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CARE: Maryam Riaz has been a Chaplain at the Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital for almost ten years and described the work of volunteers as ‘remarkable’

CARE: Maryam Riaz has been a Chaplain at the Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital for almost ten years and described the work of volunteers as ‘remarkable’

Could you ‘be the backbone’ at Bradford hospitals

Volunteers from all religions are being sought to help bring a listening ear and a kindly word into the lives of hospital patients in Bradford.

The chaplaincy service at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, which caters to people of different faiths and those of no faith, wants to expand its reach and recruit even more volunteers than the 60 it currently has.

Mohammed Arshad, head of chaplaincy at the hospitals, has been in his role for the past 15 years and has seen the ‘huge impact’ volunteers can have on patients’ lives.

Explaining how the role of a volunteer can often be the difference between a ‘good day and a bad one’ for people on the wards, he said: “The volunteers are the backbone of our department.

“It is not all about religion with our department as our main aim is to ensure the spiritual wellbeing of each patient is catered for, regardless of their beliefs.

SUPPORT: Head of Chaplaincy, Mohammed Arshad, is one of seven chaplains who currently work at the hospitals with 60 volunteers

SUPPORT: Head of Chaplaincy, Mohammed Arshad, is one of seven chaplains who currently work at the hospitals with 60 volunteers

“The Trust currently employs seven chaplains who represent all major religions in the city, but we also need an enthusiastic team of volunteer visitors who can supplement our staff’s work in providing spiritual healthcare.

“This support and enhancement of our compassionate care ethos helps to enhance the patient experience here at our Trust and for many patients is a vital source of comfort during their stay.”

To become a volunteer you need to be aged 17-years-old and over, and be able to commit at least two-to-three hours every week to the hospitals.

Four days of training are provided to applicants before they undertake their roles on site, on their preferable wards if available, with inter

Hospital chaplain, Maryam Riaz, will have been working with the Bradford hospitals for ten years in August.

She said that the work of volunteers is ‘crucial and remarkable in its own right’, and allowed every department to run smoother.

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She added: “The chaplains deliver a thorough training programme to equip potential volunteers with the essential skills that are required for visiting patients.

“This includes how to provide general support to patients in a variety of situations during their hospital stay, understanding religion and spirituality from different faiths, vital listening skills and an introduction to providing bereavement support.”

Previous chaplaincy volunteers have won awards in recognition for the dedication, commitment and kindness they have shown across the Foundation Trust’s hospitals.

Every year, an annual ‘Thank you Lunch’ is held for the volunteers where the hospital’s chief executives and chairperson will attend to commend the efforts.

Terry Kershaw, from Bankfoot in Bradford, came third in the Foundation Trust’s Volunteer of the Year awards last year after being nominated for his work by staff on ward 26 of the Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Meanwhile, in 2013, chaplaincy visitor Mary Gilmartin won second prize at the annual ceremony after being nominated by Maryam.

If you are interested in becoming a chaplaincy volunteer, please contact Dawn Arnison on 01274-365819 or email dawn.arnison@bthft.nhs.uk.

The Foundation Trust is currently interviewing prospective candidates in advance of the four-day induction course for new chaplaincy volunteers, between 5th and 8th October, 9.30-4pm, at St Luke’s Hospital.

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