Supporting young people
Stepping Stones was launched in 2010 by the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys to help support young people in their communities. Over the past five years, grants totalling more than £1.3 million have been awarded to 63 local and national charities, with the most recent round of grants totalling over £250,000. The Daisy Chain Project Teesside received £30,000 to fund its education and employability programme for young people with autism. The farm-based charity provides services including respite care, animal and sensory therapy, after-school clubs, family outings and support groups.
A history of giving
We trace the origins of the four masonic charities that have come together to form the new Masonic Charitable Foundation
The four masonic charities have been integral to the Craft, providing crucial support to Freemasons, their families and the wider community. However, the existence of four separate organisations – each with its own distinct processes for providing support – hindered the development of a truly joined-up and consistent approach. After much consideration it has therefore been decided to launch a major new charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). From 1 April 2016, the Foundation will take over the work of the central masonic charities, providing a wide range of grants to Freemasons and their families who have a financial, health or care need. The Foundation will also award grants to other charities, medical research studies and disaster relief appeals.
The Foundation will ensure that the masonic charitable support network, which has provided assistance for centuries, remains fit for purpose and able to adapt to the needs of new generations. As we look to the future, it is worth remembering how the current four charities have evolved and how, under the banner of the MCF, cradle-to-grave support will remain in place for Freemasons and their dependants.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
Soon after the Grand Master’s installation in 1967, he commissioned a review of the masonic charities. It recommended that a new central charity be established to contribute to society as a whole, befitting the importance and scale of English Freemasonry. In 1980, the Grand Charity was established. It also assumed responsibility for UGLE’s Board of Benevolence, whose origins were found in the first Committee of Charity of Grand Lodge, formed in 1725.
With grants totalling more than £120 million, the Grand Charity has improved the lives of thousands of masons and their dependants, and has made extensive contributions to wider society, funding the causes that are important to members of the Craft. It has enabled Provinces to demonstrate their commitment to local communities through matched giving schemes, grants to The Scout Association and millions in hospice and Air Ambulance giving. Its multimillion-pound research funding has aided numerous medical breakthroughs.
The Grand Charity has brought far-reaching benefits to masonic fundraising by establishing the Relief Chest Scheme to promote efficient and tax-effective giving. The Craft has saved thousands of pounds in administration costs and donations have been significantly increased through Gift Aid. The scheme has also enabled members to come together following worldwide disasters, funding recovery projects in devastated areas on behalf of Freemasonry as a whole. Indeed, £1 million was raised following the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Through the Grand Charity’s giving, thousands have felt the positive impact of masonic charity and over the past 35 years in particular, Freemasonry has increasingly been seen publicly as a philanthropic leader, supporting many great causes.
Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
From its origins as a school for girls, the RMTGB has worked for over 227 years to relieve poverty and advance the education of thousands of children from masonic families across the UK, as well as tens of thousands of children from wider society. The Trust has spent over £130 million on charitable support over the past 15 years alone.
In 1788, Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini established the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, supporting 15 daughters of distressed or deceased Freemasons. A provision for boys was introduced soon after, and over the next 200 years the institutions’ schools expanded and relocated. Eventually, the boys’ school closed, the girls’ school became independent, and the trustees focused on supporting children at schools near their own homes.
In 1982, the boys’ and girls’ institutions came together to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, later the RMTGB.
Over time, the Trust moved from fixed financial grants to packages of support tailored to each family’s circumstances. Innovative schemes were also introduced for youngsters with specific talents and needs.
The Trust’s support also extends beyond the masonic community. In 1988, £100,000 was awarded to Great Ormond Street Hospital, with major grants given ever since. Since the launch of the Stepping Stones non-masonic grant-making scheme in 2010, almost £1 million has been awarded to charities that aim to reduce the impact of poverty on education. The Trust also provides premises and support services for Lifelites, which equips children’s hospices across the British Isles with fun, assistive technology. Established as the Trust’s Millennium Project, Lifelites became an independent charity in 2006.
Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
The RMBI cares for older Freemasons and their families, as well as people in the community. The history of the charity dates back to 1842 when UGLE inaugurated the Royal Masonic Benevolent Annuity Fund for men, followed by the Female Annuity Fund in 1849. The first home was opened the following year and the RMBI was officially established. In the early 1960s, provision was extended to non-annuitants and between 1960 and 1986, a further 13 homes were set up. The RMBI now provides a home for more than 1,000 people across England and Wales, while supporting many more.
At the heart of the RMBI is the commitment to deliver services that uphold an individual’s dignity. Its Experiential Learning training programme requires all new carers to complete a series of practical scenarios in order to better understand residents and has even received national news coverage for its unique approach. The RMBI is also recognised for its excellence in specialist dementia care services, which are increasingly in demand. Nine RMBI homes have been awarded Butterfly Service status, a national quality-of-life ‘kitemark’, by Dementia Care Matters.
None of this could be achieved without a dedicated team, and an RMBI staff member recently received the Care Trainer Award at the 2015 Great British Care Awards in recognition of such commitment. The support and time given by each home’s Association of Friends is also a unique part of the RMBI. The associations – volunteer groups of local masons that work to complement resident services – are independently registered charities and their efforts over the years have ranged from fundraising for home minibuses and resident day trips, to sensory gardens and home entertainment.
Masonic Samaritan Fund
The Royal Masonic Hospital and its predecessor, the Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home, had a Samaritan Fund to support masons and their families who could not afford the cost of private medical treatment. In 1990 the MSF was established to take on the role of this fund, and in its early years benefited from many very generous donations, including a grant from the Grand Charity, and the highly successful Cornwallis and London Festival appeals.
Thanks to the support of Freemasons and their families, the MSF has been able to expand the assistance it provides to cater for the evolving health and care needs of its beneficiaries. In addition to funding medical treatment or surgery, grants are available to support respite breaks for carers, to restore dental function, to aid mobility and to provide access to trained counsellors.
Since 2010 the MSF has provided grants to major medical research projects. Notable successes have included enhancing the diagnosis of prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as support for those suffering from macular degeneration.
Each year the MSF helps more masonic families fund the health and care support they need to live healthy and independent lives. Since 1990 more than 12,000 Freemasons and their family members have been helped at a total cost of over £67 million.
Funded entirely through the generous donations of the masonic community, the Masonic Charitable Foundation will seek to continue the excellent work of the central masonic charities and be able to respond more effectively to the changing needs of masonic families and other charitable organisations. For more information, go to www.mcf.org.uk
Charting the history of the four masonic charities
1725 The premier Grand Lodge sets up the Committee of Charity
1788 The Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, named after the Duchess of Cumberland, is founded by Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini
1789 The first anniversary of the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School is celebrated with a church service and dinner. Collections are taken, making this the first fundraising ‘festival’ for a masonic charity
1798 Inspired by Ruspini’s achievements, William Burwood and the United Mariners Lodge establish a fund to support the sons of Freemasons
1814 Soon after the union of the Grand Lodges, the Committee of Charity joins with other committees relieving hardship among masons to become the Board of Benevolence
1850 The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) is established, and the first RMBI home opens in East Croydon
1904 ‘Out-relief’ is introduced so that those not admitted to the masonic schools can receive grants to support their education elsewhere
1914 It is decided that the daughters of serving Freemasons who die or are incapacitated during WWI should receive a grant of £25 per year
1920 The Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home opens
1933 The Royal Masonic Hospital opens at Ravenscourt Park
1934 The girls’ school moves to Rickmansworth Park. The school is officially opened by HM Queen Mary with 5,000 ladies and brethren in attendance
1966 Devonshire Court opens in Oadby, Leicestershire
1967 Scarbrough Court opens in Cramlington, Northumberland
1968 Prince George Duke of Kent Court opens in Chislehurst, Kent
1971 Connaught Court opens in Fulford, York
1973 The Bagnall Report recommends that the boys’ school is closed and that the girls’ school becomes independent
1973 Lord Harris Court opens in Sindlesham, Berkshire, and Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court opens in Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan
1977 Ecclesholme opens in Eccles, Manchester, and The Tithebarn opens in Great Crosby, Liverpool
1979 Queen Elizabeth Court opens in Llandudno, Conwy
1980 The Grand Charity is established
1980 James Terry Court opens in Croydon, Surrey
1981 Cornwallis Court opens in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
1982 The masonic institutions for girls and boys merge their activities to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
1983 Zetland Court opens in Bournemouth, Dorset
1984 Grand Charity hospice support begins
1986 The Grand Charity establishes the Relief Chest Scheme
1986 Cadogan Court opens in Exeter, South Devon
1990 The Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) is established, assisted by a £1.2 million grant from the Grand Charity
1992 275th anniversary of Grand Lodge
1992 The Grand Charity awards more than £2 million to charities that care for people with learning difficulties
1994 UGLE recommends that all masonic organisations adopt the Relief Chest Scheme
1994 Prince Michael of Kent Court opens in Watford, Hertfordshire
1994 The Cornwallis Appeal raises £3.2 million for the MSF
1995 Shannon Court opens in Hindhead, Surrey
1996 Barford Court opens in Hove, East Sussex
1997 Total annual expenditure for Masonic Relief Grants exceeds £2 million for the first time
1998 Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court opens in Braintree, Essex
1999 To commemorate the millennium, the Grand Charity donates more than £2 million to good causes
1999 Lifelites is established by the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys as a Millennium Project to provide assistive and educational technology packages for children’s hospices across the British Isles
1999 The London Festival Appeal for the MSF raises £10.6 million
2000 Following the abolition of Local Authority student grants, the Trust establishes an undergraduate aid scheme to support disadvantaged young people at university. Almost 500 students are assisted during the first year of the scheme, rising to almost 1,000 by 2003
2001 The TalentAid scheme is introduced by the Trust to support young people with an exceptional talent in music, sport or the arts, with 75 supported in the first year
2003 The Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys becomes the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB)
2004 The Grand Charity donates £1 million for research into testicular and prostate cancers
2005 More than £1 million is donated by Freemasons and the Grand Charity to help with recovery efforts following the Asian tsunami
2006 Lifelites becomes a registered charity
2007 Special funding for Air Ambulances begins
2008 All four central masonic charities move into shared office space in Freemasons’ Hall, London
2008 The Grand Charity donates £500,000 to The Scout Association, enabling more than 23,000 young people to join, and £1 million to Ovarian Cancer Action
2008 Scarbrough Court reopens in Cramlington, Northumberland (rebuilt on its original site)
2008 The MSF makes its first grant in support of medical research, and respite care grants are introduced
2010 Stepping Stones, the RMTGB’s non-masonic grant-making scheme, is introduced to support disadvantaged youngsters
2010 MSF dental care grants are introduced
2013 James Terry Court reopens in Croydon, Surrey (rebuilt on its original site)
2013 The MSF Counselling Careline service launches
2015 Following a 30-year partnership, the Grand Charity’s grants to the British Red Cross now exceed £2 million
2015 The MSF marks its 25th anniversary by awarding over £1 million for medical research
2016 The four masonic charities join together to form the Masonic Charitable Foundation
Letters to the Editor - No. Spring 2016
I was surprised and delighted to see a photo in the winter 2015 edition of Freemasonry Today of a group of nurses at the Royal Masonic Hospital taken in 1958. The group includes my wife on the right at the end of the patient’s bed. I can still name several of the other nurses.
At the time, I was an undergraduate at Cambridge and I frequently travelled to see her at the hospital nurses’ home at Ravenscourt Park. I am pleased to say that we are still happily married after 53 years.
Tony Kallend, Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Sheffield’s family focus
The RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme has awarded grants totalling more than £260,000 to 12 charities, including Home-Start Sheffield, a regional branch of a national network of family support charities. Home-Start’s 110 volunteers provide practical and emotional help to 800 vulnerable parents and children each year.
Families receive parenting advice and skills training to strengthen relationships and the care that they provide for their children, helping to break cycles of disadvantage. Stepping Stones awarded Home-Start Sheffield a grant of £24,873 over two years to part-fund the new ‘Parents and Children Together’ project, which will provide more intensive parental support for 90 disadvantaged families to increase their children’s school readiness.
It’s show time
An initiative to give disadvantaged young people the chance to fulfil their musical dreams and find employment is being supported through masonic funding, as Imogen Beecroft discovers
Over in one corner of a room two people are huddled together at a piano, perfecting a duet. Across the way, young men and women are memorising rap lyrics, strumming guitars and fiddling with DJ decks. Given the sheer array of musical ability, you would think you had stumbled into a professional West End rehearsal. In fact, these groups of young people are preparing for their final performance after just six weeks of training at the Roundhouse – a former railway engine shed in London’s Chalk Farm that is now a performing arts and concert venue, and a charitable trust.
As soon as the first group goes on stage, the friendly, laid-back atmosphere gives way to a vibrant energy as everyone rises to their feet. One of the people singing along most enthusiastically is Africa Krobo-Edusei. He was working in a restaurant when he heard about the Roundhouse’s OnTrack project, a programme for young people aged 16-25 to learn about the music industry.
‘I hated waking up in the morning and going to work,’ Africa remembers. ‘I quit my job because I knew this would be the thing for me. I have such a passion for music, so I took a risk and have no regrets. Now I’ve found a course that has inspired me, I wake up every day feeling happy.’
The intensive course covers all aspects of music production, from songwriting to event management, culminating in a live performance at the Roundhouse. OnTrack is one of the venue’s many programmes and events for young people not in full-time employment, education or training, some of whom have been homeless or in prison. The programmes are overseen by youth support worker (YSW) Angus Scott-Miller, whose role is part-funded by Stepping Stones, a non-masonic giving scheme operated by the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB). The scheme, which aims to reduce child poverty by helping disadvantaged children and young people to access education, awarded a grant of £20,000 to The Roundhouse Trust in 2011, followed by a further £20,000 in 2014.
Les Hutchinson, CEO of the RMTGB, says: ‘The Roundhouse Trust is one of a very small number of charities to have received a second grant from the scheme. The RMTGB decided to provide support on both these occasions due to the wide range of opportunities that the organisation offers for disadvantaged young people. Freemason’s Hall is also located within the same London Borough as the Roundhouse, so it was the perfect opportunity to support a charity on our doorstep.’
Angus coordinates the youth support team, visits schools and pupil referral units (for children who have been excluded from school), and provides pastoral support for 200 young people each year. Fran Pilcher, trusts and statutory manager at the Roundhouse, says: ‘The grant from the RMTGB has allowed Angus to continue to engage some of the most disadvantaged young people with creative opportunities.
‘Many of those who access our services are vulnerable and experiencing multiple difficulties. The YSW role helps to create a safe environment for any young person, many of whom have no other support networks to turn to. With the backing of the RMTGB, it has become an integral part of the Roundhouse.’
Angus, 30, has been a YSW for six years but has been involved with the Roundhouse since he was 16 years old, when he was a student on one of its programmes. ‘It was the first thing I did outside school,’ he says. ‘It was a big step for me and I fell in love with the arts thanks to the Roundhouse.’
A few years later, Angus was checking the Roundhouse website daily to see if there were any jobs available when he saw an advert for his current role. ‘At the time my mum was kicking me out and all I had were two job interviews,’ he says. ‘I got two offers but took the one at the Roundhouse because I just love it. It did a lot for me as a kid and I want to give something back.’
Playing to strengths
Angus’s background helps him in his role providing pastoral care for the young people in the programme, of which 60 per cent are classified as disadvantaged, and he speaks passionately about the difficulties facing young people in London. ‘It’s so easy to get lost in a big city and get mixed up with the wrong crowd.’
Oliver Carrington, who manages the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme, says Angus ‘does a fantastic job in building trust with the most disadvantaged young people that access the Roundhouse’s services. He helps participants overcome any potential barriers that they may face and is very effective in developing their strengths and nurturing their talents.’
Angus is modest about his work, but has dealt with issues as diverse as someone liking a girl at school through to abuse and suicide. ‘For a young person to trust you, you’ve got to build a relationship, and once you have that they will want to come to you for advice,’ he says, adding that he builds this trust by not putting on a persona. ‘I just listen, try to understand and help.’
Angus recalls one young person going through a particularly tough time. ‘He’d robbed a house and taken a lot of money. Some people found out, came to his house with guns and threatened his mum.’ Angus helped him get on a drama course at the Roundhouse. ‘After that he went to drama school. He now has his own place, a girlfriend and he’s acting professionally. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that helps young people like the Roundhouse. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but that’s what we do: we change lives.’
Africa believes the Roundhouse has turned his life around too. ‘There are people who show an interest in you and teach you how to apply your skills to the real world. They let you know that music isn’t just a hobby – it can be a career and you can excel if you put in the time.’ Africa has indeed excelled in his course, making strides in his musical ability as well as finding lifelong friends. ‘It feels like we’ve built a little family,’ he says.
Once the course is over, the young emerging artists can return to the Roundhouse for various events, or book out one of the venue’s studio spaces from £1 an hour to start making their own music. As Angus says, ‘It won’t be goodbye. This is just a welcome to the Roundhouse.’
Africa is certain he’ll be back and already has big plans for his musical future: ‘I’m going to start an artist development programme that takes on young artists like myself and works to help give them some direction. I always had a passion but this place is making that dream into more of a reality.’
The RMTGB Stepping Stones scheme aims to help young people by breaking the link between poverty and the lack of access to education
Through its Stepping Stones scheme, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys has recently awarded more than £87,000 to charities across England and Wales. Grants have been given to six organisations that are helping young people to overcome a variety of challenges in innovative ways:
Music First, which delivers volunteer-led music tuition and provides instruments to young people from low-income families.
The National Literacy Trust, to help fund a scheme that prepares young people for employment.
Place2Be, which offers mental health support in schools to help young people cope with issues that include bullying, bereavement, domestic violence, and anger and anxiety.
Teens and Toddlers (pictured above), through which teenagers act as mentors to nursery children for two hours each week – an experience that builds responsibility and teaches a range of skills.
West Kent YMCA, for a project that enables at-risk young people to gain vocational qualifications.
Stepping Stones is just one way in which the RMTGB assists children in need. Since 2010, it has provided some £800,000 to forty charities, in addition to its support for around 2,000 children and young people from masonic families each year.
Hands-on help in the garden
Every child loves to play outdoors, particularly during the summer. However, for seven-year-old William, who suffers from autism and asthma, this simple pleasure hasn’t always been possible
William also shows violent and destructive behaviour when he’s frustrated, and has no awareness of danger, often running away from his mother when he can.
To provide him with a safe outdoor space, a small team from the RMTGB recently participated in a scheme called Helping Hands, operated by the national charity WellChild. The team spent all day renovating William’s garden by installing new fencing and replacing the gravel with an artificial lawn.
Stepping stones to a new life
For the previous two years, WellChild has received grants from the RMTGB totalling £45,000 to support projects such as Helping Hands. Those participating were happy to have had the chance to become more closely involved with the project. A bake sale was also held at Freemasons’ Hall to raise the required funds.
Oliver Carrington, who manages the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme, said, ‘Being able to meet one of the families we’re helping was really rewarding. I hope that William enjoys playing in his new garden.’
Since the scheme was first launched, more than £700,000 has been awarded to around forty non-masonic charities by the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme, which has helped to improve the lives of thousands of children across England and Wales.
Child support network
Around one hundred Freemasons and family members from the Province of Bedfordshire attended the twenty-ninth Annual General Court and General Meeting of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys on Saturday, 14 June.
The meeting took place at the Luton Masonic Centre and was chaired by Michael Sawyer, PGM for Bedfordshire, whose 2015 Festival in support of the Trust concludes next year. Those present heard from the President, Chief Executive and members of council and staff about the activities and achievements of Freemasonry’s oldest charity.
During 2013, the Trust supported over 2,000 children and young people from masonic families with more than £8.4 million in funding. Nearly 15,000 further children benefited from the Trust’s non-masonic grant-making scheme, Stepping Stones, which awarded £100,000 to local and national charities, and supported Lifelites (a charity for children in hospices). Michael said he looked forward to the successful end of his Festival appeal in 2015.
Making an impact
The RMTGB has given a grant to Helping Hands, which coordinates local volunteers to improve the quality of life for sick children
As part of its Stepping Stones scheme, the RMTGB awarded a £30,000 grant to Helping Hands, a scheme established by the charity WellChild in 2006 to provide practical support to severely sick children and their families. The children supported by the scheme have a range of conditions such as learning difficulties, mobility problems or visual or hearing impairments.
Many family homes are unsuitable or unsafe for children with such conditions. Four-year-old Mustafa was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, a hole in his heart, an underdeveloped lung and epilepsy. He needs twenty-four-hour oxygen therapy to help him breathe and has serious learning disabilities. He is constantly seeking sensory stimulation, but his garden had many trip hazards and it wasn’t safe for him to play outside with his family.
WellChild’s Helping Hands scheme aims to give sick children like Mustafa the opportunity of a better childhood by coordinating teams of local volunteers to carry out small home improvement projects. Mustafa’s garden was transformed in just one day as volunteers from a local business installed a new artificial lawn, a large play mirror, colourful murals, and a specialist swing and support seat. These small improvements will have a dramatic and lasting impact on Mustafa’s childhood and daily life.
The Helping Hands scheme relies on donations and volunteers giving their time. To lend your support, go to www.wellchild.org.uk
Stepping stones for disadvantaged children
The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) has awarded grants amounting to £100,000 to seven charities that are working to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and young people across England and Wales.
The grants have been made from the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme and will be used to support a range of causes including tackling youth homelessness, helping children affected by domestic violence and assisting young people who are educationally disadvantaged.
A grant of more than £18,000 was awarded to MERU, a charity that designs and manufactures specialised equipment for children and young people with disabilities that are so complex that no available equipment meets their needs. MERU’s fundraiser, Becky Millington, said: ‘Without supporters like the RMTGB, we couldn’t continue helping these unique children.
We at MERU thank you. More importantly, the children thank you and that’s really who it is all about.’
For more details about the grants awarded by the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme, which are only made possible because of the donations made by Freemasons, please visit www.rmtgb.org/steppingstones
‘Without the RMTGB we couldn’t continue helping these children.’ Becky Millington
Annual review highlights RMTGB scope
Providing practical educational support for young people facing family trauma or bereavement
For the first time in recent years, the RMTGB is providing help to more than two thousand children and young people of masonic families. According to the trust’s annual review, tragic events such as the death of a parent, family breakdown or redundancy can have lifelong consequences on the education and well-being of children and young people.
The review explains how the RMTGB’s financial grants and practical welfare support are improving the lives of young people in the aftermath of these events by providing them with the opportunity to complete the education and training they need to succeed in life.
Marcus and Isabella (pictured) received financial grants when their father died at the tragically young age of thirty-seven. The RMTGB also helped to meet the cost of school trips and extra-curricular activities, and provided a computer to help with their homework. The non-masonic support of the RMTGB, which includes Stepping Stones and Lifelites, has improved the lives of a further ten thousand children and young people and is also outlined in the review.
Last year, more than £10 million was spent in order to provide this support, and the RMTGB relies on donations from Freemasons and their families to continue its life-changing work.
Visit www.rmtgb.org to find out more and to read the review online.
The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) has awarded grants amounting to £85,000 to four charities that are working to alleviate the effects of poverty and to improve educational outcomes for children and young people. The grants have been made from the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme and will be used to fund projects aimed at transforming the lives of hundreds of children and young people. Since the scheme was launched, the RMTGB has awarded grants totalling almost £500,000.