A MUSLIM couple are encouraging more people from ethnic and religious minorities to help tackle a shortage of carers.
Jav and Zed Aslam are looking after a teenage boy at their Sunderland home – their third child placement since qualifying as foster carers for North Shields-based agency Team Fostering, last year.
Across the region, only three carers out of 88 supported by Team Fostering are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Jav, 46, a family intervention project worker in Sunderland City Council’s Youth Offending Service, and wife Zed, 45, a business management graduate, were moved to help youngsters less fortunate than their own.
Jav said: “I worked as a special constable at Gill Bridge Avenue police station for 11 years.
“I was involved in community work with the local mosques and working to try to keep youngsters out of trouble.
“I came across family situations, going to homes, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries and realised the issues that were out there for some kids.”
With their own children now aged 24 and 18, the couple got involved in fostering.
“We did our research and found Team Fostering who were not-for-profit which we liked, and they were very focused on the child,” said Zed, a full-time foster carer for Team Fostering.
“My house is always welcoming to people from any religion.
“My own children are so supportive and I can’t describe the feeling of being able to help give a young person the prospect of a brighter future.”
The couple have cared for two non-Muslim white youngsters and are committed to caring for children whatever their backgrounds and cultures.
Jav said: “Because we are practising Muslims, we don’t have anything to do with alcohol and we don’t have anything to do with bacon or pork within our household.
“We have looked after two boys from white English backgrounds and they have respected that.”
Walter Young, director at Team Fostering, said: “We try to provide a diverse range of foster carers to get the best match for the children.
“There are some groups within our communities that maybe don’t think about fostering and we are reaching out to them, to tell them about the rewards that are to be had.”
For more information on becoming a foster carer, contact Team Fostering on 257 6806 or visit www.teamfostering.co.uk