Grandparents Shakeel Ahmed and Zahida Bibi are encouraging and empowering other Asian parents to help transform a young child’s life.

The couple, from Birmingham, provided short-break foster care to ‘Aaliyah’ (not her real name) before becoming her full-time carers.

The little girl at first rarely wanted to leave the house but today her favourite activities include trips to the park to watch the ducks, and parties in the garden with her friends.

The couple hope to encourage even more families to open their homes and their hearts to vulnerable children and young people.

Shakeel, aged 51, and Zahida, aged 55, were introduced to the concept of short-break foster care when two of their own children were born with life-limiting conditions and the family needed some additional support.

Sadly the children passed away but the couple were inspired by the help they received and decided to become carers themselves, joining the Barnardo’s West Midlands Fostering & Short Breaks Service.

They were matched with Aaliyah, a young girl with a life-limiting condition and profound disabilities which confined her to a wheelchair, in 2011.

They provided respite care once a month, for four nights, taking responsibility for all aspects of her care.

The placement was such a success that they were invited to become her full-time foster carers a year later, in 2012, and have been looking after her ever since.


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