Roger Freeman, Head of the Masonic Relief Grants Team, Describes How His Staff are Experiencing a Time of Change
Roger joined the masonic relief grants team in 2008 having worked for the Department for Work and Pensions for forty two years as a manager of a social security office. Roger was also Provincial Grand Almoner of Cornwall for fifteen years from 1992 to 2007.
Changes in cases
We are a very busy team, dealing with approximately 200-250 applications each month. Last year we processed £3.5 million in grants for 1,933 people but this year we will be assisting many more. If you go back, say ten years, the majority of applications came from the elderly. This has changed over recent years and we now assist many different types of people. This includes the recently retired who are suffering from a considerable loss of income; recently bereaved widows with funeral expenses and other associated costs; and over the past couple of years the number of applications coming in from those who have been made redundant from long-term and well-paid employment, has increased dramatically. I am sorry to say that another area of work, which is quite extensive, concerns those Freemasons who are long-term sick and therefore struggling to support their families due to the resultant loss of income. Our advice to anyone with a problem is: contact us. We will consider any application and do our best to help, either through a masonic relief grant or by steering them to other sources of aid.
Coordination between the four masonic charities
All four charities talk to each other on a daily basis and hold monthly meetings to talk through issues. We all receive questions pertaining to the work of the other charities and we always ensure that we communicate these to each other. If we receive an application from someone who is eligible for assistance from one of the other three charities we pass the form on straight away, so that the charity can start work immediately on their aspect of the case. In conjunction with the other masonic charities we are also frequently in contact with the Mark Benevolent Fund, which provides further assistance to those in need. One fantastic new initiative that will ensure an increased level of cooperation is that of the common application form. Even though all four charities request slightly different information, a joint working group has created a concise application form to be used in all instances. This will save a lot of time for those completing the applications. The new form is currently being trialled in provinces in the north of England, and we hope to get feedback on this very soon with a view to making it standard in 2011.
Proud of the work of the Grand Charity
On a personal basis, working for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy working with the team who are extremely well motivated, and I enjoy helping people. To see the assistance given and the effect that you have on people’s lives is an extremely satisfying part of what we do. I am proud of the work of the Grand Charity and glad to be of service to it.