The 2011 census reported that 25% of the population of England and Wales identify as non-religious in response to the question ‘What is your religion?’, while the 2017 British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA), which asks ‘Do you have a religion, and if so, what is it?’ reports a much higher proportion of non-religious people in Britain, at around half the overall population. This number rises even more dramatically for young people, with roughly two in three of 18-24 year-olds saying they have no religion.
Whatever the total figure, the non-religious in Britain today clearly make up a large (and rapidly growing) segment of the UK population. Humanist Care exists to provide non-religious pastoral care to this demographic – the same sort of care as is provided to religious people by chaplains.
Prisons, hospitals and other organisations recognise the importance of holistic care, including meeting peoples’ pastoral and ‘spiritual’ needs. This provision should be appropriate to that person’s religion or belief, given that good pastoral support often depends on establishing a relationship with a like-minded person.
Non-religious patients, service people, offenders, and students experience the same complex emotions as those of a religious persuasion. They will generally not, however, identify these issues as ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’. Access to non-religious pastoral support nevertheless remains crucial aspect to their well-being. That’s why Humanist Care exists.