Revamped faith facilities at Royal Bolton Hospital are already transforming the wellbeing of staff, patients and their families, less than six months since they opened.
The mosque, temple, and community room were officially opened by the Mayor of Bolton in March 2023, after thousands of pounds were generously donated to Our Bolton NHS Charity by communities across Bolton.
Since then, hundreds of worshippers have been able to make use of the new spiritual spaces for prayer and religious events, whilst the community hub has been used for staff meetings and network events.
Faruk Ali, Muslim Chaplain at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:
The new facilities are making a tremendous difference to the wellbeing of staff and patients. The previous facility was a very small room, where on a Friday during prayers we struggled to accommodate everyone.
Facilities include a newly refurbished bright and spacious mosque that can welcome up to 100 worshippers, with prayer mats incorporated into the design of the mosque carpet.
“Staff already feel more valued, but also more comfortable because it’s a bigger space”, Faruk added.
This space also helps staff provide better to care to patients, as when they return to the wards they feel their spirit has been lifted by coming to the prayer room.
“Everyone is thrilled with the space, and we couldn’t have created it without the contributions of the Muslim community.
The investment incorporates spaces for staff to take time away from the busy hospital environment to reflect.
Tahira Hussain, Trainee Chaplain at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, added:
It’s not just for prayers, it’s about being able to take that time out to reflect and rejuvenate which gives you the opportunity to get back to work feeling refreshed.
We live in a fast-paced world where it’s very busy. The things that you can see through the day, what you experience, it can take its toll so I think having this space gives people a chance to take some time out.
“Visiting for the first time, I actually felt special. The fact that someone had made the effort to provide a facility for me to reflect, to prayer, to connect, it really makes a massive difference.
The temple has been decorated in bright colours to reflect the vibrancy of the Hindu faith, and with food involved in a lot of the festivals the new space is located next to the community room with kitchen facilities.
Kamlesh Bhatt, Hindu Chaplain at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:
I have worked here since 2004 and our previous temple was very small, so it’s made a big difference to people. The Hindu community is the third biggest population in the world, so we have a lot of Hindus coming in for prayer.
It was very difficult to be able to celebrate properly without the proper facilities, so now that we have the big community room I can invite people to come and celebrate big festivals here.
“We have noticed more families and more staff coming in every day, at lunchtime, evening time, night time, any time they come in. All the Hindu community are coming here to celebrate, it’s great to have the NHS support.
The facilities have been created for communities across Bolton to use and to bring people closer together.
Reverend Nev Markham, Head Chaplain at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:
The new facilities have been transformational as the previous rooms were no longer serving the needs of the hospital staff and patients.
“We have had staff feedback here which said by the quality of the prayer facilities, that tells us how the Trust cares for us. So if they are really good that means as staff, we mean something to them.
“People love spaces where they can step away from the medical areas and just gather their thoughts, have a few moments, and just be able to step away from the rush of daily life.
One of the main messages we get back from staff is that it only has to be a few minutes to step into a different environment that can make such a difference to the rest of your working day.
“When something like this happens it transforms the mood in staff, patients and their families as they as a community see the hospital is invested in these things, it ripples that positivity into the community.
The newly located Mosque, Temple and Community Hub can be found behind the main hospital next to the Sports and Social Club.