Compared to some of our local foster carers, I’m pretty new to this. I started my fostering journey around 18 months ago and now look after a teenage girl who really is thriving. I’m a busy working mum and I already have three children who are pretty grown up now. Some people might think I’m mad. My family and friends were certainly initially concerned I might be taking on too much. So why did I choose to foster?
I’ve always loved children and have worked with them in a professional capacity for more than 20 years, helping to support vulnerable families going through difficult times. I have seen first-hand how they can be impacted by many issues throughout their life and the seed for fostering was planted years ago through colleagues and other foster carers. At the time though, my own children were very young and I wanted them to be a bit older before I embarked on my fostering journey.
I would definitely say my faith as a Muslim has also been a key factor, with the sense of community spirit and ‘giving back.’ To care for children and help them is one of the most rewarding and pleasing acts in the sight of God within the religion of Islam. For children coming into my care, there is no compulsion to practise my religion as everyone is free to practise their own faith or no faith. My current foster child practises a different faith to me and I support her in doing that, with no problems. I am respectful of her cultural identity, heritage and beliefs.
You may be wondering how fostering has affected my three children. They have been brilliant – they are very proud to be part of the fostering family and are excellent role models, inspiring my foster child to further her own goals and ambitions. She now even describes herself as being ”part of you guys!”
The best thing about fostering is having a child join our journey and experience family life. It has been amazing to go from reading about them on a piece of paper, to that child then entering my home. To sum up in one word what fostering means to me would be growth. I have witnessed the increased self-esteem, confidence and positive self-empowerment in my child. To help her find this through offering stability and navigating her through what can sometimes be difficult times, is immensely rewarding. I intend for all the children coming through my door to receive a positive, nurturing experience and know they are loved.
I have to say that the process of becoming a foster carer took longer than I initially expected but Slough Children’s Services Trust has been amazing and the reason why I term my placement as a ‘glove that fits’ is because they absolutely know me and my family and are able to get matching a child to a family down to a tee! I’ve had continuous support and a sense of togetherness from a wonderful team made up of lots of professional, friendly and caring individuals. I am proud to be part of that in my home town!
And I have to mention my family and friends – their support has been a real bonus! They may have been initially concerned for what I was about to take on but now they fully embrace and support my role as a foster parent – they see first-hand the difference it is making and some have even expressed an interest in fostering themselves! I’d strongly encourage anyone who’s interested in fostering to get in touch with the team at Slough Children’s Services Trust and find out more.
Sofia Sittar is a foster carer with Slough Children’s Services Trust