A celebrated foster carer from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets who has looked after and provided shelter to almost 30 children in Tower Hamlets has been recognised for her outstanding services and contributions to fostering.
For 13 roller-coaster years, Afia Choudhury has not only provided warmth and care to children who needed love and attention but has provided exceptional support to hundreds of her fellow foster carers.
Afia has been awarded The Fostering Network’s President’s Award 2018 for her exceptional contribution to fostering through her selfless dedication. She proudly collected her award from the Children’s Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, at the recent Fostering Excellence Awards ceremony in London. She was amongst 21 select people who were celebrated at the ceremony for their outstanding contributions.
Since the first awards took place in 2014, the Fostering Excellence Awards have continued to grow year on year and the ceremony was well attended by guests from inside and outside of the fostering sector, and celebrated the outstanding achievements and exceptional contributions of some amazing young people, foster carers, social workers and fostering supporters.
Speaking about the Awards, The Fostering Network’s chief executive, Kevin Williams, said, “The Fostering Excellence Awards are my favourite event of the calendar year offering a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the difference that fostering makes to children and young people, the families that look after them and the wider fostering community. The achievements of our winners are incredible – we wish them all congratulations.”
In the UK alone over 65,000 children live with almost 55,000 foster families each day. An estimated 8,100 new foster families are needed across the UK during 2018 to provide stable, secure and loving homes for fostered children.
Afia, along with her husband Kamruz and their four sons, is currently caring for a group of three children who have lived with them for the last seven years. In a bid to accommodating the children the family have taken steps to extending their home.
The fostering ambassador who is the face of a national drive to recruit foster carers is also the chair of Tower Hamlets Foster Carers’ Association and is on hand to provide insight, advice and support to foster families. She has received almost 500 telephone calls alone in the last year and has been named an ambassador for Tower Hamlets council.
On receiving the award Afia said: “I am absolutely delighted, and deeply honoured to be receiving this prestigious award from The Fostering Network. I would like to thank Tower Hamlets who listened, guided and supported me over the years, and gave me the opportunity to support some of the wonderful children I have been lucky to look after, and for nominating me.
I came into fostering to make a difference to children, but actually they’ve made a difference to my life. I would love for others who are perhaps thinking about becoming foster carers to please come forward. Fostering has been a life transforming experience, which I would not change for anything.”
Libby Thornhill, President of The Fostering Network, said: “With over 8,000 new foster families needed this year, there is a particular need across the UK for people to foster groups of brothers and sisters, and we also know that more could be done to encourage more people from the Muslim community to become foster carers. Afia is a fantastic role model in both of these areas. Her passion for foster care shines through and this, alongside her clear commitment to the children in her care, means I am absolutely delighted that she is receiving this President’s Award.”
Tower Hamlets Mayor, John Biggs, said: “Afia is an absolute inspiration to everyone at Tower Hamlets. She has offered a loving home to almost 30 foster children over the years and we cannot underestimate just what a difference that has made to their lives and in making our borough a better place. I am thrilled that she has won this award. We are so lucky to have people like Afia and her husband Kamruz in Tower Hamlets. I hope their story will encourage others to become foster carers. We have many children who need a foster home and the difference one person can make is profound.”
Speaking about the selfless service she provides Afia said, “I came into fostering because I felt I had the time, I had the energy, I had the love and motivation to look after children. I think children need a home where they can feel safe, they can feel loved, they can be a part of a family.
My passion for fostering comes from the wonderful children that I’ve looked after over the years. They need to be looked after, they need to be loved and if you can work with them and watch them grow it’s such a wonderful feeling.”