Alice Roberts and Humanists UK shortlisted for 2019 charity awards

1 August, 2019

Humanists UK has been shortlisted in two categories in this year’s Third Sector Awards, it was announced today.

Humanists UK President Professor Alice Roberts

Humanists UK President Professor Alice Roberts has been nominated to win the prestigious ‘Charity Champion of the Year’ award in recognition of her work to raise the profile of humanism and Humanists UK’s work for a fairer, more rational society.

The progress made by Humanists UK’s Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network earned the charity a second shortlisting in the category of ‘Breakthrough of the year’. This comes in recognition of the significant inroads made towards non-religious pastoral support becoming widely available in hospitals and prisons.

Both humanist pastoral carer Lindsay van Dijk and Humanists UK’s Director of Humanist Care, Simon O’Donoghue, made headlines in the past year with major firsts in pastoral support. Lindsay became the first humanist to head up an NHS chaplaincy or pastoral care department, while Simon became the first humanist to be elected chair of the sector-wide Network for Pastoral, Spiritual, and Religious Care in Health. Other members of the network include the Church of England, Catholic Bishop’s Welfare Advisory Group, National Hindu Council of Temples, Vanik Council UK, Free Churches, and UK Sikh Healthcare Chaplaincy Group.

Humanists UK Director of Humanist Care, Simon O’Donoghue

In 2019, Humanists UK’s network of pastoral carers now stands at 230 trained and accredited personnel who between them now operate in 20% of prisons and over 40% of hospitals. Humanists UK has also co-developed a Master of Arts degree in humanist pastoral care whose graduates are finding success entering into pastoral care as paid professionals. Ten humanists are now employed in this way across hospitals, prisons, and the education sector.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented,

‘We are delighted to be nominated for these two awards. 

‘Hundreds of people volunteer their time as humanist pastoral carers, providing a listening ear to non-religious people in need. This is a service that simply didn’t exist before we provided it. Our pastoral carers are a great example of humanists making a positive contribution to society and it’s gratifying to see their impact acknowledged.

‘We have also been delighted with Alice Roberts’ tenure as President. Her hard work has helped us appeal to more members and supporters than we’ve ever had, found a global audience for our online course on humanism, and has brought political and media attention to some of our most urgent campaigns. We’re thrilled to see her hard work recognised through this nomination.’


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Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

Training with NRPSN is free for members of Humanists UK and Humanist Society Scotland. For more information on training, visit the NRPSN website.

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 community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

The Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network is a network of people who provide non-religious pastoral support across a range of institutional and community settings. We aim to grow our network of accredited non-religious pastoral support providers and foster it as a mutually supportive, professionalised community of practice. We encourage and support our volunteers, whilst engaging with relevant bodies to ensure the equal provision of care for the non-religious throughout the UK.