Shaaista Yousaf explains how meeting The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice’s chaplain inspired her to take a new path.
I left my work as a support worker in a sheltered housing scheme and wanted to do something else but was not sure what.
A colleague from my religious centre, Al-Meezan in Glasgow, was already working as a prison chaplain and mentioned the need for more female chaplains across the board in education, hospitals and prisons.
I was not sure which chaplaincy work I was suited to. Then events took a turn as my younger brother Azhar become ill due to pancreatic cancer. I would often visit him in The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice and there I met Rev Leslie Edge, the hospice’s chaplain.
I noticed the ease with which Leslie worked and how approachable he was, and how beneficial his visits were for my brother. I felt this was something I would like to do but my brother needed me so I concentrated on him and his needs.
Unfortunately Azhar passed away in December 2015 and I felt really down. I knew I had to do something positive to lift my spirits. I decided to do the Muslim Chaplaincy course at Markfield Institute of Higher Education in Leicester and the field I chose was to become a hospital chaplain.
This meant I had to go to Leicester once a month for lectures and had to do assignments, presentations, keep a journal of my work on the wards and arrange a placement.
I got a placement at Hairmyres Hospital East Kilbride. After qualifying, I have continued to work there as a volunteer Muslim chaplain. I visit patients of all faiths and people of no faith. I feel this is a calling and it's what I love to do. I learn a lot from being with patients, about acceptance, being positive, and about different types of coping mechanisms that patients use. The experience has enriched my life and I look forward to going into work - I see it as a blessing.