Freemasons from Harlow Lodge No. 4404 – based in Harrogate in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding – have given the town’s homeless project a £1,263 boost

The money – raised over a 12-month period from raffles held at monthly lodge dinners – will be used by the charity to maintain its running costs for its Bower Street hostel and ‘Springboard’ day service.

The donation was presented to Harrogate Homeless Project representatives by last year’s Master, Andrew Simister, and the current lodge mater, Leigh Eyles.

Andrew Simister said: ‘Many people outside the area would not think that an affluent town like Harrogate has a homelessness issue, but having lived here all my life I can assure them it does.

‘That’s why we, the members of Harrogate’s Harlow Lodge, are keen to support this project that does so much within our local community. Harlow Lodge has been in existence for just short of 100 years, and in that time charity has been one of our central themes. It will continue to be this way for many years to come.’

Harrogate Homeless Project chairman John Harris said: ‘I would like to thank the members of Harlow Lodge for their generosity and for nominating us as their nominated charity of the year.

‘This is the second time in as many weeks that Freemasons from Harrogate have given us a much-needed financial boost, as we received £1,700 from Harrogate and Claro Lodge to purchase office equipment.’

A donation of £1,700 from Harrogate Freemasons has helped Harrogate District Hospital launch a 'comforting' initiative for relatives of patients at the end of their lives

Harrogate and Claro Lodge No. 1001 secured £1,700 from the Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s Provincial Grand Master’s Charity Fund, to kick start the 'Comfort Bags' scheme. Set up by Harrogate District Hospital & Community Charity and Harrogate District Palliative Care Team, the bags are helping enhance both dignity and practical support throughout end of life for patients and their relatives, in the acute hospital setting.

Each year, more than 600 patients spend their last days and hours in the Harrogate District Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

The bags, which contain a blanket, travel pillow, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissues, notebook and pen, hand lotions and essential toiletries, a free meal voucher and a free parking permit, provide very practical items to help improve the comfort of relatives staying for long periods, or overnight with patients who are in the last days of life. These are items they may well forget to bring with them when they’re in a hurry or didn’t expect to stay long.

Feedback from relatives has been very positive and grateful for the additional support this scheme has provided.

John Birkenshaw, Charity Steward of Harrogate and Claro Lodge, said: 'We are really proud to support this innovative scheme which will bring much needed comfort and support to both patients and relatives at a time when it is needed the most.'

Initial funding was used to launch the bags, however ongoing funding is vital to continue to provide this service. Current projections suggest this will require approximately £5,000 per year to fund 300 comfort bags.

The donation from Harrogate Freemasons will make a set the scheme on a firm road ahead and the donation will be used to continue to fund the contents of the comfort bags.

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