Leaders from a diverse array of faiths descended on Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice to celebrate the launch of the charity’s newly created Peace Room.
The original chapel had been adapted over the years to accommodate all the different faiths and philosophies now common among the patients and families who use the Selly Park-based hospice, which cares for people across Birmingham and Sandwell.
But the recent refurbishment consolidates this work and offers people of all beliefs and none a peaceful space in which to worship or sit in quiet contemplation.
Attending the ceremony (on Wednesday, June 29) were representatives of Catholicism, Methodism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Quakerism, Judaism, Pentecostalism, Humanism and Anglicanism.
Speaking after the event Hospice Chief Executive Tina Swani said she was delighted to see so many different beliefs and cultures catered for at Birmingham St Mary’s.
“We take diversity and inclusiveness very seriously at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, as we aim to support people to achieve the best quality of life during their illness, and this includes respecting and responding to their spiritual needs. And although there have been no major structural changes to the room, a lot of work has gone in to creating a space that people of all faiths and philosophies feel comfortable in.
“The ceremony in which so many people gave such a wonderful array of blessings and affirmations, really gave a sense of reaching out and offering one and all at the Hospice a space for quiet contemplation and reflection, whether that be patients or their relatives. When you’re facing the journey that a life-limiting illness presents this is very important.”
In addition to the blessings and affirmations, many of the speakers brought gifts from their respective cultures such as pamphlets, pictures, and icons. These donations will remain in the Peace Room, complementing the various icons of each faith.
At the ceremony was West Midlands Humanist Celebrant Victoria Denning, who said: “I think a Peace Room is a wonderful idea and the ceremony was absolutely lovely. It’s very important for people coping with the end of life to have somewhere to withdraw to and find peace.”
Rehanah Sadiq, a Muslim chaplain for the NHS, added: “A sense of peace can really be felt in this room and during the ceremony there was a real togetherness among those attending.
“It’s great that Birmingham St Mary’s has created this space, as it sends a strong message of welcome to the community.”
Representing the Church of God of Prophecy in Winson Green was Bishop Basil Richards. He was impressed by the broad spectrum of beliefs represented.
“This room really enhances the good work being done at the Hospice and is a great resource for the families and their friends who need its care. It’s wonderful to see this organisation catering for all faiths and backgrounds,” Bishop Richards said.
Each year Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, whose services are possible thanks to public goodwill, cares for around 1,000 people with terminal conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and Aids.
The majority of patients are looked after in their homes, surrounded by family and friends. Those with more complex medical needs are able to stay in the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit in Selly Park for respite or symptom control.
Birmingham St Mary’s Day Hospice on the same site offers patients with less advanced conditions the chance of a weekly visit to receive medical support, complementary and creative therapies and friendship, whilst giving their home carers some time off.