Mahvish’s Story: Muslim faith and fostering children from minority ethnic communities
10 October 2023
10 October 2023
Mahvish is Muslim Pakistani and is urging more foster carers to come forward from the minority community. ‘There is a huge demand for carers with a minority ethnic background, they are like gold dust. People from the minority ethnic community have so many skills to offer, from their cultural background, the traditional dishes and food, the religious care and facilities. There is so much that they can bring to fostering.’
Almost 25% out of the 80,000 children that come into care in 2022 were from minority ethnic groups and in many areas of the UK there is an ongoing shortage of foster carers reflecting the cultural or ethnic background of the children in care.
Mahvish, a single foster carer, left her career working in HR within the corporate world 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Only 30 years old when she applied to become a foster carer, Mahvish was fortunate that her parents were also foster carers, which gave her a real insight into fostering.
‘I always felt there was something missing in my life and it's that whole wanting to give back and do something really rewarding. That's what made me want to go into fostering. I can see the difference that mom and dad used to make to children's lives, and I wanted to do the same. Part of my nature has always been to give back.’
As part of the matching process, Nexus Fostering looks for the best cultural match along with the carers values and beliefs, religion, family situation, and skills and abilities. Mahvish was born and raised in the UK as Muslim by her parents from Pakistan.
‘I think I have the best of both worlds. I have the cultural background that I've adopted from my parents, but I also have that richness of the UK after being brought up here. I can speak two languages and can relate to children as individuals on several different levels.’
As a Muslim carer, Mahvish explains that Muslim children are provided with a Halal diet and her household is pork and alcohol-free along with fasting during Ramadan and Eid celebrations. However she accommodates children from all backgrounds and cultures ‘I have taken care of White British children, so it’s about being able to give something more than the cultural background, I provide them with a really safe, warm and nurturing environment, where they feel seen and heard.’
Mahvish has a busy household with two birth daughters now aged 9 and 12. Her youngest was born into a fostering household and eldest was only aged 2. ‘They don't know any different so they are welcoming to it when they see what I do. When they see that there are children from backgrounds where they haven't had such a nice experience, it gives them a sense of gratitude.’ Mahvish loves the unique and fun side of her role as a foster carer; from outings together, attending the cinema, theme parks, bowling, and eating out.
‘I’m at the point now where I don't even see myself as a foster carer. This is my natural family environment with my natural day-to-day things.’
Mahvish speaks about her positive experience with Nexus Fostering as an agency over the past 10 years ‘I've had so much support from my supervising social worker and have developed a fantastic working relationship with them. They are always there to help with advice whenever you need it and there is a 24-hour out of hour service which is always available. I've been on so much training throughout the years from first aid to autism awareness.’
Mahvish explains how the process of becoming a foster carer gave her a real understanding of herself as a person and as a family ‘I can say that it was a really positive experience, the questions are designed to draw upon the experiences that you yourself may have had as a child and as an adult, both positive and negative, it gives you genuine self-awareness. I remember myself being approved, and I was over the moon’.
Over the past 10 years Mahvish has fostered 8 short & long term placements plus 5 respite placements, ranging from age 18 months old to teenagers. She explains the bond she formed with each child.
‘Whether they are with you for two weeks or it could be for five years, you will form an attachment with that child that's natural. Even post-18, you’ve done your best to prepare them for independence, 99% of mine have managed to keep in touch. They often will come back, message me, or pop in for a cup of tea. The relationship is a lifelong bond and it doesn't just end when they leave at 18, sometimes they can stay post 18 as well.’
There are more and more children from ethnic minority backgrounds that require a good home with a good cultural match. Mahvish has a wealth of experience behind her now and often supports new foster carers to find their feet. ‘Since becoming a foster carer I have never looked back, carers from ethnic minority backgrounds can play a huge part in changing and turning around a child's life.’
If Mahvish has inspired you and you have the space in your home to provide the care and love a child needs, enquire here.
10 October 2023