Funds given by Freemasons to help victims of Wainfleet’s summertime flooding are being used to good effect in and around the town
So far more than £55,000 has been given to 61 families whose homes were inundated when the River Steeping burst its banks.
The funds were made of up £25,000 each from the Province of Lincolnshire, The Mark Benevolent Fund, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, topped up with donations from other Provinces which had also experienced flooding, and understood the need for a sustained response.
And on a Lincolnshire Day visit to the Coronation Hall in the village, the Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire Dave Wheeler said he was confident the funds were being given to the right people in the right way.
At the ‘sharp end’ of delivery is Sue Fortune, Joint CEO of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation which is managing and co-ordinating the appeal funding. She has met many of the families face to face and said: 'Phase 1 involved giving £500 to each home which the water had got in to. Phase2 started at the beginning of September, and is offering up to £1,000 to alleviate specific hardship.'
The money is not being divided equally, says Sue, but is being distributed equitably. 'Some people need the money more than others, and some haven’t asked for financial support on the basis they believe others are worse off and need the money more,' she said.
Sue said a face-to-face approach had been made available to support those affected, rather than leaving it to online applications. 'As well as needing money, people needed to have someone they could talk to; to feel someone cared. That, and having the Coronation Hall to go to where people could access various support agencies, have been a fundamental part of the success of the recovery process.'
Sue freely shared her mobile phone number with the families, resulting in calls as early and 7.30am and as late as 9pm. She also spent a considerable time at the Coronation Hall in the town, which became a ‘flood hub’; a focal point for residents. Those calls and meetings yielded some tough stories, such as the couple who were due to exchange contracts for a house sale the day after the floods and families who lost everything. “We listened to all the stories, and responded equitably,' she said.
Face-to-face meetings also helped signpost the villagers to people with specialist knowledge who were able to get things done. A grants panel was formed, with Sue as mediator, to offer financial support to help bring Wainfleet back to, as close as possible, to the way it was before the flood. Sue’s fellow Joint CEO James Murphy added: 'There was naturally a significant degree of emotional distress. Being here in person provided the reassurance of proactivity; that there was a person they could talk to.'
After meeting Sue, James, and the residents at a Lincolnshire Day get-together in Coronation Hall Dave Wheeler said: 'We have been so reassured that the money we have donated has gone absolutely to the right people and the right places. The process we have heard of today is fantastic. All of Lincolnshire’s Freemasons can feel as proud as I do of what’s been achieved with our financial help. I am in awe of the work that’s been done here since the flooding; it’s superb.'
Through the generosity of Lincolnshire’s Freemasons, the Masonic Charitable Foundation has been able to support Age UK Lindsey with a donation of £63,000
The life-changing donation is part of a £1 million project called Later Life Goals, launched nationwide to support the charity’s work in reaching out to enhance the lives of many hundreds of lonely and vulnerable older people.
In Lincolnshire this year alone that translates to one-to-one intervention on behalf of 262 people undergoing major transitions in their lives such as bereavement, serious health diagnosis, or a partner moving to a care home.
Age UK Lindsey works across East and West Lindsey and North Lincolnshire, helping to make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience by providing a range of direct services, advice, and domestic support. This can include help to access benefits, liaising with care agencies, or simply a weekly befriending visit.
Service Manager Sue White said demand for the services they were able to provide continued to flood in: ‘We have an average of 200 new referrals for our information and advice service every month, and 30 new requests for our befriending help on top of that. Our services are always up to capacity, and so many callers have nowhere else to go.
‘We can’t thank you enough for this donation; it will help us to sustain our services to people who otherwise might have no help at all.”
Dave Wheeler, Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master, said: ’The work of Age UK Lindsey is vital for so many people in rural Lincolnshire. I’d urge brethren to volunteer to help with the befriending service. It involves an hour week of a chat over a cup of tea, but it can be a lifeline for someone.'
‘Donald’ isn’t the real name of the man in this story, but the story itself is all too real. Donald and his landlord wanted his story to be shared to show how Age UK Lindsey, with the support of Lincolnshire’s Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, had turned his life around.
Serious financial problems, and the worry they brought, were making Donald ill. He wasn’t sleeping and he couldn’t see a way around his difficulties.
Eviction was a very real threat, but his landlord, (let’s call him John), didn’t want it to come to that. He told us: ‘Donald is in his 70s, and relies on his state pension and a relatively modest housing benefit award. His financial situation was causing him distress and anxiety.’
John contacted Age UK Lindsey, at which point volunteer Pam Cox entered the story. John said: ‘Donald and I met her two or three times, and she was instrumental in getting him a higher level of attendance allowance and improved pension credit, which allowed him not only to clear his rent arrears, but made him £150 a week better off.’
Pam, who volunteered to help Age UK for six months almost ten years ago, and has never left, said there was as much as £1m in unclaimed benefits in the system. ‘But the application process can be very difficult,’ she said. ‘Even if you understand the system, and how to fill in forms, it can take as long as two hours to complete one application, and that can be a barrier to people applying.’
John said: ‘I really cannot stress enough just how magnificent the work of Age UK Lindsey has been. I’m full of admiration for the organisation, and Pam Cox in particular. It’s an excellent organisation, and its work can’t be commended highly enough.’
Donald, given such vital support, is now very happy with this life. The anxiety has gone, and with a smile on his face he was able to say: ‘I’ve just been to see the doctor. He says I’m 400% better than I was. I’m cheerful again.’
Funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation and operated by Lincoln’s St Barnabas Hospice Trust and the city’s YMCA, a new project to help the homeless could become the model for similar schemes nationwide
It’s about a new dimension in the range of services offered by the organisations and is aimed specifically at helping the homeless to cope with bereavement.
YMCA CEO Caroline Killeavy said working in partnership with MCF support made a significant difference. The scheme will provide one-to-one specialist counselling to work with homeless people through the difficulties, challenges and emotions that can accompany bereavement.
Although there are no exact figures of how many homeless people in Lincoln are struggling with bereavement, there is research that shows it is a problem on a national scale. Strong circumstantial evidence that indicates it is prevalent in Lincoln.
The YMCA and Lincoln Baptist Church independently contacted St Barnabas Hospice to discuss the problem, which lead to the hospice putting together a bid to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for funding.
Counselling sessions are held at the YMCA hostel in Rumbold Street and at The Nomad Trust’s shelter in Monks Road. Caroline Killeavy, CEO of Lincolnshire YMCA, added: ‘The YMCA recognises people become homeless for many reasons, but one we repeatedly see is bereavement and loss.’
Pete Crosby, Lincoln Baptist Church community coordinator, said: ‘Bereavement among the homeless community is a reoccurring issue. Without specialist bereavement support these people will not overcome their grief and be able to get on with their lives.’
Cat Rodda is the bereavement counsellor leading the year-long project, and has already seen positive changes in those taking part. She said: ‘These sessions provide a confidential and accessible space for homeless people, who traditionally haven’t felt able to access the hospice’s bereavement support. We are already seeing individuals start to work through and better cope with their grief and taking steps to move forward with their lives.’
In addition to the counselling, the project aims to provide bereavement training for staff at partner organisations and for homeless peer mentors in order to widen the impact of the project.
Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler said: ‘People can find themselves living on the street for a variety of reasons. Life is already tough enough for the homeless, and the last thing they need is the extra burden of being alone whilst having to cope with the grief of bereavement.
‘The Masonic Charitable Foundation’s donation means that counsellors with the right kind of skills can be available to support them at such times, and I find it reassuring that we have made this wonderful initiative possible.’
Louth’s new Masonic Hall has come a step closer with the laying of a commemorative foundation stone by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler
The next stage in the building’s history will be the addition of roof trusses, which is expected during September 2019 – writing the next chapter of a story which began in 2010.
Fund Secretary Ian Castledine said: ‘We first looked into moving premises in 2010 when it looked as though we might lose our car parking facilities in Queen Street due to re-development in the town.
‘We looked at several buildings around the town, but could find nothing suitable. Then, due to the ongoing costs of keeping the building in a good state of repair and seeing what the Skegness brethren had achieved we decided to look again.’
Early in 2017 a questionnaire was sent to members of both of Louth’s Craft lodges asking the question: ‘should we stay or should we go?’ The majority was in favour of going, if new premises could be built.
‘We found the current building site in Bolingbroke Road on the Fairfield Industrial Estate, and the owner allowed us to buy it when we had sold existing site and received planning permission,’ added Ian. ‘Our old premises went on the market in 2017 and permission was granted last September.’
Contracts on the old building were exchanged at the end of November, and members moved out. Everything except the lodges’ warrants are in storage and meetings have been taking place principally at Alford and Skegness Centre, but also Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
‘After some unforeseen delays, contracts were exchanged on the new site on 20th February this year, with building due to start on 8th April. In the event, a start wasn’t made until the second week in May, but the building is really taking shape now.’
In a trek of 16 hours and 33 minutes Keith, a member of Astral Lodge in Grimsby, recorded almost 87,000 steps, burned off 4,300 calories, and climbed almost 4,000 feet.
He was following the White Rose Walk, a long-distance walk set up in 1968 by the Yorkshire Wayfarers. Its start point is the Yorkshire village of Kilburn, which he left at 10.20pm bound for Roseberry Topping, a National Trust property in the neighbouring county of Cleveland.
The walk is completed by touching the ‘trig’ point at the summit of Roseberry Topping. By the time he got there Keith had has raised £1,960 for the charity, but had pulled a calf muscle with four miles yet to go. ‘That slowed me considerably,’ he said. ‘But I knew people had committed money, and that thought was my incentive to carry on and make sure I finished the walk.’
Nevertheless, it was ‘job done’, since the objective is to complete the distance in less than 24 hours, which Keith did with time to spare. But the sight that greeted him was really unexpected. ‘At the top of Roseberry Topping there was a group of Royal Marines with a rowing machine raising money for Help the Heroes. I declined to take part,’ he said.
Even though the walk was officially over, Keith still had a couple of miles to go to meet his lift, which whisked him off for a couple of pints of Guinness and a hot bath. ‘But I’m still accepting donations,’ he said. 'I am happy to take a cheque posted to me at 24 Gloria Way, Grimsby DN37 9SW.'
Keith intends to hand over the money to Lifelites raised when he visits Grand Lodge for the next Quarterly Communications meeting in September 2019. The charity donates specialist assistive technology packages for children and young people suffering life-limiting illnesses, allowing them to be creative, control something for themselves and communicate, for as long as it is possible. Every baby and children’s hospice throughout the UK benefits, which means the charity has reached more than 10,000 children.
Freemasons from Crowle in Lincolnshire have supported the work of The Forge Project with a donation of £600
The fundraising effort has been led by Paul Vollans, currently the master of one of Crowle's four lodges, who is a regular volunteer at the centre on Scunthorpe’s Cottage Beck Road.
Open five days a week to support the homeless, the centre provides breakfasts and hot lunches, activities and access to a range of other services.
Demand for its services has doubled over the last three years, said Paul, and his work as a volunteer had encouraged him to get his own Vermuyden Lodge No. 9482 to adopt it as their charity for the year.
Currently providing support for an average 62 people every weekday, the centre is working hard to enhance its premises, a former Methodist church. Plans are afoot for a new kitchen, new flooring throughout, and new windows to make sure the centre continues to be fit for purpose.
Paul said his volunteering work included sorting out clothing donations, work in the kitchen, and just being around to help and provide support. He said: 'Clothing needs to be sorted because people give us inappropriate things. For instance, rough sleepers have no need for a bikini – but they’re still given to us.
‘Chatting to the service users you get to hear their back stories, and realise not only how hard their lives can be, but how well off the rest of us, with homes to go to, really are.’
The masonic involvement organised by Paul involved raffles and a Christmas carol concert. ‘People like to support from a distance. Organising events gives them a conduit to offer support to a service which is having to find ways to adapt its work to meet an ever-growing demand, and one which isn’t going to decline any time soon.'
Paul’s next task was to use his contacts to find a builder to repair a wall at The Forge which had been demolished by when someone drove into it. ‘It shouldn’t be too hard to find a volunteer to do that,’ he said.
‘After all, they already have the bricks. It’s using the right contacts to get small things like this done which helps the hard-working staff here to achieve more with the money they have available.’
A donation of £75,000 from Lincolnshire Freemasons has given a welcome early boost to a relief fund set up in readiness for the rebuilding of homes in and around Wainfleet after the floods
And in a surprise presentation to Steve Hallberg, Provincial Grand Master of Lincolnshire’s Mark Master Masons, the Mark Masons of Cumberland and Westmorland added a further £2,000 to the pot, taking the donation to £77,000.
The fund has been set up by the Lincolnshire Community Foundation, which is bringing together fundraising efforts behind the long-term recovery plan which will swing into action once the floodwaters have receded.
Already there have been about 500 people from a number of agencies working around the clock to provide an emergency response to the incident, which has forced the evacuation of almost 300 homes.
But it’s the recovery phase that will take time, and that’s where the Freemasons’ donation will be directed. Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler said: ‘To see anyone driven from their home by flooding is heartbreaking, especially when it’s in your own community.
‘The emergency response to the incident has been extremely effective through the days after the torrential rainfall followed by the breach of the banks of the River Steeping, but that is only part of the story. The recovery phase will be long, and will take considerable effort.
‘I’m pleased that we have been able to move so quickly in making this donation of £75,000. It underlines that Lincolnshire Freemasons are determined to help put the heart back into this part of Lincolnshire, and we have every confidence that the Lincolnshire Community Foundation will make sure the money is used effectively in making that happen.’
The donation is made up of three Masonic grants of £25,000 each, from The Province of Lincolnshire, the Mark Benevolent Fund, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The latter two are national charities subscribed to by Freemasons all over the country, including those in Lincolnshire.
James Murphy, Joint CEO of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation, said: ‘There are lots of people for whom properties in Wainfleet are their "forever home". We shall be doing what we can to return things to normal for this community. It’s when something like this happens that you find out how good a community is, and Wainfleet’s is particularly strong.
‘The Lincolnshire Community Foundation is working in partnership with the Recovery Coordinating Group to raise funds and support Wainfleet and the surrounding area. Money donated will help to relieve hardship, complete repairs, make good loss or damage, help to prevent the flooding happening again, and to improve the response in the event that it ever does. 100% of donations will be spent in and around Wainfleet.’
To donate online, please go to the Total Giving page at this link.
More than 700 lonely people in North East Lincolnshire are being helped to a better quality of life thanks to the volunteers of charity Friendship at Home, who have been supported with the first instalment of a £15,000 donation from the region’s Freemasons
The charity, based in the Annie Chapple Centre in Aspen Court in Cleethorpes, was set up to reduce loneliness and isolation and improve the quality of life for older people. It offers one-to-one befriending of older people in their own homes, as well as running social mornings and afternoons, exercise activities, telephone befriending and a range of dementia support services including a dementia choir.
Operational Manager Lyse Stephenson said the charity, which supports people over 60, was finding an increase in demand for its services from those with dementia. She said: ‘Dementia cuts people off, and we need to help them to be integrated – but the demand for our services is overwhelming.'
She said the charity was inundated with calls to support group work, adding: ‘It does work so well, but with predictions that one in three of us will suffer problems with dementia, we need more volunteers to meet the huge demand we face.’
Currently there are 175 volunteers, but more are needed, said Lyse. ‘More volunteers would enable us to offer help and support to greater numbers of people – and we have helped thousands in the 13 years the charity has been running.’
Pete Tong is the Freemasons’ Provincial Charity Steward in Lincolnshire. He said: ‘The work of the MCF is an important element of the Freemasons’ support for causes in the community – both masonic and non-masonic. The MCF gave £8.5m to more than 400 charities last year; all of it money given by Freemasons themselves. And we topped that up with more than £100,000 to a further 150 non-masonic good causes in the historic county of Lincolnshire.’
Lyse added: ‘The Freemasons’ donation is so important to us alongside the other funding streams and supporters. It will be used to help us to cover running costs so that we are able to concentrate on the people who matter most – our service users.’
A 16-year-old who secured his Rolls-Royce apprenticeship ahead of almost 6,000 others, through the positive approach to life he learned as a Royal Air Force (RAF) cadet, is an example of what’s being achieved thanks to work led by a Lincolnshire Freemason
He’s Bob Chalklin, currently Master of Daedalus Lodge No. 3843 in the market town of Sleaford in Lincolnshire, which used to be the RAF lodge, and is also the Wing Commander responsible for the RAF dimension of a government initiative to expand the number of cadet units in schools to 500 nationwide.
With the RAF part of the target already exceeded and the project supporting a rolling population of more than 11,000 cadets at any one time, significant benefits are already being realised.
It’s immensely rewarding for Bob and his colleagues in the other Services, who have doubled the number of schools involved over the last eight years; largely funded by ‘reinvesting’ money taken from fines levied on the banks after the LIBOR scandal. Bob said: ‘Doubling the number of schools with cadet units in eight years is quote something significant. The units are open to boys and girls from the Year 8 – but, as the government requested, we have targeted schools outside the traditional area for cadet forces, the independents and grammar schools.
‘The units we have set up are mainly in areas of social deprivation; where high numbers of pupils are on free school meals, for example. These are the schools of pupils whose parents might be earning minimum wage, if they’re employed at all, and so don’t have the wherewithal to pay for their sons and daughters to be involved as once might have been the case, and it’s working. Absenteeism is dropping, discipline is improved, and the cadets engage more effectively with their academic work,' says Bob, who is also a member of Hope Chapter 588.
Bob’s role in setting up new cadet units has been to visit schools and explain the problems that must be faced and the benefits that will be achieved, and interviewing staff to become volunteers. He said: ‘It is a burden for a school, so the Head has to convince me the school really wants to have a unit, which is going to mean extra work for staff, because they’ll be the volunteers who run it with help from RAF permanent staff. It’s like setting up a new department.’
Bob also works on the RAF Air Cadet Leadership Course, which runs for four weeks every summer. It involves 66 (16 and 17-year old) cadets on each of four weeks, building on what they’ve learned in the cadet units and equipping them with the skills to secure Level 3 Certificates in teamwork from the Institute of Leadership Management – a qualification you’d normally expect an adult to apply for, not a 16-year-old.
‘But we are building skills for life,” said Bob. “Through the cadet units these young people learn oral communication, a willingness to talk to someone they have not met, teamwork, problem solving, social awareness, and a spirit of adventure. These are the things people look for in potential employees, and once learned, are skills for life. To see the development of the youngsters in a week on our leadership course is just fantastic and humbling. You might say we’re making good young men and women better.’
Bob’s life in the RAF
Bob was an officer in the RAF Regiment for 33 years, before which he’d been a cadet in school squadron, a civilian instructor and officer volunteer before joining the RAF in 1973. Having retired from RAF Cranwell in 2006 he was asked to apply for a post firstly looking after events for the whole Air Cadet Organisation and then running the RAF part of the Combined Cadet Force. ‘I did that until October 2016 before retiring for a second time, and then in January 2017 was asked to look after the RAF Cadet Expansion Programme, which I’ve been doing part time ever since,’ he said.
Bob’s entry into Freemasonry began with a misunderstanding. He made a remark about the craft when talking about the film The Man Who Would Be King, leading a work colleague to think he was on the square. He said: 'When I told him that I wasn’t, he asked me if I was interested and made the necessary introductions to a friend in Daedalus Lodge.'
Suited but not booted
Although the RAF provides uniforms for its cadets, it doesn’t provide footwear. Bob is currently working on completing uniforms by appealing for masonic donations to cover the cost of appropriate boots, and hopes to talk to Provinces nationwide to explain the position and get their lodges, and neighbouring businesses, to help meet the need. ‘A pair of boot seems a small price to pay as a contribution to the lifetime of benefit that can be achieved,’ he said. In addition, small donations to support the cadets from financially challenged families to attend meaningful training activities and camps can be life changing for them.
The event took place in Spalding, where the Duke had a variety of other engagements during the day. It was hosted by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master David Wheeler and had been arranged at the Masonic Hall at the request of the Lord Lieutenant of the county.
Also in attendance was the President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Richard Hone, who was pleased to accept the donation of £100,000 for the MCF, which marked the start of Lincolnshire’s 2025 Festival.