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