Natalie Bowen - Community Newswire
An Islamic leader has become a patron of a British children's hospice as part of an effort to strengthen links in the community. The appointment was made on the fifth anniversary of the suicide attacks by extremist muslims that claimed the lives of 52 people in London.
The chief imam of the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre officially took up the role on a visit to Richard House Children's Hospice at Beckton, where he toured the buildings and met some of the children.
Sheikh Abdul Qayum also visited residents and staff at St Joseph's Hospice at Hackney earlier in the day.
It was the first time an imam from the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre had visited the hospices, and the organisations hope to establish an ongoing relationship.
During the visit Sheikh Qayam said: "There's no word for hospice in Arabic and today I learnt a lot about what hospice care really means.
"The Islamic faith is about offering care and support to families - and that's the same ethos of the hospices I visited today.
"A hospice is about delivering care and support to the people and the families that really need it. Both hospices are happy environments that offer so much to all members of the diverse community we live in.
"And that's one of the many reasons why I am delighted to become a patron of Richard House and to work with St Joseph's.
"I will be taking that message back to the East London Mosque and will be delivering a 'khutbah' [Islamic sermon] to make local Muslims more aware about palliative care and the wonderful services both Richard House and St Joseph's offer."
Peter Ellis, pictured right above, the Richard House chief executive, said: "It is a real honour that the imam has agreed to become a patron of Richard House.
"We are proud of our culturally-diverse neighbourhood. A significant proportion of our children come from Islamic backgrounds and we welcome this new link and hope that it will lead to many more exciting ventures in the future."
Michael Kerin, chief executive of St Joseph's, said: "St Joseph's has served all communities in the diverse East End for over 100 years. In recent years, our work to reach out to communities coming to live in the area has attracted awards and national interest.
"We hope this link with the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre will build on this work and ensure that all parts of the community are aware of and feel comfortable about using our services - and that people will be encouraged to support us through volunteering and in other ways, so that we can help even more people in the future."
Richard House provides care and support for life-limited children and children with complex healthcare conditions and their families. For more information visit www.richardhouse.org.uk.
St Joseph's provides a full range of community and inpatient services to the people of Hackney, City of London, Newham and Tower Hamlets, as well as inpatient care for people in Camden, Enfield, Harringey, Islington, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. Find out more at www.stjh.org.uk.
The East London Mosque works actively to promote tolerance and understanding and is a member of the Tower Hamlets Council of Mosques. It aims to provide a range of holistic, culturally sensitive services for the communities of London, with a view to improving quality of life and enhancing community cohesion. Further details are available at www.eastlondonmosque.org.uk.