Fatima Kassam

Fatima Kassam was the first female Muslim chaplain appointed at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and has worked with the Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care team since 2009. Here’s a day in her life. 

Daily routine

I wake up at six in the morning, do my reflective practice at home and I pray. I officially start at 10am, but if I’m required to be here earlier, I’ll come and adjust my day depending on the needs of the patients. On Tuesdays I have lots of meetings to go to, so my time is quite tight. I have an hour free that day to do ward rounds. On a Thursday I just take it as it comes. I also organise events for the religious festivals in the Islamic calendar, including the Eids, Ramadan and the Prophet’s birthday.

Offering support

We offer spiritual care to parents, patients, siblings, family members and we also support staff as well. It can range from just sitting there and saying nothing to praying for them or with them too. When a patient is admitted to the hospital they have a questionnaire that they fill out, so I know if they are Muslim. We’re very involved with the psychosocial team, so they will often refer patients to us. We also hear from other chaplaincy colleagues. They will say: ‘There’s a really nice mum here who would love to see you,’ and we do the same in return for other faiths.

A multi-faith team

We work closely with every faith, so we have chaplains of many denominations: Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Anglican, Roman Catholic, among others. Everyone is working towards one goal: supporting the patients and their families. My colleagues will get on board when we’re doing tasks, for example during an Eid festival, and they are always asking us what they can do to help. I am always at the hospital on Christmas Day. My boss and I go up to the wards to wish everyone a merry Christmas. It’s something that’s very special for me.

Achievements

When I first came to GOSH it was very difficult – the word chaplain was something I couldn’t explain because of the language difficulty – there is no word in the Islamic faith for a chaplain, or a female chaplain. Now there’s so much awareness and demand and I’m proud of the Muslim chaplaincy because it’s really grown.

Finishing work

At the end of the day we have admin work to finish up. I’ll see if anybody else in the team needs support or help with visits or anything like that, and then go home. At the moment, outside of work, my focus is on the Iceland trek in July for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. A lot of my time is spent towards achieving this goal. I love everything about my job. It’s a great privilege to be in a place like GOSH, where you are such a support for parents who are often at such a low point in their lives.