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Caring through Ramadan

This year, Ramadan falls in March. How does caring differ during Ramadan? Many unpaid carers have a strong faith. For those who are Muslim, Ramadan is an especially important time, celebrating with the person we care for, friends, family, and the wider community.

Tony Collins-Moore, Carers Academy Manager at Carers Centre Tower Hamlets, has been talking with carers from the local Muslim community, to share their thoughts and experiences.

Along with some insights from carers in the Mobilise Hub.

Illustration of two friends hanging out.

What is Ramadan?

“Ramadan lasts for one month. Over this month, 1.8 billion Muslims across the world fast by not eating or drinking from dawn break to sunset. It reminds us of the pain and suffering of many millions of people on our planet, who are living in conditions with no access to food, water and shelter."
"It's a time for us to be grateful for every little thing we have. A time to be more spiritual, to be kind, to help in local communities, to give to charity and spend time with our friends and families.” Farhina Islam, Unpaid carer in the Mobilise community.

How does Ramadan fit around a caring role?

Carers from the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets shared that Ramadan and caring works well for them.

“As a carer we must be organised and plan our days, so including fasting for Ramadan is a welcome addition. I make sure we get up to eat before dawn, which is called Suhoor. I then get food ready before sunset to break our fast.”
“Eating can become healthier as people enjoy watermelon and dates to break their fast.”
“Don’t forget to avoid too much fried food and make sure you have a peaceful and caring Ramadan.” - Unpaid carer in Tower Hamlets

How does Ramadan affect caring?

The month and season in which Ramadan falls on can affect the fast and therefore caring.

“It depends on when Ramadan takes place. When it falls in the winter, the days are shorter, so you fast for less time. In the summer, the days and fasting are longer, so it’s important to be careful. It can be a long day, especially caring for another, so energy levels can fluctuate.”

Sometimes, it can be a struggle when the person we care for doesn't accept that they are exempt from fasting - particularly if they're sick and rely on medication.

"It's a good idea for us as carers to be able to communicate to them that they are exempt."

Because of this, one carer also shared:

“My advice is to get all the important stuff done in the morning, just in case it gets hot, and you need to rest.” - Unpaid carer in Tower Hamlets

To help those of us who are fasting to manage our energy levels throughout the day, Imams Online have a helpful guide that explains which foods store and slow-release energy. And foods that won’t fuel us up for the day ahead!

Illustration of two friends meeting up.

How can Ramadan bring us and those we care for closer?

The spirit of Ramadan is all about bringing people together, and helping others where we can. Appreciating what we have and thinking about those around the world who have less than us.

Ramadan also gives us the opportunity to break our fast together at each other's houses therefore reducing isolation. With lots of events tending to take place during Ramadan, it's a great way to get to know more people within our community.

"The mosque also invite people in, which is helpful for those who are struggling. This is open to all people not just Muslims so it can be worth asking" - Parent carer from the Mobilise community
“Ramadan means that family and friends will be able to get together for Iftar (breaking fast). This is where we traditionally break our fast at the time of the evening call to prayer. Both breaking fast and attending prayers is a joyous family and friend tradition. Ramadan is about caring and supporting people, who may be more vulnerable, so it is definitely a time to bring people together.” - Unpaid carer in Tower Hamlets

How does Ramadan change the day-to-day of your caring role?

Carers also mentioned they didn’t feel that Ramadan overly changed their day. Despite there being a need to be more organised with meals (i.e. making sure both them and the person they care for are up early to eat Suhoor before dawn) this was warmly received by many Muslim carers.

“Many people celebrating Ramadan, think that fasting adds structure to the day, which is a godsend for a carer.” - Unpaid carer in Tower Hamlets

How can we support someone who is caring through Ramadan?

There are also helpful ways we support a friend, neighbour or someone we know who is fasting and caring during Ramadan:

  • Be understanding, rather than sympathetic. As an act of commitment to their faith, fasting is often a choice for most Muslim carers.

  • We can ask them if they need any help. This can be offering help small things like picking up groceries or personal care products if we're passing a supermarket.

  • Would they like help with preparing Iftar? We can ask if they would like any help in preparing Iftar (dinner where Muslims break their fast) or perhaps we can surprise them with some treats!

  • Reassure them that we are here for support or a chat. Making sure carers feel connected is just as important during Ramadan.

Carers in the Muslim community shared that they felt there was no difference during the year including Ramadan as a carer.

“You support your loved one any time of the year and the rewards benefit you religiously as well as enabling better wellbeing for carers.” - Unpaid carer in Tower Hamlets

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