Not only are Muslim staff in Bradford’s hospitals receiving unprecedented support during Ramadan this year– some of their non-Muslim colleagues are joining them to fast on Fridays in solidarity and to raise money.

Bradford Hospitals’ Charity – the official NHS charity of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – launched its Fasting Fridays campaign on the first Friday of Ramadan last week (24 March) with the message ‘Skip lunch – change a life’. Non-Muslim staff were invited to fast with their Muslim colleagues and make a small donation to fund projects across the Trust which support staff and their patients. Muslim staff were invited to donate some of their Sadaqah.

Chief Executive of Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Prof Mel Pickup, led the way by fasting. She said: “I’m fasting to show support and solidarity for the many colleagues across our organisation and health and care partnerships who are fasting and observing the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

Tony Dook, Medical Illustration Manager based at St Luke’s Hospital, said he wanted to show solidarity with his Muslim colleagues and friends by taking part in Fasting Friday and making a donation to Bradford Hospitals’ Charity. He works closely with the Trust’s Interpretation and Patient Communication Manager, Naz Hussain, who is fasting for Ramadan and has given him tips on how to manage.

“It feels like just one day isn’t much compared to a full 28 days,” said Tony. “I was intrigued to find out how difficult it would be. So many members of the Bradford community fast during Ramadan and I wanted to show my support. I have to say that fasting for a full 28 days is incredibly impressive. I have still been drinking water and it has been difficult.”

Naz praised his colleague Tony for fasting. “He’s done well,” he said. “The more people who take part and understand what it’s like, the better. I think more people are starting to see the health benefits of fasting too.”

Bradford-based restaurant chain MyLahore, which is one of the founding members of the Bradford Hospitals’ Charity’s 100 Club, provided free hot food for staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary, as an Iftar treat for the first Fasting Friday.

Ishfaq Farooq, Director of MyLahore, said it meant a great deal to him and his family to support the NHS.

“My family and I have a long-standing appreciation for the NHS because of the care and treatment we have received over the years,” he explained. “My brother was on dialysis for 20 years, and my nephew had neonatal care, so we are great supporters of the Bradford Hospitals’ Charity BIG Neonatal Appeal, because we understand first-hand the experiences parents have in hospital. This is why we are so passionate about supporting our hospitals. Bradford Hospitals’ Charity enhances the experience of patients in hospital and so we want to help where we can.”

Ishfaq added that he was delighted to put a smile on the faces of NHS staff by providing food from MyLahore.

“It’s really hard not eating and drinking all day, so for those who are treating patients and still working in the hospital, it’s incredibly difficult. This gives them something to look forward to and I really hope our food puts a smile on their faces.”

For the first time this year, Bradford Hospitals’ Charity has funded PROP Packs for managers across Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which contain items and information which enable them to set up pop-up prayer facilities during the Holy Month for their staff.

The charity has also funded FAST Packs, which contain essential items for those fasting, such as prayer mats, a prayer counter, prayer timetable, dates and a water bottle.

Both packs were devised by the Trust’s Spiritual Pastoral and Religious Care (SPaRC) Team.

The money raised during the Fasting Fridays and by Muslim staff during Ramadan will go towards funding projects to support staff, as well as items and initiatives which enhance patient treatment and care.

Bradford Hospitals’ Charity Director Sharon Milner said: “It means a great deal to our charity to support all our colleagues across Bradford Teaching Hospitals. It has been wonderful to work with our SPaRC Team on this particular project to ensure our Muslim colleagues receive the support they need during the Holy Month, and that managers feel empowered and equipped to assist where they can. It’s incredibly worthwhile and heartening to see how valued colleagues feel. We look forward to working with the SPaRC Team again in the future.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Bradford Hospitals’ Charity Ramadan Appeal can do so at https://bradfordhospitalscharity.enthuse.com/cf/ramadan-2023

Mohammed arshad handing out food from MyLahore to Radiographer Oosamah Shaikh

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