HAVENS Hospices is considering dropping its Christian connection in order to listen “to voices from all walks of life”.

Havens Hospices, which includes Fair Havens Hospice, Little Havens Hospice and The J’s Hospice, was founded by a group of Christians who wanted to provide better care for people with terminal illnesses.

Staff and volunteers do not have to be Christian, and the hospices care for patients of all faiths, or those of no particular religion.

However, it has always been a requirement in the constitution that the trustees “shall be Christian” and that members “should appreciate and support the Christian faith”.

The charity is considering scrapping the requirement, and changing its legal name to Havens Hospices rather than Havens Christian Hospices.

A “set of values” would be introduced instead.

Christine Clapham, 73, of Southchurch, said: “This is a very sad proposal.

“I remember the two Christians who founded what became the hospice. They were members of my parents’ church.

“The hospice has always followed the good principals of the Christian faith but at the same time treat their patients and staff completely indiscriminately.

“I hope they will reconsider this plan.”

Fuhad Furaq, of Southend, said: “They do good work. The name would not really put people off.

“Don’t change for the sake of changing. Keep strong to core values and show unity through diversity.”

Acting chief executive Trevor Johnson said: “With new Fair Havens on the horizon, and changes in the way we deliver our hospice care, the entire organisation is going through a period of change to help meet the current and future needs of our patients.

“The time has come for us to question whether the requirement for trustees to declare themselves as Christian is a true reflection of the kind of charity we want to be.

“We have started discussions with staff members to explore the issues that this raises.

“We need voices from all walks of life to ensure that we are hearing and seeing the fullest picture before we make a decision that will impact the future of this organisation.”

The ultimate decision will be made by the members of Havens Hospices – the equivalent to shareholders in a business.