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East End foster carers praised by Boris Johnson

PUBLISHED: 15:24 24 May 2011

Pamela Chesters, the mayor's advisor for Health and Youth Opportunities, with Afia Choudhury

Pamela Chesters, the mayor's advisor for Health and Youth Opportunities, with Afia Choudhury

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A woman who has fostered 25 East End children was thanked by Boris Johnson during a special ceremony to get more Londoners to become carers.

Over many years Afia Choudhury has welcomed babies to teenagers into her home and while their experiences differed, with some subjected to domestic violence, neglect or abuse, they all had one thing in common – the need for a secure, safe home.

Ms Choudhury, who is currently caring for four Tower Hamlets kids under 6, was handed a letter of appreciation from the mayor during Friday’s ceremony at City Hall.

But for her, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the troubled children she takes in leave with more confidence and a proper shot in life.

Despite having four boys of her own, the 43-year-old still finds time to keep in touch with most of the youngsters she cared for.

She said: “Some came in crying and screaming and it’s a question of getting them settled. The challenge is trying to find out what’s happened and if you can understand why they have that behaviour you’re halfway there to helping them. It’s rewarding when you see them improve.

“You can’t not be attached to a child when you look after them but you have to understand when it’s time for them to go. All the teenagers I’ve looked after will ring me up. One of the boys did brilliantly in his A Levels and I was so proud.”

Ms Choudhury also tries to spread the word about fostering to minority ethnic groups as there is a shortage of these carers in London.

She added: “Some of the children don’t speak a word of English. It must be absolutely frightening to go somewhere where the language, the food, everything, is different.

“It’s also important that London children are kept in London which is what Boris Johnson said.”

Some 2,000 more foster carers are needed in the capital.

The event was part of Foster Care Fortnight.


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