What it’s like working at Sheffield Children’s whilst observing Ramadan

Sahir and Isabel eye test
04 June 2019

Sahir, Senior Orthoptist at Sheffield Children’s, explained what Ramadan is like for her.

“I observed Ramadan for 29 days – during which my routine is flipped on its head! Colleagues here were great at bearing with me in the first few days when my routine changed, but once I’ve got the routine down it’s just normal.

Adjusting to this routine for 29, 30 days maximum, can seem hard but it’s really worth it, and it’s a very good opportunity to be taught discipline, reflection and appreciate what we have.

Sahir Ali

My daily routine consisted of:

  •  Wake up at 7am
  • Go to work!
  • Each day is slightly different, some days I have clinic and see a lot of patients, another day I might be out screening in school, or it may be admin-focused. I’ve also been able to take annual leave during this time, so my working week is shorter than usual.
  • Come home and have a quick nap from about 6pm to 7.30pm
  • Start preparing food to eat after sunset which can be as late as 9.30pm – this is called Iftar (break of a fast)
  • After Iftar I visit the local mosque from 10:30pm to about midnight – this adds to the real community feel I experience during Ramadan. In our Mosque the Quran is read in full throughout the 29 days.
  • Then, I go back home and it’s time for more food (and tidying up!)
  • At 3am I get to bed, full of food and water, ready for the next day of fasting, working and reflecting

The Trust has been very understanding of my needs while observing Ramadan, which is fantastic. Observing Ramadan (and sometimes being tired) doesn’t affect my clinical judgement in the slightest (I do get sleep, just disrupted sleep!), and I have the support of my manager and my team.

Working while observing Ramadan is interesting – I find that a lot of people keep apologising for eating or drinking around me – but I keep telling them I don’t mind at all! All of my colleagues have been lovely. If they bake or bring food in for the staff room they wrap it up for me so I can take it home to eat later in the evening. It’s also been a good opportunity for us to discuss what Ramadan means to me and the wider community, and for anyone to ask questions and get a better understanding about it.

The prayer room at Sheffield Children’s is also a great facility. I find myself there at lunchtime and it’s a really welcoming space that I can make the most of on my breaks.

Sheffield Children’s is a great place to work which is supportive of both staff and patient families who may also be observing Ramadan. We’re mindful that they may request afternoon appointments and that parents might be a bit cranky after not eating or drinking and they’re waiting for something – we all understand it’s an important part of working towards a celebration.

Overall, Ramadan is a great experience both at home and at work and I’m really glad to share my experience with everyone. Eid Mubarak!”


Adam Ramzan, admin apprentice at our Northern General Outpatients, talks about his experience.Adam Ramzan outside childrens outpatients department

Adam supports with the electronic patient information systems. The team is working on moving to a paperless information system which means the team is very busy. Nonetheless, Adam says: “I don’t struggle to keep up with the fast – it’s a special time for Muslims that should bring positivity and a feeling of being closer to their religion.

“While I’ve been fasting my manager has been checking up on me. I’ve saved some annual leave for if I need to take time off too.”

“I get less sleep than usual but I don’t really feel tired, I just get through it. Sometimes I’m just tired when I get home to rest. That’s when I have another hour of sleep if I need it.” When Ramadan celebrations are over and it’s back to a normal routine, Adam says: “I do struggle to sleep for a few weeks, it takes a while to get back into a sleeping pattern.”

“I’m sad when Ramadan is over. It’s time to think and it’s about being good and trying to improve.

“We say that it’s fasting with the heart. Fasting should change your behaviour and it should be a positive experience. You’re supposed to gain something from it and to think good things about people. It’s a time when we try to give charitable donations and support our communities.Ramadan donations to the childrens hospital

When Ramadan is over we think about ways we can improve.”

Eid donations

Gift giving is also a large part of Ramadan. Muslims will give to family members and those who are in need.

On Monday, children from the Sheffield Islamic Centre Madina Masjid Trust and the Families Relief charity chose to donate gifts to the hospital. Boxes full of gifts were gladly received by our Play Team. Thank you to everyone involved in this kind donation.


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