Does it matter whether records show that you’re Hindu, Jain, Muslim or other?

Some members of our community have complained that we cannot obtain grants to help members of the Jain community because the bodies that offer the grants are not convinced that there are many of us in the UK.

When we request for Jainism to be taught on the Religious Education curriculum we are told that it’s not necessary as there are very few of us.

When we ask for a Jain chaplain in hospitals, it seems that we are asking a lot for a minuscule number of the population.

Why do various organisations think there aren’t many Jains in the UK?

If you are Jain do you do the following?

When you fill out a job application form and you are asked to describe your religion do you tick ‘other’ and write Jain there?
When you fill out a form because you are a patient at a hospital and you are asked to describe your religion do you tick ‘other’ and write Jain there?
When you fill join a GP or dental surgery do you tick ‘other’ and write Jain there?
If you complete a benefit form do you describe your religion do you tick ‘other’ and write Jain there?

There are so many opportunities to highlight Jainism. This will help us gather statistics, obtain grants and raise awareness about our needs.

Here’s what I did. I went to the website that allows patients to leave an opinion and I wrote a few words asking why Jainism isn’t listed as a faith. Have a look at what I wrote. Could you do something similar?

I also went to typed in my postcode and clicked on write to all MP’s/Counsellors. I sent one message to all of them asking the same question. Here’s one of the replies that I received.

Dear Heena,

….My office has spoken to the Department of Health regarding your query about Jainism’s inclusion on their list of faith options.  We were informed that due to practical reasons, the list that the Department of Health uses includes only the most common religions in the United Kingdom based on statistical data.  They have informed me that there is a space in which patients can write in their religion if it is not included on the list.  If you are not satisfied with this answer could I suggest that you write to the Secretary of State for Health who is the Rt Hon. Alan Johnson MP. He can be contacted at: Department of Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS.


Conservative MEP for London

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John Webster · November 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Dear Ms Modi,

Thank you for your e-mail of 16 October to the Department of Health about car parking charges and faith options.

I am sorry to read of your concerns about hospital car parking charges. It may be helpful if I explain that NHS organisations that provide car parking on their premises incur costs in relation to maintenance, security and staffing. If no charges were made, then these unavoidable costs would have to be found from funds otherwise available for patient care. Ministers have taken the view in England that patient care, rather than subsidising car parks, should take priority when it comes to NHS resources.

Ministers believe it is best left to individual NHS organisations to decide whether to introduce parking charges and, if they do, at what level the charge should be set. The pressure on a hospital car park will be very different in an inner city location from a rural or out-of-town setting. Any profits made may only be spent on patient care.

The Department of Health has issued guidance to the NHS advising a range of factors to consider when establishing or reviewing car parking schemes on their premises. This was revised and reissued in December 2006 as Income generation: car parking charges – best practice for implementation. It strongly recommends that NHS bodies offer free or reduced price car parking to those patients and visitors who have to use their car parks on a regular and long-term basis.

In light of the above, you may wish to raise your concerns with your Primary Care Trust (PCT). The address is as follows.
Hillingdon PCT
Kirk House
97-109 High Street
West Drayton

Regarding faith options, the Department of Health recognises that we live in a multi-cultural, multi-faith society and is committed to the principle of ensuring that patients and staff in the NHS have access to the spiritual care they want, whatever faith or belief system they follow.

The Department’s policy is set out in the guidance NHS Chaplaincy: Meeting the Religious and Spiritual Needs of Patients and Staff, which includes advice to NHS Trusts on worship and sacred spaces. This guidance allows Trusts to deliver religious and spiritual care in a way that best meets the diverse needs of their patients.

The modern NHS must be responsive to the religious needs of its patients. This is integral to its commitment to shaping NHS services to meet the needs and preferences of individual patients, their families and carers, as set out in the NHS Plan.

I hope this response addresses your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

John Webster
Customer Service Centre
Department of Health

Heena Modi · November 18, 2008 at 7:45 pm

Dear John,

Thanks for your reply. I’m not sure that we’re aligned with each other’s viewpoints though.

This is what I said: –

“Staff who are passing by would ask if you were OK if you looked lost, for example.They were polite and helpful :)”

“The ramps as you enter the hospital do not have any visible markings on them. If you do not realise they are there, you will when you drive over them! Painful, even if you drive slowly, especially with a fragile back like mine.

The car park is quite confusing to manoeuvre around too. The arrows are not visible so you can end up in a bit of a jam.

Perhaps the sign for where pedestrians should walk should be bigger too?

Last of all, most people think that hospitals have a large income from parking fees. Surely it would be reasonable to have a machine that gives change OR have a machine from which we can receive change, (for the parking fee)? It seems quite unfair that it eats up the money put in and we just have to accept it! Also is this spelt out in any letters stating when we are due to come in to the hospital?”

Thanks you for your explanation costs incurred. However, I am not debating the amount. Nor am I saying they should be free. Thus I do not understand why you have gone into such detail about the costs, how they are met and what would happen if they were not met.

Although I am glad that profits are spent on patient care, I had not queried this or even thought about it. When I mentioned that people assume that hospitals make a lot of money from fees, I was not querying this or asking where the money was spent. I was asking if it was then fair to deprive the visitor/patient of change.

Have you in any way responded to my comments about the car park is quite confusing to manoeuvre around, the markings not being visible enough, the insufficient quantity and size of signs re where pedestrians should walk or the fact that the machine positioned at the exit of the car park does not offer change. I also asked if this was mentioned in any letters stating when we are due to come in to the hospital.

I would be grateful for a reply to the above points.

Re faith options. Thank you for clarifying that there is a commitment to patients accessing appropriate spiritual care & explaining where I can find out more about how it is delivered. However, this does not answer the point I raised.

What I said was: –

I am happy to give information about my religion. However, I am concerned about the fact that there are so many faiths listed yet Jainism is missing!

There are many Jains in Harrow, Leicester and other places too. Why are we not recognised?

I look forward to your reply

Heena 🙂

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