Volunteers from all religions are being sought to help bring a listening ear and a kind word into the lives of hospital patients across the city.

The Chaplaincy Service at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is looking to increase its volunteer numbers to cater for people’s spiritual needs while they are in hospital. The multi-faith service caters for people of different faiths and those of none. It currently has 73 volunteers but wants to expand its reach even further.

Head of Chaplaincy, Mohammed Arshad, said: “The Trust employs seven chaplains representing all major religions in the city, but we also need an enthusiastic, caring team of volunteer visitors as they help to supplement our work in providing pastoral healthcare.

“Our service plays an integral part in improving the experience of patients by being there for them in their hour of need – whether that is by providing a listening ear, words of encouragement or fulfilling religious and pastoral support when required.

“Nursing and medical staff provide the clinical support for patients. The Chaplaincy team provides holistic support and wellbeing. For many this is a vital source of comfort during their stay with us. The Chaplaincy volunteers support the chaplaincy team by visiting patients for a few hours every week, to show support and encouragement.

To become a volunteer you need to be aged 17 and over, and be able to commit at least 2-3 hours every week to the hospital. All volunteers must undergo a training course, led by the hospital chaplains, before they are permitted to work on the Trust’s wards.

Hospital chaplain, Maryam Riaz, added: “The Chaplains deliver a thorough training programme to equip potential volunteers with the essential skills that are required for visiting patients.

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

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

In December, chaplaincy volunteer Kath Duree, who lives in Coley near Halifax, was named the Trust’s Volunteer of the Year for her work on ward F6 at St. Luke’s Hospital.

The retired grandma used to work supporting adults with learning difficulties, and became interested in becoming a volunteer after visiting her mum-in-law in hospital.

She said: “I noticed that there were many elderly people who never seemed to have visitors and I thought that was such a shame. It’s a pleasure being a volunteer because I meet such lovely people. Many of them have suffered strokes and they are so brave and positive about their rehabilitation. I also work with dementia patients and I love reminiscing with them.”

If you are interested in becoming a chaplaincy volunteer, please contact Dawn Arnison on 01274-365819 or email dawn.arnison@bthft.nhs.uk. The Trust will be running a four-day induction course for chaplaincy volunteers on October 3-7, 9.30am-4pm, at St Luke’s Hospital. Volunteers will need to apply as soon as possibly however, so that various checks can take place ahead of training.