Second humanist pastoral carer appointed to hospital post

29 September, 2017

Paul Noble: newly appointed humanist pastoral carer at Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

Paul Noble has been appointed as a paid humanist pastoral carer at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. This is the second paid appointment in a hospital attained by a member of the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network (NRPSN) – Humanists UK’s network of accredited non-religious volunteers who provide pastoral support in hospitals, prisons and the armed forces. The first is held by Jane Flint, at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, who was initially appointed on a temporary basis but whose contract has also just become permanent. Humanists UK congratulates Mr Noble on his new role and hopes that this appointment marks a critical moment in our work to address a major gap within the pastoral care of non-religious patients across the NHS.

Mr Noble is one of ten members of staff in the ‘Chaplaincy Department’ of University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, who provide spiritual and emotional care and support to the hospital’s 1,500 patients and nearly 10,000 staff.  He works across all clinical areas with emphasis on humanist and other non-religious patients and staff. Data from the 2011 census shows that 33 percent of residents in Southampton describe themselves as non-religious. He will also be available for any weddings and funerals that his Department undertakes. He is accredited by Humanists UK as both a Non-Religious Pastoral Carer and as a Wedding Celebrant, and will shortly be training as a Funeral Celebrant. He had previously worked in senior roles in public relations and communications.  

Humanists UK’s Head of Pastoral Support Simon O’Donoghue commented, ‘We are delighted for Paul Noble and wish him the best of success in his new role. The NRPSN over the past two years has grown from strength to strength and these appointments marks key milestone for the pastoral care for non-religious patients and staff in NHS hospitals. It is our aim as an organisation to ensure that soon non-religious people facing difficult life situations, whether they be in hospitals, hospices, prisons, or the armed forces, will be able to access high quality, likeminded pastoral support from trained and accredited providers, just as religious people can. It is a matter of equality. With the majority of the population in the UK now not identifying with any religion, the problem of the lack of non-religious pastoral support providers cannot continue to be ignored.’


For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at  or 020 7324 3072.

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At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and campaigning work, we’re committed to creating a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: