ILFORD – A new volunteer-led service has been set up to provide emotional support to Muslim patients at Queen’s Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Ilford.
“It’s very interesting and you hear lots of stories about their lives,” Sofia Bhatti, a member of the Muslims Support Service (MSS), told The Guardian.
“I feel privileged that they want to share their stories with me.”
The MSS was brought on board after identifying a need for more specialist support for Muslim patients in hospitals.
Along with Bhatti, the MSS service board included Saima Razzaque, Shamim Merchant, and Tabassum Khokhar.
Already experienced volunteers for the MSS based at the Gardens of Peace in Hainault, all four were providing support over the phone and face-to-face to members of the Islamic community who had experienced a bereavement.
“My husband died in 2012 and it was a traumatic time. That made this a cause close to my heart so I wanted to do something,” Bhatti said.
“One elderly man stands out for me, I wasn’t sure if he wanted to chat, but he so appreciated it and said what I was doing was amazing. That really reinforced it for me.”
Volunteers offer support to all Muslim patients, not just those nearing the end of their life.
Tabassum, 47, of Gants Hill, added: “I spoke to one lady with breast cancer and her son said I got more out of her in half an hour than he’d been able to in hours.
“We try to be a friendly face and help to make them feel better. I feel blessed to do it and get real satisfaction from it when I can put a smile on a patient’s face.”