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Spotlight on Shahid Sardar

Each Newsletter we will be shining the light on someone connected with our organisation, and first up it’s Shahid Sardar, Associate Director for Patient Engagement at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.

  1. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS ROLE IN YOUR ORGANISATION?My name is Shahid Sardar, I am Associate Director for Patient Engagement and I help the hospital get better as a result of feedback from patients and the community.

    My job is really to be an agitator/ trouble maker. I love complaints because they help us hold up a mirror to our own efforts, where things could improve, they highlight the gaps between what we think we are giving our patients and what they tell us they are getting. I am here to tweak people’s sense of empathy and compassion and galvanise the collective energies of people across the organisation to improve what it feels like from the patient’s perspective

  2. WHAT FIRST ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ART BUTTERFLY VOLUNTEER SCHEME?It’s about improvement. Back in October 2016, working with Julie Rodgers, a Specialist Palliative Care Nurse at The Princess Alexandra Hospital, we facilitated a World Café, which was great fun (and a method I am happy to teach and support if you are interested) on end of life care. One of the questions which came to the fore as a result of the event was the need for more people to be with patients at the end of life, potentially a role for volunteers. As is the way with workshops, the facilitators were then tasked with going out to find a project which matched this request!

    That’s when Julie Rodgers and I met Liz Pryor, who was buzzing with energy to bring the project to life and did lots of things, presented to the Executive, wrote papers, asked the right questions, and made lots of effort to help us think about how we were going to bring the project to life at The Princess Alexandra. Liz and Jo and the dedicated core volunteers have been the life of the project and Julie was the driving force behind connecting the hospital and ART.

  3. WHAT IMPACT DO YOU FEEL ART MAKES?What I love most about the ART project is the fact that so many staff from non-clinical backgrounds have become volunteers. People who have worked here for 20-30 years in non-clinical roles, who have never had an opportunity to work alongside their clinical colleagues in a substantial way are now doing that, supporting our most vulnerable patients and their clinical colleagues. I believe that this alone makes the partnership valuable beyond words, you can see it in the faces of the nursing staff who talk about the project and the non-clinical staff in the energy they have brought to and used to engage with the Butterfly Project. We don’t even need to promote the role very much and people flock to training, that alone tells the story.
  1. WHY IS TALKING ABOUT DEATH & DYING IMPORTANT TO YOU?It’s important to me both personally and professionally. I was born and raised in a fantastic part of East London (there is one street J) where I had a group of close friends. It was during that time, growing up, that I experienced the death of one of those friends from cancer, something I don’t think I really understood at that point, (possibly not even now) it was always such a taboo, thankfully that has changed for the better.

    Professionally, I’ve always worked in health and social care as I wanted to give something back to the community where I grew up. I began my working life working for Mind, the mental health charity and death and dying were always important parts of the conversation in the mental health world, so when I began working for the NHS in East London, it really came to the fore as East London has some very specific traditions around death and dying.

    Death and dying are now and will increasingly become bigger public health issues, as we live longer we will all want to age well and ideally have a good death in a place of our choosing, surrounded by the support and comfort of caring people, we need to tackle that at a population level, with the right messages and at an individual level, which is why the ART Butterfly Project is so important, it makes it just a little easier to talk about a difficult subject.


  1. WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION IN LIFE AND WHY?My mum! She has always been a fantastic mediator and negotiator with people and of life, people always seem gravitate to her when they need advice or support and she always seems to know the right thing to say. She raised me and my three siblings in East London, during what were ‘interesting times’ and did it with a grace and courage I’m not sure I could ever summon.
  1. MARMITE – LOVE IT OR HATE IT?Love it. Obvs. Who hates marmite?
  1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK, TV SHOW OR MOVIE?I’ll have to go with favourite book, as I left university with a degree in English Literature. It’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou. Of all of the stories Maya Angelou tells, , what I loved most was how she writes about her big brother, Bailey, “small, graceful, and smooth, he had velvet-black skin.”
  1. BEST CHEESEY JOKE….My daughter Zara, when she was 3 told me this joke and she keeps on telling it like it’s new and laughing uncontrollably, which is why I love it. What did the Mummy bee say to the naughty baby bee? Beehive yourself!

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