We’ve seen them since to ensure that they are coping well with living independently.”
Our fostering journey
Fostering isn’t always easy, and can often provide challenges to family life. Christine and Shahzad have managed various behaviours from the children in their care.
“We had one boy, who was an asylum seeker and only stayed with us for three weeks, well I say stayed with us but we spent more time in hospital than at home. He kept throwing himself down the stairs and hurting himself quite badly. He ended up moving on to stay with his brother, and this was the best option for him.” Shahzad explained how “he had a negative view of women, and so wouldn’t listen to Christine.”
They currently have siblings in place, and have made a huge difference to these children’s lives. They were all very challenging when they first arrived, having issues at school, and they couldn’t read or write.
“It’s had its ups and downs over the years. They’ve been with us three years, and in that time we’ve worked really hard to improve their lives and their behaviours. We are starting to see a huge improvement with them. Our first holiday away was a disaster, taking them out of their comfort zones was really difficult.
“Two years on from that holiday, we’ve done a few smaller holidays, and we’ve now booked another for this summer in the hope it will go better this time. Their education has improved, and our oldest is above average for her maths. One of the boys has gone from needing a 1:1 just to get through the day, to happily improving in mainstream classes.
“They achieved so much which I love. They attend after school clubs such as karate, and gymnastics, and they’ve had so many opportunities that they wouldn’t have had outside of care.”
“We’ve had a really positive experience with National Fostering Group. Our social worker is brilliant. And the training has all been really good. We’ve done quite a bit of training, and it’s all been really detailed. The core training was really useful, and the training about attachment and trauma is really interesting.
“If anyone was looking to go into fostering, I would tell them it’s very rewarding but very challenging. It’s like everything in life – you get out what you put in. I wouldn’t change anything, and if I could have done it earlier in my life I would have done. For all the difficulties its presents I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Inspired by Christine & Shahzad?
Fostering has an impact on foster parents as well as the children they care for. If you’d like to find out more about fostering, enquire now.