Kick-off to tackle Middlesbrough youth unemployment
This year Street League, whose mission is to change lives through football, has been awarded £25,000 by the Grand Charity to deliver three football and employability programmes over one year in Middlesbrough. Street League’s vision is to reduce youth unemployment in the UK through its award-winning 10-week scheme.
The charity helps young unemployed people aged 16-25 to gain skills, confidence, work experience and qualifications, while supporting them to progress into employment, education or training.
Charity focuses on the financial impact of cancer
Breast cancer support charity The Haven has received £30,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The donation will help to maintain and expand its welfare, benefits and money advice service, which is currently available at the London Haven centre or via a telephone service.
This centralised financial assistance from the Grand Charity is in keeping with the support given to the Hereford Haven centre in the past by Freemasons on a local level. Speaking about the donation, Laura Chapman, Chief Executive of the Grand Charity, said:
‘When people think about cancer, they don’t think about the financial impact it can have. This service will help patients focus on what really matters without the worry of how they will manage their money. We are so glad to be able to support those experiencing breast cancer in such an incredibly practical way.’
Herefordshire PGM the Rev David Bowen and Deputy PGM Mike Roff represented Freemasons county-wide at Hereford Haven, where they met centre manager Frankie Devereux.
Riding to the Somme
Seven members of the Artificers Masonic Motorcycle Association and two of their partners undertook a sponsored ride to the Somme, where they laid a wreath at the Thiepval Memorial in memory of those who fell during World War I, and returned a bugle reportedly used in the Battle of Mons to sound the first retreat.
The team included Jim Humphreys, a Zambian mason from Lusaka – the eldest of the group at 72 years old; Ray and Jacquie Sparks of the newly formed Sussex Motorcycling Lodge, No. 9871, who owned the 100-year-old bugle; Gary Dark from Chantry Lodge, No. 6454, East Kent; Mike Hogsden of Hamelesham Lodge, No. 8243, Sussex; Colin Wallington of White Horse of Kent Lodge, No. 8784, West Kent; Chris Ray of Pro Deo et Patria Lodge, No. 4425, London; and Dave Weedon from Hanslip Ward Lodge, No. 3399, Essex, and his partner Jeannette.
Looking forward at Manchester Eye Hospital
Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Charity has received a major donation from the Province of East Lancashire, supplemented by a grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Totalling £125,000, the funds are for the Hospital’s Eye Bicentenary Charity Appeal to improve treatment, research and care at the Children’s Outpatient Clinic.
The donation will contribute to the purchase of a state-of-the-art DNA sequencer, which will help improve diagnosis for inherited eye diseases and provide a vital tool for researchers seeking to better understand the genetic basis of eye disease. The donation will also enable a Children’s Eye Clinic liaison officer to be appointed, to provide support to patients and their families.
With 2.9 million older people feeling they have no one to turn to for help and support, Aileen Scoular meets Dame Esther Rantzen DBE and Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh to find out how Freemasons are making a difference in West Lancashire
No one wants to feel alone. But for the 11 million people in the UK aged 65 and over, loneliness and isolation are all too familiar. A survey by Age UK has revealed that one in four older people feel that they have no one to go to for help and support.
Contact the Elderly, another UK charity that aims to lessen the effects of isolation, echoes these views: other than visits from a carer, around 70 per cent of the elderly people who use its service receive visits just once a week or less.
Yet loneliness and isolation can be avoided.
A chat on the phone, a cup of tea or a shared joke with a neighbour takes just minutes, but the positive effects of human interaction last long after the conversation ends. The reassuring news is that there are organisations out there making that happen, one of which is the Freemasons.
In West Lancashire, Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh has spent his first two years in the job making positive changes that will allow his lodge almoners and care officers to spend more time on active care and less time on paperwork. And Ernie has found an equally compassionate ally in Dame Esther Rantzen DBE – founder of ChildLine in 1986 and, more recently, The Silver Line, a telephone helpline for older people.
Invited by the Province of West Lancashire, Dame Esther visited Ecclesholme, a Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home in Manchester, at the end of last year to gain a better understanding of the needs of elderly RMBI residents. Both she and Ernie believe that effective pastoral care can transform people’s lives.
‘A core value among Freemasons has always been to help those less fortunate than yourself. We try to instil that in every single member,’ says Ernie. ‘The role of the almoner is a vital part of lodge life – not just to manage financial needs, but to deal with loneliness and isolation as well.’
Isolation is a topic that also comes up in conversation with Dame Esther, and The Silver Line, which launched at the end of 2013, includes a befriending service to help combat loneliness.
‘The idea came to me when I was standing at a conference about the elderly, discussing an article I’d written about living alone for the first time, aged 71,’ she explains. ‘I got the most extraordinary flashback to the same situation 30 years before, when I had been talking about another problem with a stigma attached – namely, child abuse. Because no one wants to admit to loneliness, do they? Many older people are very proud and they don’t want to be a burden.’
Just 18 months on, The Silver Line is taking up to 1,000 calls a day. The befriending service has a waiting list of 1,000 people, and the charity is training its volunteers (known as Silver Line Friends) at a rate of 100 a week. There’s no doubt in Dame Esther’s mind that her helpline is fulfilling an intrinsic need for many elderly people.
‘Most of our callers tell us they have no one else they can talk to,’ she says sadly. ‘One Christmas, I spoke to a caller and he said it was the first time in years that he had talked to someone on Christmas Day. Many elderly people can go for a couple of weeks without having a proper conversation. It can happen to anyone – there are a lot of intelligent, interesting people who find themselves isolated.’
Isolating the problem
Loneliness is normally caused by loss of some kind – a partner, a job, or someone’s sight, hearing or mobility, for example. Becoming a carer to a loved one can also bring on intense feelings of isolation. It’s a familiar topic for Ernie’s care team in the Province of West Lancashire, where the widows of the brethren are key beneficiaries, particularly in times of sickness and financial hardship. The support is there when it’s needed, and Ernie has a loyal group of almoners with a compassionate ear.
Almoner Danny Parks, 76, and Regional Care Officer George Seddon, 73, have experienced personal loss themselves and can empathise with the feelings of despair that follow. ‘An almoner needs to be caring, considerate, diplomatic and sympathetic – all of that comes into it,’ says Danny. ‘I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people. I lost my wife and there’s nothing worse than the loneliness. It’s a dreadful thing and some people can cope with it, and some can’t.’
Danny has great faith in face-to-face contact and he diligently visits the 15 widows in his care on a fortnightly basis. ‘You have to get out of the house and meet people – that’s when you find out what help they really need,’ he explains. ‘Their problems might only be small, but they’re still problems.’
George agrees: ‘There are many people in need but they’re too proud to ask. My mum was 99 when she died so I’ve been able to draw on my own experience. You need to be understanding and able to find solutions where you can. It’s all about gaining people’s confidence and developing trust.’
Almoner Alan Whitehouse, 70, believes talking is crucial: ‘Some of the people we visit have seen no one for weeks. They have probably outlived their friends and peers, which is very sad.’ Alan uses his homemade jams and chutneys as a ‘door-opener’ and makes sure he’s always available on the other end of the phone. All three men praise the changes that Ernie has made to the structure of the West Lancashire Provincial care team.
Getting out and about
For Ernie, it’s vital that the members and widows of the Province are aware of the support available. ‘It’s not always easy to identify exactly who needs help – particularly when elderly people are reluctant to ask for it,’ he explains. ‘So I’m trying to enable the almoners to spend more time delivering pastoral care, and less time doing admin.’
Believing that there is still much work to be done when it comes to helping older people, some of Ernie’s team are also becoming Silver Line Friends. George was the first to sign up and is currently being trained by the charity. ‘It’s a good transfer of skills and experience, and the training they offer is excellent,’ he says.
Dame Esther hopes that other Freemasons will consider volunteering, too. ‘Being a Silver Line Friend only takes an hour a week,’ she says. ‘You can do it from your own home and we provide all the training. If you enjoy having conversations with other people, do visit our website to apply.’
Thanks to Ernie, George, Alan and Danny, and all the other almoners across West Lancashire Province, the older community is in safe hands. According to George, ‘The role of the almoner is the most rewarding job in Freemasonry.’
The Silver Line is a free, confidential service: 0800 4 70 80 90, www.thesilverline.org.uk
Vital help for vulnerable
The Devon Community Foundation has received £5,000 from local masons to help people in need across the county. Devon PGM Ian Kingsbury presented the cheque and the money will be split between the Surviving Winter Appeal, which assists older and vulnerable people affected by fuel poverty, and the Foundation’s Community Grants, which support frontline voluntary and community groups. The Foundation is on average three times oversubscribed for funding, so every donation can make a difference to people’s lives.
Masonic history at Queens’ College
June 2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the first meeting of the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster – the world’s first Grand Lodge. To celebrate this event, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, is hosting a conference at Queens’ College, Cambridge from 9 to 11 September 2016. It is open to all Freemasons and non-masons interested in masonic history.
Delegates can attend on a residential or non-residential basis, and papers are invited on any aspect of the history and development of Freemasonry, and of Grand Lodge in particular.
For anyone interested in contributing, the timetable is:
1 July 2015 Synopsis and outline (500 words maximum)
1 August 2015 Authors advised if their outline has been accepted for delivery
1 April 2016 Abstract (1,200 words maximum)
1 November 2016 Paper for publication – 2,500 words, 10-minute presentation;
5,000 words, 20-minute presentation; and 10,000 words, 40-minute presentation.
Welsh masons to the rescue
South Wales Province Freemasons are continuing to help their local communities. Henry Caylor of Croeso Lodge, No. 8377, which meets in Cardiff, made the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team (CBMRT) his chosen charity, raising £1,000 for the rescue unit through masonic and non-masonic functions. The funds will help CBMRT to purchase additional equipment for its vital service. Currently some 50 volunteers work within the unit, which operates from its base at Merthyr Tydfil.
Hitting a new peak in charity climb
Dale Murphy from Gorhambury Lodge, No. 8745, in Hertfordshire has reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and raised more than £4,500 for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Cystic Fibrosis Research. Dale took up the challenge to climb the world’s highest freestanding mountain after hearing that a close friend’s daughter had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
On the level in Peterborough
At a ceremony at the Peterborough City Rowing Club, a single scull boat funded by Freemasons was christened On the Level. Fitzwilliam Lodge, No. 2533, Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, raised almost £2,500 for the boat, which was named by Bob Beeton on behalf of the lodge. The club relies heavily on donations and each boat costs around £2,000, with the balance being used to supply oars.