Foster child turned University student Sanna Mahmood urges people to get involved in fostering to help struggling children.
Inspiring foster children and families, is 24-year old Sanna Mahmood. Sanna was placed in foster care at 14-years old, after problems in her home life. In spite of this, she is now following her dream, studying a degree at the University of Huddersfield.
Currently in her final year, Sanna is studying Health and Community Development, and aiming for a career in Human Resources. Alongside her studies, she has also been working with the Council to help other foster children and leavers, offering advice, support and skills training, in the hopes that she can encourage other care leavers to follow their dreams.
For six years Sanna has been volunteering with the Council's Children in Care team, which lets fostered children voice their experiences, discuss issues, and ask for additional support. As well as that, she also works at the Council's drop-in centre, where people can meet other care leaver, take showers prepare hot meals, and use the Council's IT facilities and other services.
"Through Kirklees Council I completed an apprenticeship in Children and Young People, which then enabled me to apply for my degree course. They also offered me the opportunity to do my one-year placement in various Council departments, which helped me to decide what sort of career I wanted at the end of my degree. I know many care leavers who have gone on to do have successful careers within the Council both through its university work placements and apprenticeship schemes.
She hopes to spread the word that after you turn 18 in foster care - which is the age that children leave their carers - it doesn't have to be the end. Sanna regularly keeps in touch with the foster family that helped get her where she is today.
"I feel lucky in that I had amazing foster carers who encouraged me to go out into the world and find myself, but leaving care was the strangest feeling, because I had no birth family to turn to. However, it was around this time that I realised that I'd become part of another family; one made up of my foster carers, their friends who fostered, as well as the children in their care. They are still a big part of my life today so it gives me great comfort to know that this is a family that I can always rely on and call my own."
Andy Quinlan, acting fostering service manager from Kirklees Council, added.
"People like Sanna are a shining example of what can be achieved when a child is placed in a nurturing environment where they feel safe and valued. Despite a difficult start to life she can be proud that she has gone on to become a success in her own right and an excellent role model to other children and care leavers that she continues to help. We want to make sure that every child in our care feels just as supported every single step of the way and our team of more than 200 foster families plays a vital role in ensuring that this can happen."
There is a shortage in foster carers locally and nationally, so Sanna is urging people in Kirklees to consider coming forward, and taking up a role in foster care, to help meet the demand of children in care.
Kirklees Council are currently looking for foster families to help 30 young children. Foster carers can come from all ages and backgrounds, including:
- Single - male or female, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, married or living as a couple.
- Divorced or widowed
- With or without children
- Any religious faith or none at all
- Any cultural background
- Homeowners or renting
- Employed, retired or on benefits
- With or without professional childcare experience
- With or without qualifications
If you are interested in becoming a Foster Carer. Kirklees Council will be holding a drop-in information event at the John Smith's stadium (Stadium Way, Huddersfield, HD1 6PG) on Tuesday the 12th of February between 5:30pm and 7:30pm, where you can talk to experience foster carers.
Or you can contact the fostering team at www.kirklees.gov.uk/fostering or call 0800 389 0086 for more information.