by Sally Guyoncourt
The first humanist hospital chaplain in Britain will begin work today, offering emotional support to terminally ill atheist patients and their relatives.
Jane Flint has been appointed the non-religious pastoral carer for Leicester’s Hospital Chaplaincy, an NHS Trust comprising Leicester General Hospital, Leicester Royal Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital.
Unlike her colleagues in the chaplaincy who can console sick patients with reassurances about the afterlife, Ms Flint – like other humanists – believes there is no continuation after death.
But she believes her message of empathy and compassion will provide great succour to patients with no religious faith. “I will be there for them,” she told The Independent. “It won’t be about me. I will be there to give them undivided attention, a listening ear so they can say what they want.”
The 63-year-old trained psychotherapist said she expected there would be some questioning of her role in the chaplaincy from both hospital staff and patients. But she added: “I don’t have any anxiety about it.”
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