Hayat's fostering story
Hayat began looking after her first child in November 2016.
Once Hayat felt ready to foster, it took around a year to ensure that she was right for the role and to prepare for the challenge. She said: "After taking a fostering leaflet at the mosque, I arranged to go to an information evening at the Civic Centre in Uxbridge to find out more. I soon realised that I ticked all the boxes of what they were looking for, as I already had childcare experience from bringing up my own children. Two of my children had already left home after graduating from university so I had the space, and I felt physically and emotionally ready. I wanted to do something to change what these children and young people are going through."
She said: "It's a real journey to become a foster carer but it's so worth it. I went on a 3-day course to learn all about fostering, and it was very emotional. I learnt that children come into foster care for many different reasons, whether they've been abused or neglected or their parents have passed away. It was upsetting, but I knew that I could give a child a safe space to live and help them to have a better future.
"I then spent a lot of time with a dedicated member of staff from the council, and went on courses to learn new skills, such as how to look after a child who has been neglected. It was like going back to college with homework and research."
After successfully completing background checks and interviews with members of the council's fostering team, Hayat was given her first foster child - a 16-year-old girl from Hillingdon. She said: "It can be scary and challenging welcoming a teenager into your home, but we've come such a long way in a short space of time. I give her all the love and support she needs and most importantly, I listen to her when she needs to talk. I think it's important to treat people the way you want to be treated, and all I ask for in return is respect. She was only supposed to stay short-term for a week and had another foster family lined up, but we bonded really well and she asked the council if she could stay with me permanently."
Hayat has found fostering so rewarding. She said: "My foster child has been through a difficult time in her young life but I have helped guide and support her and encouraged her to feel positive about herself. After just a very short time, she became a different child. I try my best to make her happy and give her a good life, and she's doing really well."
Hyatt said: "Teenagers need you more because they need guidance, support and someone to listen to their worries. The biggest reward I get is seeing my foster child changing, and seeing her looking forward to her future. She's just completed an apprenticeship and I'm now guiding her through the next steps of her life to go to college or into work."
"I think the most important thing you need is a big heart. You will be looking after someone else's child and you are doing it for the love of being a parent, and that's got to come from the heart. If you have space in your house and space inside your heart, then there are children who need you. Please, please think about fostering."
Could you be a foster carer like Hayat?