Young couple fosters to improve the lives of local young people
25 September 2019
Muriam and Waseem are both foster carers for Brent and they have been looking after local young people since 2018.
Muriam comes from a fostering household where her birth parents looked after children as she was growing up. Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she saw children of different ages coming into her house with heavy emotional baggage and leaving completely changed. This inspired her to become a foster carer herself.
‘When you can see the positive effect on somebody, it makes it all worthwhile,’ says Muriam. Now she’s a wife and a mother and, after her parents retired from fostering, she and her husband, Waseem, applied to become foster carers for Brent. ‘We’ve had some lovely experiences so far. One of our the most significant experiences was of a young lady, a typical teenager, quite grumpy. When she first came to us she did not want to socialise, but by living with us she saw what a normal life was like. After a few months she built a relationship with us, built trust and she started seeing us as her family,’ Waseem said.
‘We had another child,’ Muriam remembers, ‘she was five when she entered our lives. She came from a family where she did all the adult work: cooking, cleaning, taking care of herself.’ Coming into Muriam and Waseem’s house helped this child live live without having to worry about chores and looking after herself. She got to enjoy her free time, play and relax. ‘We took her trick or treating for the first time ever. She was so excited. She’d never done it before and this was a brand new experience for her. This made us realise how sad life is for some children. They don’t have everything that we’re used to, and the small things mean a lot to them.’
Muriam and Waseem aren’t afraid to speak about how another child that they had did not adjust. ‘When he came home we was fine, he would listen to us and behave himself, but when he went out he became a completely different person. He would skip school, start fights and get into trouble.’ They admit to have tried a lot to help this young boy improve his life but it just did not happen. However, this did not put them off from fostering. Things were different with another child that came into their home later on. The boy was an unaccompanied minor who fled his country threatened by war. His past experiences made it hard for him to trust and open up to people. He was very comfortable around Waseem, though, and they managed to bond. ‘We taught him everything about how we live here in the UK. We helped him open a bank account, get his first card, which he was very proud of.’ He is now a very confident 19-year-old young man who’s found the resources to build his future in a new country. ‘We’ve given him a safe environment where he could share his thoughts and feelings.’ The young man is still in contact with Muriam and Waseem even though he’s moved on from care.
Fostering, says Waseem, ‘is challenging at times, but it is very rewarding. We’re happy when we see that the children we looked after become independent and have their own life as strong, successful adults’. In Muriam‘s opinion, children do not need much from their carers to become confident because they pick up a lot just by spending time with a happy family in a stable and safe environment. However, it’s also important to accept that some children, no matter how hard carers try, will not change and this is beyond everyone’s control. Sometimes it’s adjustment issues, other times it’s their will.