Earlier this year West Lancashire Freemasons donated £20,000 to St Mary’s Hospice to support its ‘Make Do and Mend’ initiative and in August 2018 they readily accepted an invitation to visit the workshop and see the progress that has been made
‘A huge success that has more than met our expectations’, were the words of Lynsey Lawson, who is the team leader for family and bereavement support at St Mary’s Hospice in Furness, when she was asked for her views on the ‘Make Do and Mend’ initiative.
The scheme was able to be implemented due to a grant of £20,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which enabled an unused corner of the premises to be developed into a suitable work space.
The aim of the scheme is to provide a chance for bereaved men and women to come together to share their experiences and, ultimately, to help each other through their loss. The initial idea for the scheme arose from discussions on how best to connect with those bereaved people who found it uncomfortable to access the already available support and counselling. Experience shows that this relates mainly, but not exclusively, to men.
Head of Clinical Services Jo Blake explained: ‘It was thought that providing an opportunity for them to get together with people in the same position and to work together in upcycling donated furniture may be a possible way forward. A blueprint for the program was drawn up and an application was submitted to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for the funds needed to get the scheme up and running. We are very grateful that our bid was successful.’
West Lancashire Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger, along with Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield and local charity steward Richard Wilcock, recently had the pleasure of visiting the workshop and meeting some of the users.
After speaking with members of the hospice team, as well as some of those benefitting from the scheme, David commented: ‘It is superb to see our charitable funds being put to such marvellous use. It is often said, when accepting donations from lodges for the MCF that we thank the lodge on behalf of the recipients who they will never know or see.
'To hear first-hand of the difference the scheme is already making to the lives of others in helping them through the grieving process is really quite touching. It brings home the true ethos of charitable giving which is at the heart of our wonderful fraternity.’
One of those who has engaged with the program is George Last whose wife Linda passed away at the hospice Christmas time 2017. George was happy to talk about the benefits of ‘Make Do and Mend.’ George observed: ‘I come down once a week and have found it really beneficial. The company and the overall community feel of the workshop have helped me to come out of myself. I look forward to getting out of the house to come along and work on the cabinet I am recycling.
'It is self-supporting as we are all in the same boat. One of the other users has become a firm friend and we go for a coffee and a chat together after each session. I now have the confidence to go along with my daughter to the coffee evening which the hospice host on a Thursday evening. It has made a real difference to my life.’
The workshops are run on informal lines with a bereavement counsellor always on hand, but not obtrusively so. Such is the demand that the present sessions and the next series of sessions are fully booked.
But it is not only men who benefit. Olivia Armistead found it difficult to cope with the loss of all four of her grandparents in a short space of time. Olivia attends the workshop and took pride in showing Peter Schofield the kitchen cabinet she was working on as she told him how much the scheme had helped her.