Celebrating 300 years

A pioneering programme of non-contact boxing, combined with intensive one-to-one support will be helping young people from deprived backgrounds in South Wales to turn their lives around, thanks to a grant from South Wales Freemasons

The £16,000 grant will pay for 150 young people go through the Empire Fighting Chance charity’s programme of non-contact boxing combined with intensive, tailored support focused on education, employability and wellbeing.

Run from boxing gyms in Torfaen, Merthyr Tydfil and Barry, the programme uses punch bags, skipping and a focus on technique, which improves discipline and physical and mental health. Participants also receive regular mentoring, numeracy and literacy classes, counselling and help preparing for the job market.

The grant from South Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends from across England and Wales.

Despite significant progress over recent years, there are still parts of South Wales that suffer from some of the worst poverty in the UK. Young people face a devastating mix of issues that limit life chances, most notably low academic achievement, poor mental health and high unemployment. Despite the huge challenges they face, few services exist to support them.

Results from the charity’s pilot programme in Bristol point to success. An impressive 87% of the pilot’s participants progressed into employment, education or further training, while 92% reported that they felt more confident in themselves after completing the programme.

One young person suffering from very low self-esteem, depression and anxiety had this to say about the Empire Fighting Chance programme: 'Getting involved has changed my life, I now have a job, my own property and life is looking good. I feel more confident in pursuing my career and I no longer have any problems with my rent.'

Martin Bisp, CEO of Empire Fighting Chance, is confident that the new project will be a success: 'We’re very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their help in making this project possible. Together we’ll transform the lives of many vulnerable young people.'

Alan Gardner from South Wales Freemasons commented: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help Empire Fighting Chance. This is a charity that does what it says on the tin – it helps some of our most deprived young people to have a fighting chance of making something of their lives.'

Older people who have never learned to use the internet are to be helped online thanks to a £66,000 grant to Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons

Age UK will recruit at least 20 “Digital Champions” who will support and guide 2,000 older people to use communication tools like email, Skype and FaceTime, which younger people take for granted. 

The Digital Champions project is aimed at helping these older people to access online information on everything from benefits to bus timetables. With many services becoming digital by default, older people who are not online face more hurdles in their daily lives to access both private and public sector services. There will also be an emphasis on online safety and protection from viruses and fraud.

The project is supporting older people across Leicestershire and Rutland, with a focus on people in rural areas. It aims to combat loneliness and isolation by helping these budding “silver surfers” to keep in touch with family and friends online.

Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland’s Digital Champions will be holding up to four sessions a week across Leicestershire and Rutland. They will be for around 15 people each and be held in community settings such as libraries, village halls and residential homes, whilst there will also be one-to one sessions available.

Tony Donovan, Executive Director at Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, said: 'We are very grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for their generous grant which will improve the quality of life for thousands of older people.

'More than four million older people nationally have never used the internet and we need to help them to benefit from all the advantages of a digital world that most of us take for granted.'

The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to support Age UK’s Digital Champions.

'As well as fighting loneliness and depression, getting older people online has great practical benefits. A household without internet access is on average £650 a year worse off.”

Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons have donated a grant of £8,000 to help victims of the recent flooding in Millom and Haverigg

Heavy rain in these areas last weekend resulted in an estimated 300 homes being flooded. Many of these properties have no insurance, as a result of being flooded on previous occasions.

The Provincial Grand Master of Cumberland and Westmorland, RW Bro Norman Thompson DL, announced the grant during a meeting with the Mayor of Millom, Councillor Angela Dixon.

Of the £8,000 grant, £5,000 comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, with remaining £3,000 coming directly from Provincial funds.

Councillor Angela Dixon, Mayor of Millom, said: 'I’m very grateful to Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons for their generous grant. The recent flooding in Millom and Haverigg hit us very hard and we need all the help we can get to get back on our feet.'

RW Bro Norman Thompson DL said: 'Having your home flooded is a terrible blow for anyone. In this case it’s even worse as these are homes that have flooded before and for which insurance was often unobtainable.

'I am pleased that we can offer a little help to our neighbours in Millom when they need it.'

A grant of £4,000 to the Wales Air Ambulance from South Wales Freemasons has brought the total Masonic support given to air ambulances across the country to almost £4 million since 2007

Wales Air Ambulance operates right across Wales, covering over 8,000 square miles of remote countryside, bustling towns and cities, vast mountain ranges and 800 miles of coastline.

The grant, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, is funded by Freemasons and their families from across England and Wales. During 2017, Freemasons from around the country will be presenting 20 regional air ambulances with grants totalling £180,000.

Catrin Hall from Wales Air Ambulance said: ‘We are very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their continuing generosity.

'Without support like this the Air Ambulance would not be able to carry on flying and our life-saving work could not continue.’

Roy Woodward, Deputy Grand Master from South Wales Freemasons, recently visited Wales Air Ambulance, accompanied by John Davies, Freemasons Charity Officer. He said: ‘We are proud to be able to support the Wales Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of their doctors and aircrew, many lives of local people are saved every year.’

Wales Air Ambulance relies entirely on charitable grants and donations. To make a donation, please click here.

Cliff jump raises over £1,000 for Masonic Charitable Foundation

Tony Andrews and Digby Lund, both from Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 in Loughborough, made a jump off a cliff in Malaga on Sunday 3rd September 2017 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2022 Festival

The 2022 Festival aims to raise £1.8 million by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons over the next five years.

The pair have so far raised over £1,200, and Digby’s wife Yvonne also jumped for charity with Tony's wife Elanor providing moral support. 

Having arrived at Alumnecar, the group were met by their paraglider pilots, Antonio and Jose, who arrived by air demonstrating how best to land. The intrepid paragliders were taken up into the hills along a single track road via numerous hairpin bends to the take-off site. The launch site was on the south side of a sharp ridge offering wonderful views out to sea.

Having arranged the wing, the pilots set about strapping themselves and their guests into their harnesses after which a full safety briefings were delivered. They were then given take-off instructions to simply to run down the slope until the ground fell away.

The flights down were very smooth and offered amazing views out to sea and along the coast. Digby's flight showed the advantage of being so much taller than Antonio when taking off from such a steep slope, a couple of steps and then off into the blue yonder. 

Tony said: ‘We were all lucky enough to have relatively good landings, though I did collect a lot of the beach in my shoes and some in my knees.’

Digby said: ‘Having all safely returned to terra firma, we exchanged feelings about our flights, the heightened heart rate before and during take-off, the gradual relaxing as the flight continued and then the increasing tension as the ground rapidly approached. We all agreed the venture had been well worthwhile and hope the donations will fully reflect our efforts.’

Leicestershire and Rutland Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: ‘Congratulations to Digby and Tony for their fundraising efforts and I'm pleased to learn they landed safely without harm.’

You can still sponsor Digby and Tony by clicking here

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Autumn 2017

From the Grand Secretary

Normally, July and August are quiet months in which we relax and prepare ourselves for the new masonic season ahead. Such a period of calm has been noticeably absent this year, however, as you will discover by reading this issue of Freemasonry Today.

Your Rulers have been particularly busy travelling the globe to support our District activities, as well as enjoying the many events throughout England and Wales, which have been so successful through your hard work. These events may not have been relaxing, but they have certainly been reinvigorating.

I know the Masonic Charitable Foundation would wish me to thank you for your efforts in getting people to vote for the recipients of 300 grants totalling £3 million in celebration of our 300 years and the charity’s foundation. Over 177,000 votes were cast, of which more than 85 per cent were from non-masons. It has been a really positive and successful way of engaging with the community at large, and the charity will shortly be announcing the 300 fortunate beneficiaries of its grants.

We now eagerly anticipate the Grand Ball on 30 September and the culmination of our Tercentenary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 October in a successful year that bodes well for the future.

CLUBBING TOGETHER

In this autumn issue of Freemasonry Today, we look forward to building upon our strong foundations with the Essex Cornerstone Club. Mixing social with community and educational events, the club has already attracted 150 younger members from the masonic community in Essex. Hosting activities ranging from paintball and family days to charity runs, the founding members are now exploring how technology could help create a national or even international network of young Freemasons.

Of course, innovation isn’t the sole property of younger people. Our piece on Music in Hospitals reveals how live music can spark important memories and emotions for the elderly. We travel to a care home in Surrey to see jazz musician Phoebe Gorry performing to a captivated audience. Thanks to the latest funding from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the initiative is being rolled out in care homes across the country, allowing staff to have a more detailed understanding of their residents and provide improved levels of care.

For Freemason Iestyn Llewellyn, the immediate future will be spent pounding the streets as he aims to complete four marathons to mark his 40th birthday. Our profile on Iestyn reveals how he was inspired to push himself beyond his comfort zone when he discovered Daisy’s Dream, a charity providing support and advice for children facing the news of the terminal illness or death of a loved one.

Being a mason has allowed Iestyn to mix with like-minded people in an environment where he feels he belongs. While the work his lodge does for charity is crucial, it’s the brotherly love that keeps Iestyn coming back. All of which points to an exciting and positive future for us all.

Willie Shackell
Grand Secretary

‘Thank you for your efforts in getting people to vote for the recipients of 300 grants totalling £3 million’

Published in UGLE
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

Masonic funding is building bridges

Thanks to masonic funding, more WellChild Nurses like Rachel Gregory can help young people with exceptional health needs move from hospitals back into their homes, as Steven Short learns

Yesterday I travelled to deepest Lincolnshire for a home visit,’ says Rachel Gregory. ‘One of my children is starting school in September, so we had a final sign-off meeting to ensure everything is in place, and everyone is able to properly support his needs. We thought he might have to go to a special school – but he’s going to a mainstream school; it’s amazing.’

Rachel is a WellChild Nurse and her Lincolnshire child is one of around 100 under her team’s care. There are some 100,000 children and young people in the UK living with serious illness or exceptional health needs. Many of them spend months or even years in hospital because there is no support enabling them to leave.

The WellChild Nurse programme was established in 2006 to provide specialist support that makes it possible for children to be cared for at home. There are currently 32 WellChild Nurses across the UK. Employed by the NHS and funded by WellChild, these paediatric nurses help children and their families with issues such as ventilator-assisted breathing, physical and learning disabilities, tube-feeding, seizure management and chronic debilitating pain.

Rachel, a WellChild Long Term Ventilation Nurse Specialist, is based at Nottingham Children’s Hospital. Her role is part-funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which has just awarded the charity a grant of £110,000 to fund a similar post in Derbyshire. Rachel, like her fellow WellChild Nurses, not only supports children with complex medical needs and potentially life-limiting conditions, but also provides support to their families.

The grant is the latest in a relationship between the charity and the MCF that spans almost two decades. ‘WellChild is a well-respected organisation, and there is clearly a demand for its services,’ says Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer at the MCF. 

Every year, the MCF gives more than £5 million to charities across England and Wales. Its latest grant to WellChild Nurses brings the total figure awarded to the charity to £240,000. ‘This is one of our larger grants, built on a relationship of trust and understanding, and seeing the impact of their work over a number of years,’ Les explains.

‘We wanted to fund provision in Derbyshire as there is a clear need. WellChild has already identified 90 children in the area in urgent need of support,’ he says. ‘Not only does this care-at-home model constitute a tremendous saving for the NHS, it also means that children are able to experience life as a child, to do things they would miss out on if they were in hospital – like going to school, sleeping in their own bedroom, going on family outings.’

TAILORED CARE

Rachel, like the other WellChild Nurses, responds to the needs of individual children and their families. She will be involved in planning and coordinating a child’s transition from hospital to home – it’s estimated that 12 per cent of children in paediatric intensive care beds could be looked after at home were there enough support for them. She will ensure that necessary equipment, care and support are in place for the child and their family. Rachel is also able to provide practical respiratory nursing care at home.

Besides dealing with these practical issues, her job has an emotional element to it too: ‘My role can be very supportive. Some of the children’s medical needs are complex, and caring for them at home can be stressful for parents. Families are often under a considerable amount of pressure.’

While no two working days are the same, for Rachel, they always begin by checking her work phone for texts and emails. ‘I always have a look first thing to see if anything has occurred overnight,’ she says.

After seeing her own two children off to school, Rachel grabs breakfast on the run and usually arrives at work by 8.30am. ‘Some days I might be office-based, doing paperwork, writing reports and making phone calls,’ she says. ‘I might have a child coming in for review, and some days we have a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic, headed up by our consultant, during which we will see existing patients and meet newly diagnosed children and look at their needs and support.’

Those outpatient appointments number some 10,000 a year, according to Jo Watson, lead nurse for Derby Children’s Hospital, where the new WellChild Nurse will be based. ‘We manage inpatient and outpatient services here, as well as the children’s emergency department,’ says Jo. ‘Many children with complex needs don’t have a formal diagnosis and because of the way the NHS is currently funded, there is no defined care pathway for them… there are gaps in service.’

‘Not only does this care-at-home model constitute a saving for the NHS, it also means children are able to experience life as a child…’ Les Hutchinson

BEST PRACTICE

The funding of the WellChild Nurse will, says Jo, ‘allow us to provide better coordinated care for those children with numerous illnesses who need attention from different hospitals and healthcare professionals.’ Jo hopes that, as well as coordinating this care, the new WellChild Nurse will network with their peers to bring best practice back to Derbyshire. ‘The grant is about enhancing the quality of care we offer. It’s a leadership role.’

Along with being a bridge between families and the hospital and community teams, Rachel provides training for anyone who may need to help with a child’s care – from family members to school teachers to Brownie leaders. She also organises and conducts sleep studies in the child’s home overnight.

‘Breathing difficulties often happen at night, so we do sleep studies to make sure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are where we want them to be,’ says Rachel. ‘We make sure ventilators are working, and if anything is wrong we make necessary changes, perhaps trying new forms of ventilation or new regimes. All of this can now be done at home, rather than necessitating a hospital stay.’

If no such study demands her attention, Rachel heads home. ‘Then it’s time for teenage homework – I change my hat as I walk through the door and turn back into a mum.’

Find out more at: www.wellchild.org.uk

Support for Sophie

One of the children supported by WellChild Nurse Rachel Gregory is 11-year-old Sophie. She and her twin sister Erica were born at 24 weeks and have cerebral palsy. Sophie’s condition is more severe than her sister’s and she has a number of conditions including epilepsy, chronic lung disease and scoliosis, which requires 24/7 care. Sophie is ventilated at home and her family attends to her many medical needs.

‘Rachel has been instrumental in keeping Sophie at home,’ says Leanne Cooper, mum to the twins and nine-year-old Kyla. ‘She is a constant support and the link between us and many of the healthcare professionals we deal with. She makes sure everything runs smoothly for Sophie, ensuring she is at the centre of all decision-making so she can live a full life.’

Leanne is a member of the parental advisory group that works with WellChild to help shape its strategy. She is also one of the parents who started the ‘#notanurse_but’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the level of medical care parents provide for their children at home.

‘Years ago, many of the children we work with would not have survived their conditions,’ says Rachel. ‘In the past 10 years, things have really changed and long-term ventilation at home is much more viable. Technology and medical decision-making have really advanced, meaning our children can now live full and fulfilling lives at home.’

Published in Freemasonry Cares
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

New apprentices for York Minster

The ongoing restoration and maintenance of York Minster is in safe hands, thanks to new stonemasonry apprenticeships funded by the MCF

Three apprenticeships are being introduced over three years at York Minster with the support of £170,000 from the MCF. Each apprentice will learn their craft by working in the Minster’s Stoneyard and studying at York College.

The first apprentice to benefit is 27-year-old Lewis Morrison, who joined the Minster in August 2016. ‘I have an arts-based background and was looking for a career that was practical and creative,’ he explained. ‘I knew I wanted to work in the heritage sector and jumped at the opportunity to work at one of the world’s great medieval cathedrals. The apprenticeship offers me the opportunity to develop my skills alongside some of the country’s most talented craftspeople.’

MCF Deputy President and Chairman James Newman visited York Minster to present staff with a certificate for the grant. He said: ‘Being a Yorkshireman myself, I personally feel the significance that this building plays in many people’s lives. It is an honour to support this project and ensure the longevity of York Minster.’

John David, master mason at York Minster, said: ‘We’re hugely grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for the donation. The funding allows us to provide young people with specialist training, while investing in the fabric and future of this ancient building.’

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

The MCF hit the road to celebrate Tercentenary

Over the past few months, the MCF has travelled up and down the country attending events to celebrate the Tercentenary year

From fun days to horse races, open days to classic car rallies, Masonic Charitable Foundation staff have been lending a hand and joining in with Tercentenary festivities. The MCF Human Fruit Machine quickly became a star attraction at the events and was enjoyed by both young and old, with winners receiving an MCF teddy bear as a keepsake.

The events were a fantastic way to celebrate the 300th anniversary of UGLE, as well as a chance to explain the charitable side of Freemasonry to members of the public. They also allowed staff members to talk to people who have benefited from the work of the charity and to spread the word to those who may need support in the future.

Encouraged by Freemasons’ engagement with the MCF over the past few months, the charity’s Chief Executive David Innes looks forward to the rest of this Tercentenary year

One of the major initiatives to commemorate the 300th anniversary of UGLE has been the MCF Community Awards – Tercentenary Fund. This unique initiative saw each Province and Metropolitan Grand Lodge select a number of charities within its borders to be eligible for a range of grants from £4,000 to £25,000. The masonic and non-masonic communities were then invited to vote, and we were staggered by the response, with more than 177,000 votes cast over the six-week period.

Thank you to all who voted and promoted the awards – you have made a tremendous difference to 300 charities across England and Wales. We know from our research that the awards have helped the public to gain a much better understanding of the philanthropic nature of Freemasonry, and this can only help us all as we move forward.

‘The Community Awards have helped the public to gain a much better understanding of the philanthropic nature of Freemasonry…’

Alongside the Community Awards, it has been wonderful to be part of many other celebrations. MCF staff have attended Tercentenary events across the country over the past few months, meeting many of you along the way. It has been a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the work that we do, reach out to those who may need our support and have some fun.

As we enter the final quarter of the year, one of our priorities is to ensure that our members have a greater role in our governance. As the voice of the Craft, it is vital we keep members at the heart of our decisions to ensure we remain relevant to our beneficiaries.

Those same members are our representatives in the Provinces and they do an excellent job raising awareness of us as an organisation. Our second members’ meeting, held in June, was a brilliant opportunity to exchange information and ideas.

Whether you’ve voted in our awards or donated to support our work, I thank you for all your efforts and hope you enjoy the rest of this Tercentenary year. Looking to the future, the new strategy for the MCF will be finalised by the end of 2017; I look forward to sharing it with you.

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