‘It is like living with my best friend’ - Disabled Peterborough teenager taken into care finds happiness with foster mum

Iqra Saeed
Iqra Saeed
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As part of National Care Leavers’ Week, Iqra Saeed of Peterborough writes about the happiness she has found with her foster carer Natalie:

I am 19 years old and I went into care at the age of 15 due to parental neglect.

My first months in foster care were not very positive. I was frustrated because the various professionals I encountered would not listen to me. They thought they know what is best for me because they are adults and would not take views of a child into account.

I have spina bifida and use a wheelchair, and sometimes I felt like my first two foster families saw me through my disability. I remember one day I was eating dinner with my carer and she just stared at me.

When I looked at her she asked: “Did you have polio or something?”. That memory has stuck with me. 

Everything changed when I was placed with TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust) carer Natalie, on respite. When I first arrived at her house I was slightly worried because I have an Asian background, as did all my previous foster carers, but Natalie did not.

For that simple reason I thought we wouldn’t get along, but I need not have worried. I remember she showed me to my room and there was a TV with DVDs next to it.

It was the smallest thing but it made a big difference. Natalie saw me as a normal teenager. I felt welcome from the beginning like I was at home, and the fact that she has kids of her own also helped.

After two weeks I asked Natalie if I could continue to stay with her because I felt better with her than with my carers at that time. She agreed, but we knew that it will not be that simple.

I wrote a very long email to my social worker explaining how staying with Natalie would benefit my wellbeing and my mental health. My social worker agreed and I have been living with Natalie for three years now.

Living with Natalie has really given me stability and a sense of having my own home. I remember I used to be so nervous and felt an urge to ask even if I can make myself a cup of tea. Now I am so comfortable. We cook together, try new recipes, gossip and watch telly. It is like living with my best friend. 

I have just started a journalism degree at university this September and I continue living with Natalie under Staying Put arrangement. I am sure I wouldn’t be where I am now without her. Thanks to her support I am also learning to drive and have already passed the theoretical test. 

Being in care taught me not to be afraid, to express my opinion, and I would encourage other children and young people to do the same.

Not everyone might listen, but there will always be that one person who will.  

I am a proof that good foster care can turn a young person’s life around and put them on the right path to leading a happy and fulfilling life.

More National Care Leavers’ Week 2017 stories:

Peterborough teenager Jemma Davis describes successful battle with anorexia thanks to support of foster parents

Sam Cliffe “They have become just mum and dad” - Peterborough woman’s heartfelt thanks to foster parents


Find out more about National Care Leavers’ Week 2017 (25 October - 3 November) and The Care Leavers Foundation, at thecareleaversfoundation.org.