Annie Shafi left a successful career in the hospitality industry to pursue her dream of providing a loving home to a needy child. But the path to foster carer status is not an easy one – as she was to find out…
Q. Who is Annie Shafi?
A. I am a wife, mother, people person and an all round go-getter. I’m from an Indo-Pak background and I’m married to a revert from the Caribbean – we’ve been together for 22 years, Alhamdulillah! We have one son who is currently studying for his ‘A’ Levels.
I have had a long and successful career in the hospitality industry, Masha Allah. From being hired as a receptionist over 20 years ago, to winning multiple awards and being featured in the Guardian, I have had a great time setting up hotels, managing hotels, and working hard to deliver positive results.
Q. How did your journey with fostering begin? What inspired you to apply?
A. Having reached the pinnacle of my career in the hospitality industry, I decided to seek other challenges in life; to make the world a better place and to improve the lives of others.
At the same time, there was a large influx of Syrian children. Their plight was advertised all over the London area and I was deeply moved by the tragedy of their situation. That’s when my interest in becoming a foster grew.
Q. So, you were interested. What did you do next?
A. Well, I searched online to find ways to foster a Syrian refugee child. Then I contacted the agency who took my details and, after a brief interview over the phone, they advised me that an assessor would contact me in due course to inspect our household.
The initial visit by the assessor lasted for about an hour. She wanted to meet me, my husband, as well as our son. She inspected our home and the bedroom in which we planned to accommodate the foster child (at the time of initial visit the bedroom was being used as a storage room).
Q. what are your thoughts on the process? How did you feel while you were going through it?
A. After this visit, our family was invited to attend a weekend course called “ Skill to Foster” based at the agency’s office. During the course we were left in no doubt about some of the challenges we were likely to face during our fostering journey: they made it clear to us the stark possibilities of the troubled nature and damaging experiences foster children have been through and that may arise and influence the behavioural and emotional context.
I believe the trainers wanted to make sure that we understood the worst case scenarios and possible ramifications so we did not underestimate how difficult it may be. Although it was a bit daunting, this helped balance our uninformed preconceptions and made us feel more prepared for whatever would come our way.
Read Part 2 of the journey here.