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President's Award - Afia Choudhury (1)

Tower Hamlets foster carer wins national award

We are over the moon that our very brilliant foster carer, Afia Choudhury, has won The Fostering Network’s President’s Award for her contribution to care.

Afia and her husband Kamruz currently care for three foster children, who’ve lived with the couple for the last seven years. The children will remain with the family until they reach adulthood.

Afia says “I came into fostering to make a difference to children, but actually they’ve made a difference to my life.”

Ishara Tewary, the fostering team manager at Tower Hamlets who nominated Afia, said: “It has been said that fostering runs through Afia’s blood. She is truly an outstanding foster carer. As well as providing a fantastically nurturing home to three young children who are happy, settled and achieving brilliant things, the fostering world benefits from her passion, dedication and positivity.”

Afia was given her award by children’s minister, Nadhim Zahawi, and was one of 21 to be awarded.


Carers’ achievements celebrated at Christmas awards ceremony

Over 200 foster carers and staff got together on the 7th December 2019 to celebrate the fantastic achievements of our carers. Awards were presented by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs to carers who had impressively turned around the lives of some of the borough’s most vulnerable children.

Everyone enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and carers were able to have fun in the photobooth and enjoyed having a dance with their friends.

Our annual awards ceremony takes place once a year and is just one of the ways we all like to get together and celebrate.

Fostering teenagers

Finding enough foster carers for teenagers is always a challenge. Richard and Tony applied to foster with us specifically so they could help teenagers. They are now making a positive influence on many of our young people.

“We’ve been fostering with Tower Hamlets for over six years – we came to them because I (Tony) was brought up in the borough and still have family who live in the area. I come from a large family – I am one of five and I’ve been around my siblings, nieces and nephews for many years and Richard has a son who is in his 20s, so we knew what to expect – we knew we could make great parents.

“For us it was all about making a difference in young people’s lives, and to give something back to the community that Tony was brought up in. I’m not sure when we first thought about fostering but it was this reason which made up our minds; that it was the right decision for us.

We specialise in fostering teenagers – a group that many often shy away from. We love the way that we can see a young person change so much with love, care and attention. When we were considering fostering, we knew that we didn’t want to become full-time foster carers as you would need to be with young children all day, every day. We both work – I am a duty manager for Docklands Light Railway and Richard is a tanker driver for an oil company. We realised that by fostering teenagers – we would get the experience of children in our lives but we didn’t need to be getting up through the night or changing nappies! The children could fit into our lives and they have. Like most parents, we balance the care of our children with our jobs, and find our employers support us too.

“Our family support us whole-heartedly – they know this is what we wanted to do and they have supported us throughout the last six years. Richard’s son Aaron works at the Ealing studios as an animator in film and TV production – this is often a big hit with the children. One boy became especially fond of Aaron and became really motivated to learn and develop when he saw the opportunities which were out there for him. Whilst Aaron doesn’t live with us – he supports us and enjoys getting to know the youngsters who come to us.

“The reward and satisfaction you get from fostering when you see that you have made a difference to a child or young person’s life is huge. In some instances this could be the most smallest of change for the child or young person that could change their life.

“We can’t see an end to fostering – it’s part of our lives and we love to work with the children and other carers to get the best for them. I would never consider putting an age on caring for children and young people, as they will always be a part of our lives, even when they grow up and move on. We still receive phone calls and text messages from them, which is a wonderful experience. We’re here to stay and hope that we get to meet more new carers over the coming years, because unfortunately there is a need greater than ever.”

If you would like to find out more about how you could help teenagers, please get in contact.

The joy of fostering

One of our amazing foster carers Yusuf has written about his thoughts on caring for one little boy who had a very difficult start in life.

“Fostering a child comes with its own rewards and challenges, however after each of my placements has ended and I have seen the children, once they have settled into their own home either with their biological or adoptive families, I know deep down that the challenges were and will always be worthwhile.

“Helping a child who has little or no stability in life and giving them a sense of security, until the time comes for them to settle back into their permanent homes gives me a sense of pride and achievement. To know that I have played my part in allowing them to continue developing in all areas, and a chance to have a stable life.

“The first child that came to me was no more than 4 weeks old. He came with multiple health issues including heart failure, hearing and sight impairment and global development delay.

“I recall seeing this tiny, poorly baby lying on a huge hospital bed surrounded by beeping machines was heart-breaking especially as I had been told the odds of his survival were very slim and even if he had a successful operation, he would have a difficult life ahead of him. I remember clearly thinking it seemed as if there was no hope. However, Little Abdul was a tough cookie and he fought hard to fight the odds and recovered extremely well. Little Abdul became our little champion. Every milestone was celebrated by the entire family, because mostly there was always doubt about what he would be able to achieve and do and he always came out a winner. Little Abdul stayed with us for several years and although the pain of him leaving us was immense, knowing he was going to be adopted by a family who had already adopted Little Abduls’s sibling, gave us a sense of relief.

“We see Little Abdul occasionally when he comes to visit us and to see how he has grown into a boy of nearly 6 years who is thriving in every aspect of his life, who speaks and eats as any other child does, who plays and walks and is continuing to achieve so much, gives me such a sense of pride because I feel that it was because we were blessed with a chance to help and support him, that he has managed to grown into the wonderful and bright little boy he is now.”

Join Tower Hamlets fostering family

When you become a foster carer for Tower Hamlets, it’s not just a loving and stable home you will be offering a child, there’s also the opportunity to make great friends and be part of a supportive and friendly fostering community.

01 Anthony and Momotaj
“There is a real community spirit. There are lots of support groups and events you can go to. We really like helping people and making a difference to children’s lives. We have made lots of friends from all different ethnic backgrounds who we meet up with and chat on the phone with. It’s really interesting to hear about different traditions and cultures. We would encourage families to think about fostering and the Tower Hamlets fostering team can put you in touch with foster carers so you can have a chat with them about what it’s really like to foster.“
02 Lydia
“I have made some really great friends through fostering with Tower Hamlets. We regularly meet up for coffee mornings in each other’s houses and arrange trips to the park with our foster children. We’ve even been on holiday together to holiday parks in the UK. This year we are planning a trip to France together.“I really enjoy fostering and especially appreciate the support I get from my fostering friends.”
04 Karen
“I have become very good friends with another foster carer as we have looked after a brother and sister who couldn’t be placed together at the same time. We regularly met up a couple of times a week to ensure the siblings spent valuable time together. Through this, we have become solid friends and it has given me the chance to get to know someone from a very different background who I would not normally have met. It’s been very surprising how much we’ve had in common. The children have now moved on and we are continuing this friendship.”

Thinking about fostering and would like to know more? Please come along to one of our information sessions for a friendly chat over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Our foster carers will be very happy to meet you and tell you all about being a foster carer.

Alternatively, give us a call, our friendly team would love to talk to you

Adoption Support Fund has been extended

Since its launch the Adoption Support Fund has spent more than £16 million of the £19 million fund which has helped more than 4,700 adoptive families.

The fund will be now increased to £21 million for 2016-17, and £28 million for the year after. In addition, children in special guardianship placements will be eligible for help from the Adoption Support Fund from April 1, the government has announced.

Children adopted via inter-country adoptions will also have access to the fund from 1 April, and adopted children will continue to have access to its support until they turn 21.

Families can access services such as:

  • Behaviour therapy
  • Play, music, art and drama therapy
  • Extensive therapeutic life story support
  • Specialist training for adoptive parents

To find our more, please contact Tower Hamlets’ Adoption Team on 020 7364 5431.
You can read all about the fund in more detail here.