Tag Archives: love

Malaika’s Story…


When you first meet seven-year-old Malaika Azeem from Bradford, she appears to be a healthy little girl. But at only a few weeks old, Malaika was diagnosed with life-limiting Congenital Heart Disease, a condition that causes increased heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain and mobility problems. Malaika is in need of round the clock care that often leaves mum Sanam struggling to cope.

Malaika also suffers from frequent cyanosis, which causes poor oxygenation of the blood, otherwise known as ‘blue episodes’, for which she requires immediate hospitalisation. For mum Sanam, the past six years have been a constant battle to find support for the family.

She explains:

“The last 12 months have been really stressful for us all. In January last year, Malaika underwent open-heart surgery and doctors were unsure as to whether she’d pull through. After the operation, I cared for Malaika myself, changing her tracheotomy at home, as well as managing her physiotherapy. Since then, she has had several severe blue episodes and endured repeated hospital stays.

“I’m lucky to have the support of my parents and sister, who live close by, but there are very few people I would trust with Malaika’s care. Although I’ve previously tried to access different services in Bradford, there are few who really understand Malaika’s condition. Because she looks normal, people don’t understand.”

The challenge of caring for Malaika 24 hours a day, seven days a week is made more difficult as Sanam must juggle Malaika’s needs with those of her three sisters. Nimrah 13, Romesa 10, and Saira 3. For them, family life revolves around Malaika’s medical care, meaning that weekend activities and time out together are almost impossible.

Sanam explains further.

“Planning outings is a huge struggle. In the past, when we’ve been out and about, Malaika has fallen or become ill, so when I’m looking at places to go I have to consider where is suitable for her, and what might happen if she is ill away from home.

“I often feel guilty not being able to spend time with the other children. They sometimes get upset at the amount of attention I give Malaika, but when she falls ill, they understand why she needs me so much. My eldest, Nimrah, acts as a mother, sister and friend. She will help to wash and change Malaika and is a huge support to me. I’ve always tried to be honest with them all about the reality of Malaika’s condition and we take each day as it comes.”

Sanam self-referred Malaika to Martin House in the summer of 2015, and was overjoyed when the family were invited to a special tour prior to their first stay: After their first stay at Martin House in November last year, the Bradford family are hopeful that, with the right support, life can become a little more manageable.

“Malaika loved her first visit to the hospice. When we got there she didn’t know where to look first, and was so excited saying, “look at this, look at that”. She didn’t want to come home at all! Before our first proper stay in November, Malaika had been very ill and I was barely sleeping. The stay came at just the right time for both of us.”

“The time we spent at Martin House was an extraordinary experience. It was so good to get away from everything. Going to the hospice gives me the chance to talk to other parents and realise I’m not alone – their children might have different needs but we are all in the same boat. I don’t need sympathy; it’s so wonderful to be able to speak to people who understand.”

“When I talk to people about the hospice, they assume it’s all about end of life care. But Martin House do everything. Malaika loves to sing, and when she last stayed, she made a CD of her singing nursery rhymes and other songs. When I listened to it, I was in tears! It’s building up these memories that’s so special, all the little things that we do together that mean so much.”




Spotlight on Martin House Hospice

Martin House Hospice near Wetherby, opened its doors as the North’s first purpose-built hospice for children and young people in 1987. This year will mark its 30th Anniversary. Over that time, it has supported over 2000 children with life-shortening illnesses from across the Yorkshire region.

Nearly a third of the children cared for by Martin House come from the Bradford District, and the hospice community nurses spend a large amount of time supporting those families in their homes or in hospitals in and around the district.

For those who wish, there is also the opportunity for families  to come to stay at the  hospice near Wetherby, set in six acres of landscaped gardens, for planned respite care to allow them time to rest and spend quality time together as a family, or for emergency care, symptom control or end-of-life care if needed. Families who have lost a child can be supported by bereavement visitors; they can access that service even if they haven’t been to Martin House before.

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Martin House, they will be holding a family-friendly event with their inflatable art installation at Delius Arts and Cultural Centre on 23rd August.

To find out more about the event and Martin House, visit the website: www.martinhouse.org.uk or call 01937 845045 or on the Bradford local offer website.


Congratulations to the winners of the Foster Carer Awards 2017

Bradford foster carers have been recognised and awarded for the selfless work they do looking after some of the city’s most vulnerable children, at a special awards ceremony organised by Bradford Council.

The awards are the Fostering Service’s opportunity to thank its carers and celebrate their achievements in supporting Bradford’s most vulnerable children. The ceremony was held on Monday 10 July 2017 in City Hall and celebrated the long service, commitment and dedication of Bradford’s foster carers.

Three inspirational fostering families in Bradford were also celebrated as exceptional carers at the Awards ceremony, alongside recognition and commendation of all the fostering families who have achieved long service milestones of between 10 and 35 years.

Cllr Val Smith said:

“Bradford’s foster carers dedication and commitment to the most vulnerable children in our city is amazing. It has been humbling and very moving to hear all their wonderful stories of love and care. It was fantastic to see them receive their awards from the Lord Mayor and to share this special moment with them.”

Michael Jameson, Strategic Director Children’s Services opened the ceremony with a speech about the importance of the work that carers do in keeping making a fantastic difference to  our children’s lives.

Jim Hopkinson, Deputy Director Children’s Services, announced each carer receiving a long service award. The Lord Mayor, Cllr Abid Hussain, presented each carer with a certificate of appreciation. Carers who had reached 15 years or more also received a bouquet of flowers and those carers who had achieved 20, 25, 30 and 35 years also received an engraved crystal award in recognition of their long service.

For the new Exceptional Carer Award, social workers in the fostering service were asked to nominate carers who had shown exceptional service over the past year – 21 carers were put forward, which reflects the scale of the number of Bradford’s foster carers who will go above and beyond what is required of them to support and care for a child in need.

The winners and runners up of the Exceptional Carer of the Year Award were selected by a panel made up of the fostering team managers.

Gareth Flemyng, Fostering Service Manager for Bradford Council, invited the three nominees’ champions to explain to the audience of foster carers, social workers, and senior Children’s Services staff, why their carers had been nominated. All three nominees were presented with awards and certificates in recognition of the service they had provided.

The winning foster carers for Exceptional Carer Award of 2017 were:

Evelyn and Raymond Harrison – Mainstream Foster Carers

Evelyn and Raymond’s commitment and dedication to Natty throughout his short life was exceptional. Natty came to them when he was 9 weeks old and he was 12 years old when he passed away. From the very beginning of his life with them, Evelyn and Raymond fully embraced his complexities and loved him like he was their own son. Their whole family life orbited around Natty and his needs.

Natty was born with drugs in his bloodstream and he struggled with a wide range of disabilities and complex health needs due to his mother’s drug addictions during her pregnancy and his difficult birth. These had profound effects on Natty for his whole life – he had significant global developmental delay, severe irritability, microcephaly, severe birth asphyxia and neonatal abstinence syndrome. He was gastrostomy fed and had an ileostomy.

Little Natty was always uncomfortable laying down and would have frequent epileptic fits, which would twist his little body in to painful shapes, so Evelyn spent a lot of his life holding him and carrying him in her arms to give him the comfort and support he needed.

Caring for Natty on a day-to-day basis would have been a huge challenge for any carer, yet throughout the 12 years of his life, Evelyn and Raymond were constant in their commitment and love for him and are slowly coming to terms with his death. They are sensitive and compassionate people who gave Natty an exceptionally good life.

The runners up were:

Mark Smith – Support Care

Mark was nominated because of the support and dedication he has shown since 2015 to a teenage boy. The young man has been through several massive upheavals in his personal life but Mark has remained steadfast providing a trusting, supportive relationship and a safe space for the teenager to be himself and have time away from his stressful home environment and the uncertainties surrounding his future.

As a support carer, Mark provides planned short respite breaks for children after school and a couple of overnight stays over the weekends twice a month, but during this young man’s most stressful period of life when he had nowhere to stay, Mark offered for him to come and stay full time until a permanent home could be found. Mark continues to provide a respite placement for the child and remains the only consistent male role model in his life.

Mary Thompson Lister – Connected Person (Family & Friends Carer)

Mary was nominated for her devotion and commitment to providing a loving and stable family home for her grandchildren. Mary currently looks after her two youngest grandchildren, but she also cared for their older brother and sister, who are now adults. The two younger children have complex needs including ADHD and FASD, along with autistic traits so, through no fault of their own, can be a handful to care for and are constantly on the go from the moment they wake until they fall asleep at night.

Mary has attended lots of training over the years to help her better understand and meet the children’s needs. She is also an outstanding advocate for the children at their school, working with the school to make sure their individual needs are met. She has engaged the children in their wider community and has helped them become involved in the local Royal Legion. Mary has helped the children experience the wider world by taking them on holidays both home and abroad – they are regular visitors at Butlins and have their own red coats.

‘You Can Foster’ campaign launched

A new fostering campaign for the North of England in 2017 is launched during Foster Care Fortnight which started this week.

‘You Can Foster’ has so far helped create more than 1,000 enquiries from prospective foster carers.

Foster children have hopes and dreams too – help make them a reality.

This year potential foster carers will be able to meet experienced carers at ‘open house’ sessions at key family-friendly spots across Yorkshire.

Events will be held in the Bradford district.

Event dates :-
• Saltaire local produce market – Saturday, 13 May
• Bradford City Cycle event – Sunday, 14 May
• Information Meeting at Margaret McMillan Tower, Bradford at 6pm on Wednesday, 17 May

David Byrom, Bradford Council’s Head of Through care and Resources, said: “Foster carers are great ambassadors and we hope that by having them talk to potential carers they can encourage more people to take up fostering. There are a number of myths around fostering which are stopping people engaging; people thinking they’re too old, that they won’t get the support they need, that their sexuality makes a difference to their chances of fostering. We are saying, “Come on down and meet carers like you who can tell you what it’s really like to foster.”
Fostering is looking after a child or young person who can’t live with their own family. There are a number of reasons they might not be able to live with their family and it can be a very difficult time for the child so they’ll needs lots of support and care. There are around 8255 households across the North of England who foster for their local authority.
Across Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside there are around 11,525 children living in foster care.

Local Authorities particularly need to recruit foster carers for certain groups of children including:
• Brothers and sisters
• Older children and young people
• Children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds
• Children that will be in foster care long term
• Children who need more specialist care

For more information please visit: http://youcanfoster.org/


Children set to celebrate their love of reading books

[Pictured above: Pupils from Dixons Marchbank Primary School celebrating World Book Day]

Children from schools across the District will be celebrating their love of reading and books by taking part in World Book Day today.

Whether you grew up with Charlotte’s Web and the friendship that grows between Wilbur, a runty pig, and Charlotte, a heroic spider,  the Famous Five or Harry Potter; there is nothing quite like delving into a good book.

And for many it blossoms into a love that lasts a lifetime. This is why World Book Day has become the annual celebration of books and reading and the time to encourage children to discover the magic inside the pages.

The event was first marked in the UK in 1997 amid concerns over reading and writing standards in schools.

World Book Day marks its 20th anniversary this year and organisers say the event is ‘a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and, most importantly, reading’. The main aim of World Book Day is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

Schools and nurseries are sent packs of Book Tokens and age-ranged World Book Day Resource Packs full of ideas and activities, display material and more information about how to get involved in World Book Day.

Thanks to the generosity of National Book Tokens Ltd some 15 million book tokens will be distributed. Children can take their voucher to a local bookseller and use it to pick one of ten exclusive, new and completely free books. Or, if they’d rather, they can use it to get £1 off any book or audio book costing over £2.99 at a participating bookshop or book club.

Since the campaign began, around 13 million £1 books have ended up in the hands of eager young readers.

This year’s 10 offerings cater for all ages from pre-school through to young adults in a bid to give as many as possible the chance to join in the fun. The titles for the nation’s youngest book lovers feature beloved characters Peppa Pig and extra-terrestrials from the Aliens Love Underpants series.

For readers at Key Stage 1, Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks has contributed a new Princess Mirror-Belle title and Martin Handford has made one of his Where’s Wally? adventures available.

They can also pick up some tips from Horrid Henry or catch up with the Famous Five, whereas Key Stage 2 readers are able to enjoy something new from beloved British authors David Walliams or Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Young Adult titles will come from Michael Grant and David Almond.

Coun Imran Khan, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Education, Employment and Skills said:

“We hope that World Book Day celebrated in schools creates readers for the future by igniting a love of books and reading in children and young people.  Bradford Council’s

Libraries are hosting a number of events which can be found here:  www.bradford.gov.uk/libraries.”

Tag us on Twitter: @bradfordmdc   

Send your photos to: fiona.binns@bradford.gov.uk

Pupils at Worthinghead Primary School dressed up as their favourite book characters