South Wales Freemasons have provided £22,500 to supply food for those in need in the local community. This funding has provided daily cooked meals to households and weekly supplies to foodbanks, to help minimise the daily pressure on households across south Wales
During the Covid-19 pandemic, which has not only been a period of lockdown but also of employment and financial insecurity for many, a lot of families are struggling to put food on the table. The elderly and vulnerable are unable to get to the shops, and many of those effected by the winter floods are still living without adequate cooking facilities.
Since starting its “Square Deals” programme in April, the South Wales Freemasons have provided and delivered over 2,500 cooked meals to individuals and households in Cardiff, Penarth, Caerphilly and the south Wales valleys. These are prepared and cooked by the catering staff at Cardiff Masonic Hall and Church Village Caterers, Abercynon, both of whom have given their time free-of-charge to support this cause. The meals are delivered, safely, by a team of 75 volunteer freemason drivers.
Eleven foodbanks throughout south Wales have also been supported on a weekly basis, by the South Wales Freemasons, with food donations amounting to more than £5,000. The foodbanks supplied include: St. Teilo’s Church- in-Wales School, Cardiff; Twyn Community Hub, Merthyr; Taff’s Well Village Hall, Taff’s Well; Trussell Trust Bridgend; Fforest Lodge Hub, Treharris; St. Luke’s Church, Pontypridd; Butetown Community Centre, Cardiff (covering Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan); Neath and Swansea and a newly established foodbank at Penpedairheol community centre, Caerphilly.
Mike Philips, Chair of the Taff’s Well Village Hall, said: 'Though the pandemic has caused catastrophic problems for many residents in the Taff’s Well and Nantgarw communities, the response from the Freemasons during our hour of need has been truly unbelievable. The one thing I have learnt from these recent events has been in times of hardship, how community spirit kicks in. At the end of the day it’s all about people taking care of people and for this we cannot thank you enough.'
Mrs Kay Thurston, a local resident from Penpedairheol, said: 'Thank you so much for my sister’s food parcel, she was over the moon and it’s very much appreciated. She is a recovering breast cancer patient, and a few weeks ago fell down her stairs and cracked a bone in her back. She was working but is now unemployed so every little helps.'
Hilary Brown, from the Butetown Community Centre, said: 'I would like to convey our sincere gratitude for the amount of help that has been given by the South Wales Freemasons to support many vulnerable people during this Covid-19 pandemic. The food donations have been distributed to families all over Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, and the provision of healthy meals to twenty needy people in Butetown and to eleven families who are vulnerable and with children with life limiting illnesses, have been most appreciated. Your efforts and commitment to help the most vulnerable and often invisible people in our society is immeasurable, and words fail to convey the difference you have made in the lives of many.'
Alan Gardener, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the South Wales Freemasons and coordinator of these initiatives, said: 'The South Wales Freemasons are glad to be able to help our local communities at this time, and support with providing hot meals and food supplies to those who need them most.'