Liz and Tom's fostering story
Read about Liz and Tom's first placement, an emergency placement for a 15 year old boy called Amir from Iran.
“My husband and I thought about fostering for a long time before I decided to apply, being busy bring up our own children, I thought I’d left it too late, but was happy to discover there is no upper age limit when fostering. Just like many people, I had a really clear view of the children I wanted to foster. I wanted to look after young children below the age of 5. However when I applied I became aware that the need for foster carers is for older children. This did take me back a little, after all, after bring up my own teenagers, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it again. But after talking it through with friends and family, we soon realised that looking after older children has its advantages, such as not being so restrictive on your lifestyle with bedtime routines and certainly not as physically tiring.
We became approved to look after children aged 0 – 18 years, but it took a little while to get our first placement, as I don’t drive and my husband is at work during the day, we needed to find the right match around schooling and contact.
After a few months, we had our first placement, an emergency placement for a 15 year old boy from Iran. There was very little known about him, but we were told that he was currently living in his elder brother’s university accommodation and was seeking asylum. It was assumed that he didn’t speak English, was a practising Muslim eating Halal meat.
Amir came to live with us just before Christmas and was due to stay with us for 6 months. He has now been with us for 3 years and as he is over 18, he remains with us on a staying put arrangement to enable him to finish his education. When he first come to us we were really surprised by how polite and chivalrous he was, a very different teenage experience, and certainly a long way removed from the behaviours we anticipated as foster carers.
Due to the lack of known information when he was first placed we were really surprised to know that his English was actually very good, he is also none religious too, so we haven’t had to use Halal meat. This did make things much easier for us, but we still had other priorities.
Amir needed to attend school, we were able to contact the local town hall to find out which local schools had vacancies, we arranged an appointment with the school and because the GCSE year was already half way through, we were advised that it might be best that he wait until the next academic year and enrol for college. However, I’d been advised by a relative working in a different school, that it is possible to join a year below. As a result Amir was able to begin school in year 10 and start his GCSE studies. This made a huge difference for Amir as he has done really well in his studies, achieving an A in Maths, and B’s in most other subjects. He is now studying for his ‘A levels’ and he hopes to go on to University to study Architecture.
Amir has been given leave to remain whilst he has been with us and as foster carers we have supported him in his application with the home office. Although he’ll need to apply again in another 5 years, before being allowed to become a British citizen, foster care has enabled Amir to have a much brighter future.
There is a lot of support available that foster carers can use when fostering young people seeking asylum, google is extremely helpful in translating Farsi. Also Asylum link, have been invaluable to Amir, a voluntary organisation which provided a tutor for an hour a week after school to help him in his studies.