Hope Support Services, founded in 2009 in Ross on Wye, provides support for young people aged 11-25 when a close family member is seriously ill with a life-threatening condition, especially those with cancer. They provide support at this stressful time through sessions where young people can gather together in Ross, Leominster and Hereford.
They arrange various activities and outings, and also provide support online, through Facebook and Skype, and are in the process of developing an app with help from Comic Relief which will enable young people to communicate with each other and to link with other charities which might be able to provide help.
Their aim is to provide emotional support for their young clients, of whom there are around 300, and to prepare them for bereavement. They also run a Building Better Opportunities course for those young people who are wanting to find work.
In 2017, they were approached by St Michael’s Hospice to run their services for the children of cancer patients being cared for by the Hospice. Children looked after in this way can be as young as five, and around 130 children and young people are cared for through this initiative.
They have eight full and part-time staff, plus a session worker and two online workers. There is also a Youth Management Team, who have benefited from the services themselves in the past and now help with planning and holding the charity’s range of activities.
On receiving the donation, Hope Support Services warmly thanked the Freemasons of Herefordshire for the generous grant, which will go towards developing the activities provided for young people at this difficult time in their lives.
As part of their annual support of Hospices throughout the country, Devonshire Freemasons have donated £988 to Rowcroft Hospice
Devonshire's Deputy Provincial Grand Master Nick Ball presented the certificate denoting the £988 grant, given on behalf of the Province of Devonshire and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), to Debbi Shotton, Community Fundraising Officer for Rowcroft Hospice.
This year the MCF will give grants totalling £300,000 to 245 hospices in England and Wales including nearly £7,000 to seven hospices in Devon, as part of the £12 million given since 1984. This includes £300,000 which has been distributed between all the hospices that receive less than 65% funding from the NHS. A further £300,000 will be granted to the national charity for hospice care, Hospice UK, in a partnership aimed at developing and extending bereavement support services in hospices.
Devonshire Freemasons have been long-term supporters of Rowcroft Hospice and including individual donations made by many of the 133 lodges that meet throughout the county, combined with the MCF, have donated over £110,000 since 2000.
On receiving the certificate, Debbi Shotton said: ‘We are so grateful for the continued support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. We care for over 2,000 patients and their loved ones every year across the 300 square miles of South Devon.
'In addition to our Inpatient Unit, our specialist palliative care nurses and Community Teams visit patients in their own homes, providing care and compassion where it is needed the most. It currently costs over £7 million to run Rowcroft’s extensive services and we have to raise over 70% of that ourselves. We rely heavily on the incredible generosity of the local community.’
Rowcroft Hospice have been serving the people of South Devon since 1982, helping to make every day the best day possible for patients with life-limiting illness, demonstrating real humanity in the delivery of end of life care to patients and equally importantly their families, enhancing lives to the end for thousands of people both at home and in the care of the hospice.
Deputy Provincial Grand Master Nick Ball said: ‘It is always a privilege for the Freemasons to be able to support Rowcroft Hospice and the work they do which is so valuable, not only to the patients but also to their families.’
Up to 2,400 older people living in parts of Exeter and East Devon will receive help to live full and independent lives in their own homes for longer, thanks to a grant from Devonshire Freemasons
The £37,184 grant to the Estuary League of Friends, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, has funded a new Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn Spencer, who will be responsible for creating 75 new volunteering opportunities for local people. It will help Estuary reach out to 1,000 more people in need over the next two years.
This new project comes at a critical time for older people living in Devon, where so many older people live out their retirement far from family and friends and are at risk of experiencing extreme loneliness especially as their health, or that of their partner, deteriorates. Devon County Council estimates that up to 57,000 people aged 65 years or more and living in the county experience loneliness or intense loneliness.
Estuary’s new Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn will help combat loneliness experienced by older residents by creating meaningful volunteering opportunities, supporting local people to set up new activities that strengthen the community, and establishing new volunteer-led projects that reach out to the most vulnerable in our community.
The Estuary League of Friends was founded by volunteers in 1987, and today, its staff and 165 local volunteers provide a wide range of services and activities helping over 1,400 people resident in Exeter and East Devon to live full and independent lives. Last year, Estuary was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of community volunteering excellence. Yet, the charity has never had a staff member dedicated to supporting its volunteers.
Devon is also one of the 13 project areas across England and Wales in which the Masonic Charitable Foundation is working with Age UK in a £1 million initiative to reduce loneliness among older people.
Rachel Gilpin, Estuary’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that Devonshire Freemasons have agreed to make a game-changing investment in the way that we work. This new Volunteer Coordinator post will help us reach many more of the vulnerable older generation who are part of our community and yet whose daily existence is one of isolation and loneliness.
'We would encourage local people who are interested in volunteering their time to get in touch with us today, to find out more about how they can help neighbours in need.'
Dr Reuben Ayres, Devonshire’s Provincial Grand Charity Steward, said: ‘The Freemasons of Devonshire are very pleased to be able to help the Estuary League of Friends, which does truly outstanding work helping older people overcome the loneliness and isolation that can make life thoroughly miserable.
'By employing Marilyn Spencer as volunteer coordinator we will reach out and enhance the lives of many more vulnerable people and we can then feel we have had a small part in achieving something worthwhile here in Devon.’
It was another sell out event at the annual Charity Boxing Night, organised by West Lancashire Freemasons, which helped to raise over £11,000 for charity
Held at the Cumbria Grand Hotel, Grange over Sands, on the edge of the Lake District, it was in this idyllic setting overlooking the natural grandeur of Morecambe Bay, that the tournament celebrated its 33rd year. With over 200 Freemasons and guests in attendance, a dinner and raffle preceded the main event, setting the stage for a great night of sport for everyone.
This year there were 14 bouts on the card which saw some very keenly contested competition between young boxers from amateur boxing clubs based in Barrow, Kendal and Carlisle, with each bout limited to just three rounds.
Peter Schofield, who is the chairman of the Furness and South Lakes masonic group, was full of praise for the organiser, Barry Bray and the evening’s regular MC Ralph Spours. Commenting on the amount of money raised by the event and its impact on local charities, Peter said: ‘I am personally delighted that the money given locally goes to those smaller, often unheralded, good causes who add so much to our communities and to whom a donation of a few hundred pounds makes a great difference. Some of the stories we hear at the presentation evenings are quite moving and confirm that our efforts really are worthwhile.
‘Last year saw this boxing event pass the £200,000 total as regards monies raised, we are now in a position to head for the £250,000 mark and that should be our focus over the next couple of years.’
It was confidently predicted at the end of the evening, that the total raised that night would exceed £11,000, which would be divided between the Masonic Charitable Foundation and local charities.
As usual, the event attracted widespread coverage in the local and regional press, giving many people an opportunity to learn a little more about the support Freemasons give to their local communities.
Lincolnshire Freemasons have given £5,000 to help improve the quality of life for those most in need in one of the country’s most deprived wards
This is the East Marsh in Grimsby, which has the unenviable status of being in the bottom 1% on a national deprivation league table. The money, which has come through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, has been given to Harbour Place who are based in Hope Street, Grimsby, and support rough sleepers, the homeless and other socially excluded people.
In September last year, the charity moved to the Hope Street premises, which allowed it to launch a permanent night shelter in support of its Street Outreach Project, which has been running since April 2011, and has now been expanded.
Project Director Robin Barr said: 'A key part of the project’s activities include supporting and advocating on behalf of clients through signposting, referral and access to a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector agencies. Since opening the Hope Centre in September 2018, Harbour Place has registered over 175 clients for the new service.'
'Since the move to Hope Street more than 50 people have been helped to find permanent accommodation, more than 30 of whom have been through the night shelter.'
Robin said that success was an indication of the significance of the £5,000 donation: 'Our records indicate that if we can work consistently with someone over a short period, we can usually assist them to find accommodation.'
The donation was made by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master, David Wheeler, and Pete Tong, the Provincial Charity Steward.
Pete said: 'The message we brought away from the staff and volunteers at Harbour Place was that for more people than we might have imagined, the prospect of living on the street was too close for comfort. For many, the financial cushion which keeps the roof over their head is very thin indeed.
'They told us of one man they were helping who had been a respected professional in the community, but after problems resulting from a marriage break-up he had been reduced to living on the street.
'The successes achieved by the team of staff and volunteers are hard won, and we trust our donation will help their efforts to be even more effective.'
Over 70 young people in and around Swindon will receive a major boost to their education, thanks to a £50,000 grant from Wiltshire Freemasons
The grant, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, will pay for a Villiers Park Educational Trust learning mentor, as part of the social mobility charity’s Scholars Programme.
The Swindon Scholars Programme is for high ability students in Years 10-13, who face barriers – such as a low household income or eligibility for free school meals – that typically have the knock-on effect of putting them at an educational disadvantage compared to their peers.
As part of the intensive and personalised four-year scheme, students will have regular meetings with their learning mentor, who will provide advice, guidance and support in helping each scholar to reach agreed personal goals.. The programme, which operates in seven schools and colleges in Swindon, has been shown to improve exam results, raise aspirations and motivation and increase vital skills such as confidence and communication.
Villiers Park Educational Trust is a national charity providing support to 14-19 year olds to raise their academic, employability and personal skills. The Swindon Scholars Programme has been running in the area for eight years. Last year, 62% of Year 13 students on the programme achieved A*-B grades in their A-levels (compared to a national average of 53%) and over 64% went to university (compared to 33 % nationally).
Rosie Knowles, Deputy Director of Development at Villiers Park, said: 'We’re very grateful to Wiltshire Freemasons for their grant which will make a tremendous difference to the lives of the young people we work with. By providing support that’s tailored to their specific strengths, as well as areas for development, we know they will be helped to understand their options and accomplish their best.'
Philip Bullock, Provincial Grand Master of Wiltshire, said: 'The best possible start in life is to get a good education. By helping promising young people in our community to gain confidence and other vital skills, Wiltshire Freemasons donation will give them the opportunity to access top universities and transform their life chances.'
Children’s Hospice South West’s Little Bridge House hospice has been chosen to receive a grant of £746 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), and will be used to help provide respite care and support for the children and their families at the hospice in Fremington, North Devon.
This is just one of 237 grants to hospices around the country from Freemasons. In total £600,000 will be donated to hospices all over England and Wales this year.
This includes £300,000 which will be distributed to each hospice that receives less than 60 per cent funding from the NHS. A further £300,000 will be provided to individual hospices across England and Wales via Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care. MCF is partnering with Hospice UK to develop and extend bereavement support services in hospices.
Devonshire Freemasons have been long-term supporters of Children’s Hospice South West and, including individual donations made by the 131 Devonshire lodges, have given grants totalling over £103,000 since it opened in 1995.
Ann Juby, Children’s Hospice South West’s major gifts, trusts and grants Fundraiser, said: ‘We’re very grateful to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire for their generous grant, which will help us to provide respite for the whole family, including a sibling service for brothers and sisters, emergency support, end of life care, and a bereavement service for as long as it is needed.’
Charles Yelland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to assist Children’s Hospice South West. They do an outstanding job helping children with terminal or life limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families through very difficult times for which we are equally grateful.’
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £1,535 to Willen Hospice in Milton Keynes, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, and is part of a £600,000 grant made to 237 Hospices across England and Wales
The donation was made during Christmas last year, with Mike Clanfield, Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Charity Steward, dressed in a festive elf hat to mark the occasion. He said: ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to assist donating to Willen Hospice.
‘They do an outstanding job of helping people with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families through very difficult times.’
Willen Hospice needs to raise £4.7 million a year to provide specialist end-of-life care and this donation will help the hospice to continue caring for patients, provides therapy sessions and support for friends and family.
A new, specialist bereavement service for families who are dealing with the grief of losing a child is being launched at Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice in Wales, thanks to a £20,000 grant from South Wales Freemasons
Tŷ Hafan, based in Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, offers comfort, support and care to life limited children, young people and their families throughout Wales. Care in the hospice focuses on making the most of the time families have together. The charity provides support and care for many years, from admission to bereavement and beyond, and ensures the child’s siblings, parents, carers and extended family are considered.
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will allow Tŷ Hafan to create a dedicated bereavement support service, which will be based in a specially designed summer house near the hospice’s memorial garden. It will give families and individuals the support they need in their darkest hours, as they come to terms with the death of a child or with the knowledge that in the future, their child will die. The funding will also allow Tŷ Hafan to recruit a pool of bereavement therapists with specialist expertise who are the very best in their field.
Hannah Williams, Partnerships, Projects and Research Lead at Tŷ Hafan, said: ‘We’re very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their generous grant. It will allow us to extend the care and support that families so desperately need, by creating an appropriate dedicated therapy space and recruiting a pool of experienced, specialist therapists to ensure we can offer a bespoke service based on individual need.’
Robert Payne, Charity Officer of South Wales Freemasons, said: ‘We’re very pleased to be able to help Ty Hafan, who are doing wonderful work helping families cope with the grief of losing a child. This is a hugely important project that will support people at their most vulnerable time.’
Brad Watson’s son Archie was referred to Tŷ Hafan in 2013 and sadly died when he was just two and a half. But Brad and his wife and children are still very much part of the Tŷ Hafan family.
Brad was pleased at the news of the grant from South Wales Freemasons: ‘As a father who has lost a child, it’s not easy. Coupling a visit to the garden to remember, plus having the opportunity to talk in an environment where there is total comfort will be incredible for the well-being of those who need this.’
Brad added: ‘With this funding, Tŷ Hafan can now provide an even greater support facility to ensure that we have a place to go to honour the memories we have of our children, cherish what we still have and make new memories with them. And if we need to open up, we can do so in dignity and privacy.’
Young people leaving the care system in Milton Keynes will be given the support they need, thanks to a £45,000 grant from Buckinghamshire Freemasons to the charity Volunteering Matters
The grant, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), will fund the award-winning Grandmentors programme, which will see volunteers aged 50 and over trained to provide mentoring for young people leaving care during their transition into adulthood and independence.
Every year 10,000 young people over the age of 16 leave care in the UK. More than 60 per cent were taken into care due to abuse or neglect, and many have grown up without the significant personal and developmental benefits of a grandparent figure in their lives. The Grandmentors project is inspired by the accepting and nurturing relationship between a young person and a grandparent. This life changing volunteer programme is already running in six areas across the UK, and has now come to Milton Keynes.
The launch event for the project, held at Milton Keynes Civic Chambers, was in partnership with Computer Xplorers Bucks. Attendees got involved in Lego robotics and coding, which helped potential mentors and mentees to meet each other in a relaxed, fun and innovative way.
Oonagh Aitken, Chief Executive of Volunteering Matters, said: ‘We’re very grateful to Buckinghamshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help young people leaving the care system. Our vision is that every care leaver in the country has access to a Grandmentor, should they choose, and we’re deeply thankful to the Freemasons for helping us to work towards that vision.’
Phil Blacklaw, from Buckinghamshire Freemasons, said: ‘I’m very pleased we’re able to help fund the Grandmentors programme. Young people leaving care are already most likely to have been victims of neglect and abuse in childhood and they then find themselves on their own at 18 years of age with little or no help from anyone. Giving them someone to rely on at that crucial stage can be life-changing.’