Rafiq Alam is a team chaplain at UH Bristol, with particular responsibility for Muslim patients. He works two days a week, with one day funded by UH Bristol and the second funded by Above & Beyond.

In my role at the UH Bristol Trust as a team chaplain with responsibility for Muslim patients I give pastoral care and spiritual support to all patients, but especially Muslims. 

I don’t just support patients, I support staff members and patients’ relatives as well. I help everybody I am able to, of all faiths and no faith. 

My support can include telling people about halal food options and the correct direction in which they should pray. As Muslims whenever and wherever we are pray we should face Makkah (Mecca), which is a central point for us. In Arabic, the direction is called qibla. I tell Muslim patients and staff which way the qibla is and they are really happy about it because they feel supported in the practice of their faith.

Muslims should wash themselves before prayer. At a minimum it must be four parts of the body – the whole face, arms up to the elbow, part of their head and their feet. Some patients can’t wash themselves due to their illness but the Quran (Quran: 5:6) permits such patients to perform a “dry ablution” and when I tell patients that they are very relieved. 

In terms of providing spiritual care, some patients want to listen to me recite the holy Quran and some patients just want someone to listen to their concerns. Some patients are really lonely here and just want some human contact. Whatever support they need I will try to give them what they are looking for.

I work in UH Bristol hospitals for two days a week. One day is funded by the NHS, and I am thankful that Above & Beyond fund my role for one day per week. This allows me to continue my journey supporting patients and staff, both Muslims and non-Muslims. The generosity of Above & Beyond supporters allows me to give a more comprehensive service and this helps me feel very fulfilled and happy.