Raheem is autistic and has lived with the Hussains since he was nine years old. He was fostered by the Greenford family and then came to live with them through a little-known scheme with a big impact.
Ealing Shared Lives has been run by Ealing Council for almost 25 years. It places adults who have additional needs with local families – either to live with them or to spend some regular time together.
It can be a full-time arrangement as an alternative to living in a care home. Or carers can help by providing respite care – giving other families a break, whether for a weekend, a day, or even a few hours.
It is Shared Lives Week from 16 June – and several events are being held, at which you can find out a lot more about the scheme. See further down this story for more information.
The Hussains story
Zahid and Rukhsana Hussain are foster carers and had been fostering for only two years when Raheem first came to stay with them, as a nine-year-old. You can view a short video interview with the family at the top of this page.
Zahid told us how it all began: “He first came to us as a foster child with two of his sisters. It was in 2000, so almost 18 years ago. He was meant to be here for two weeks over the Christmas period but he has been here ever since. There must have been 100 other foster children who we have looked after and who have come and gone, but Raheem never left.
“We fostered him and he felt comfortable and he became part of the family. So, when he turned 18 and became classified as an adult, or semi-independent, we had to go through a process of being approved again to transfer him across to the Shared Lives programme. But it was easier because he was already here with us and had been for so long.”
The Hussains have three grown-up sons and a daughter, and two of the sons, Bilal and Asad, have both been approved by the council to act as respite carers for Raheem to give their parents a break now and again. So, it is a real family affair.
“It has been a joint family thing, or it would have been more difficult,” said Zahid.
Rukhsana agreed, and said: “Our children are very helpful. My daughter says Raheem is ‘my fourth brother’ and nobody minds looking after him, even though it is not always easy to.”
“I always refer to him as my brother,” Asad added. “I grew up with him.”
Rukhsana concluded: “It is so rewarding. I’m his mum. I know when he is feeling different emotions; everyone in the family does. We’ve given him our life and have had to sacrifice things for him, but it’s worth it. We are a family.”
Want to find out more?
Shared Lives is looking to recruit more carers. They are paid and receive training and support, as well as holidays. Visit www.ealing.gov.uk/sharedlives or you can call 020 8825 5436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Shared Lives Week
National Shared Lives Week runs between 16-24 June. Three events will be held locally, at which you can find out more about the Ealing scheme:
- Monday, 18 June – there will be a stand at Perceval House in Ealing (W5 2HL) between 9am–4pm, in the customer service area
- Wednesday, 20 June – at a craft fair held by the Perivale Residents’ Association between 12-4pm – at 2 Scorton Avenue, Perivale UB6 8LA
- Friday, 22 June – Picnic event at Brent Lodge ‘Bunny’ Park, close to Hanwell Zoo, between 1-4pm. Meet at the band stand.