Muslim volunteers provide specialist support to Queen’s Hospital and King George Hospital patients

PUBLISHED: 10:12 14 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:16 14 November 2018

L-R: Shamim Merchant, Saima Razzaque, Alison Horncastle, Trust chaplain, Tabassum Khokhar and Sofia Bhatti. Photo: Queen's Hospital

L-R: Shamim Merchant, Saima Razzaque, Alison Horncastle, Trust chaplain, Tabassum Khokhar and Sofia Bhatti. Photo: Queen's Hospital


Volunteers from the Muslim Support Service (MSS) are providing emotional support to patients at the borough’s hospital.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, identified a need for more specialist support for Muslims patients.

The trust decided to bring on board volunteers, Saima Razzaque, Shamim Merchant, Tabassum Khokhar and Sofia Bhatti.

Already experienced volunteers for the MSS, based in the Gardens of Peace in Hainault, the four volunteers provided support to those who had experienced bereavement in the Muslim community.

Tabassum, 47, from Gants Hill said: “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.”

All volunteers are trained to help people dealing with bereavement, as they provide support to all patients at the hospital, not just those nearing the end of their life.

“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,” said Sofia, 49, from Redbridge.

“It’s very interesting and you hear lots of stories about their lives. I feel privileged that they want to share their stories with me.

“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.”

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