Tuesday, 11 September 2018 00:00

David Innes looks back on a year of progress

With the MCF receiving 10,000 enquiries  in the last year from Freemasons and their families, Chief Executive David Innes wants to reach out to still more people as the new  masonic season begins

In July, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) held another very successful meeting for its members at the Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. The meeting coincided with a family fun day being held by the Province of Hertfordshire. I’m pleased to report that our MCF members are playing a greater role in helping us assess and monitor the grants we make on your behalf to local charities in your Provinces. 

We are keen to maintain an accurate picture of how our funding is helping vulnerable people in the wider community, and our members are integral in helping us to continue to make and measure the impact of your donations. 

GIVING MORE

This year is proving to be a year of progress. In the first six months of 2018, around 2,700 grants were awarded to Freemasons and their family members facing a financial, health, family or care need, totalling over £5 million. When these figures are compared with 2017’s, we can see that this is a 4 per cent increase in the number of grants awarded and a 23 per cent increase in the value of those grants. In other words, the masonic community is giving more money to more people facing a difficult time in their lives. 

It seems that the message is steadily reaching more Freemasons; their married, life or widowed partners; and their children and grandchildren. Every year that passes, we see an average 3 per cent increase in enquiries for our support. In the last year alone, around 10,000 enquiries have been received – that’s 10,000 Freemasons and their families who are struggling to cope and got in touch to see if the MCF could help. 

MORE QUICKLY

As well as reaching more people, we are constantly striving to show evidence of the impact Freemasons make on people’s lives rather than simply reporting the number of grants awarded and the amount spent. As part of this, a survey was undertaken of all Freemasons and their family members who recently received MCF support. It sought to learn more about the difference the grants and support services have made to their lives and to gather suggestions for improving the experience of accessing support. 

I am very pleased to say that a key finding of our research is that, over the last 15 months, the number of days between processing an enquiry and paying for a grant has decreased significantly, which means the masonic community is getting even better at delivering support to people when they need it.

As the new masonic season begins, you can help us to make a greater impact on even more people by making sure that your brethren and your family members are aware of our services and how we may be able to help. If you or someone in your lodge is facing a financial, health, family or care-related need, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by either calling our freephone helpline on 0800 035 60 90 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We are your charity, and we are here when you need us, for as long as you need us.

‘We are your charity, and we are here when you need us,  for as long as you need us’

Many of us are able to handle life admin – those personal tasks Many of us are able to handle life admin – those personal tasks that need to be completed outside work, such as paying the bills or replying to emails. But these responsibilities can become seriously daunting during difficult times

Whether you’re a single parent struggling to work out your benefit entitlement, a student trying to fund university studies or a full-time carer researching respite care options, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)’s Advice and Support Team is here to help. We have 12 regional advisers to help you access the support you need. The Advice and Support Team can:

  • Assist you with applications for charitable support
  • Talk to you about financial difficulties
  • Recommend the best approach to meet your care needs
  • Support your children or grandchildren with practical advice and guidance on education and well-being
  • Direct you to state and local authority benefits and services available from other organisations

Claire is an Advice and Support Team adviser for the north of England. After a lodge Almoner contacted her about Geoff, a Freemason, Claire arranged a visit with him at his home. 

‘Geoff and his wife, Carol, had such a tragic time with illness and death within the family, and everyone was concerned about their well-being,’ says Claire. ‘My first visit was to work out their support needs, and I realised they were struggling with mobility. So I helped them apply for rise and recline chairs from the MCF.’ 

Geoff, previously unaware that he was eligible for Attendance Allowance from the government, successfully applied. ‘Money seemed irrelevant compared with losing their children or dealing with their health problems, but at least this could help ease their financial pressures a little bit,’ says Claire. 

‘I understand how difficult it is to ask for help, but when you speak to me or another member of the Advice and Support Team, what you say is in confidence. Support can be given in person or over the phone, and we encourage anyone who would like advice, guidance or support to give us a call.’

Last year, the MCF’s Advice and Support Team carried out 964 visits to Freemasons and their families. If you are a member of the masonic community and need advice or support, call 0800 035 60 90 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 00:00

MCF launch new video series 'Helping Hands'

A new video series called Helping Hands sees local Freemasons spend a day volunteering with the local charities that have benefited from the MCF’s funding

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), inspired by stories of Freemasons regularly volunteering to support charitable causes within their local communities, has introduced a new video series called Helping Hands. The series highlights that when it comes to the masonic principle of relief, giving time is just as valuable as giving money. 

In the first episode, Cornwall Freemason Sebastian visited the Conquest Centre to learn about the charity’s equine activities for people with disabilities or disadvantages. He met beneficiaries and helped to collect eggs, groom horses and volunteer in the café on the farm. 

More recently, London Freemason and keen guitarist Tony travelled to Norwich to take part in a music and movement session for young adults with a wide range of disabilities and additional needs. The charity running the session, Musical Keys, recently received an MCF grant of £5,000 and was thrilled to welcome Tony along for the day.

‘It’s so important to us that Freemasons see how their funding can genuinely impact the lives of people within their communities,’ explained Musical Keys manager Alison. ‘It is well known that Freemasons have always been, and continue to be, incredibly generous with their funding for local and national charities, so for Tony to give us his time and join in with his guitar is a brilliant added bonus.’ 

Look out for more Helping Hands episodes over the next few months. Follow the MCF on social media or subscribe to its YouTube channel so you never miss a video: 

YouTube: youtube.com/masoniccharitablefoundation 
Twitter: @Masonic_Charity
Facebook: theMCF
Instagram: @masonic_charity

Young people in Leicester not in employment, education or training (NEETS) are to be helped into work thanks to a £35,000 grant from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons

Around 250 young NEETs between the ages of 11-24, many of whom are also homeless, involved in substance misuse and crime, will be helped by TwentyTwenty through their Journey to Work programme over three years.

These are young disadvantaged people who have failed at school, through being excluded or not being able to engage with mainstream education. They exist in a demoralised state, feeling neglected and without a meaningful future. Being able to come to TwentyTwenty they will gain not only the maths, English and employability skills they need to find and keep a good job but also the vision and confidence to go out and get one.

Young people who come to TwentyTwenty face a wide range of personal and social needs: poor physical and mental health, learning disabilities (many on the autistic spectrum), caring responsibilities (including teenage motherhood), lack of decent housing, family criminality, gross economic disadvantage, low level drug addiction and a complete lack of societal or family support.

Through intensive one-to-one support from a Journey to Work Coach and Tutor, the young people will undergo an eight-month programme of education, life and work skills, work experience and counselling. These will prepare them for either work or further education, during which they will be supported by volunteer mentors.

Mark Vyner, CEO from TwentyTwenty said: 'We’re very grateful for this generous grant from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, which will allow us to help hundreds of young people to turn their lives around and see a real reduction in the numbers of local people without jobs.'

The grant from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help TwentyTwenty who are doing outstanding work giving hope and practical help to young people who have had a terrible start in life, by breaking the cycle of worklessness.'

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.

Disabled young people at Chailey Heritage Foundation in East Sussex have received a significant boost to their planned state-of-the-art DREAM Centre, following a £25,000 grant from Sussex Freemasons

The Charity launched a £3.1 million appeal in 2016 to replace their ageing 1950s hall with a building large enough for children and young people with complex disabilities to participate in a mixture of arts and physical activities. Wheelchair football, power chair driving, trampolining, drama and dance will all be on offer alongside a sensory four dimensional experience, which will allow children to be ‘transported’ to different countries and experience sights and sounds from around the world.

The D.R.E.A.M (dynamic, real, experiential, amazing, magical) Centre is the latest chapter in the story of the Chailey Heritage Foundation, which has been changing the lives of young people with disabilities since 1903. 

The grant from Sussex Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Maurice Adams, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Sussex, said: 'We are delighted to support Chailey Heritage Foundation with their appeal and look forward to seeing the D.R.E.A.M Centre in action when it opens in 2019.'

Ellie, a pupil at Chailey Heritage School, is a competitive child and typical of the young people who will benefit from the new facilities. This new indoor space will also house the powered wheelchair driving school which will benefit many of the young people who are learning to drive.

Carol, a teacher at Chailey Heritage School, who has been helping Ellie to reach her full potential, said: 'Thanks to Sussex Freemasons and all the other generous donors, the D.R.E.A.M. Centre will make it possible for Ellie and her friends to have a space large enough to play competitive sports and perform to friends and family on the purpose-built stage along with lots of other opportunities.'

Sally-Anne Murray, Development Director of Chailey Heritage Foundation said: 'We are enormously grateful for this grant. We rely on organisations like Sussex Freemasons to help us provide the ground-breaking facilities that really enrich the lives of those we care for.'

Milton Keynes Food Bank has received a donation of £3,000 from Buckinghamshire Freemasons

A certificate for the funds, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), was presented by Andrew Hough, MCF representative, and Mike Clanfield, Provincial Charity Steward for Buckinghamshire.

Milton Keynes Food Bank is an independent charity established to provide local families and individuals with essential food supplies at a time when they need it most, covering the days or sometimes weeks before other parts of the social care infrastructure can come into play.

The grant received has been used towards the transportation costs for the charity's gifted vehicles, which are used for delivering the emergency food parcels to their 12 serving centres across Milton Keynes.

Dorothy Barley Infant School in Dagenham is to receive dedicated, specialist support to help improve outcomes for vulnerable children and give them a better start in life, thanks to national charity Achievement for All and Essex Freemasons

A grant of £5,000 from Essex Freemasons, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), will allow Achievement for All to work with staff at Dorothy Barley to assist pupils to achieve greater potential in life by helping to lay down firm and positive aspirations to learn and succeed. The programme, which also involves parents and staff, has been proven to give youngsters the support they need, particularly in the early years

The £5,000 grant is part of a much larger grant of £240,000 given by Freemasons to 53 schools in England and Wales through Achievement for All’s award-winning Achieving Schools programme.

Achievement for All is a leading not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with early years settings, schools and colleges, improving outcomes for all children and young people regardless of their background, challenge or need.

The grant will provide subsidised access to the Achieving Schools programme, which dramatically enhances the goals and outcomes of pupils and addresses the issues faced by children and staff though four key areas: leadership, teaching and learning, wider outcomes and opportunities, and parent and carer engagement. Schools who have benefited from this programme to date have seen a positive impact on the development of teaching, increased pupil attendance as well as improved confidence amongst pupils in their own abilities to achieve.

Christine James, Headteacher at Dorothy Barling, said: 'The grant will make a huge difference to this school. It will enable us to work closely with Achievement for All to identify children and parents in need of support and most importantly provide the time needed to concentrate on those youngsters that need it most.

'This school is very much part of the local community with parents who give us considerable support but we have some who need help and this money will enable us to make a difference.'

Colin Felton, Provincial Communications Officer for Essex Freemasons, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to help Achievement for All with their excellent programme at Dorothy Barling.

'Freemasons are very much part of the community and our 10,000 members are actively raising money for the MCF to ensure that grants to schools and other local charities can be made on a regular basis. We are delighted to be able to help this incredible initiative work in Dagenham.

'Developing children’s core strength and resilience can improve confidence and engage children in learning. By supporting these pupils now we can play an important part in helping them make the most of their education.'

Find out more about the £5,000 donation – watch this short video.

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes was the guest of honour at the conclusion of the Nottinghamshire 2018 Festival, which raised over £2.6 million for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys

Festival President Philip Marshall, the Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire, presented a cheque to the Pro Grand Master for £2,645,907, which was raised by Nottinghamshire Freemasons over the six years of the festival appeal.

The day started with a celebration for young people. Children’s charities supported by Nottinghamshire Freemasons were invited to a spectacular outdoor event, free of charge, in the grounds of Kelham Hall near Newark. Over 1,000 people attended the event which included riding for the disabled, face painting, craft workshops, fairground rides and bouncy castles. The young people enjoyed a day of fun in a safe environment which was marshalled by Freemasons and the Nottinghamshire Scouts.

The evening celebration was attended by Freemasons from Nottinghamshire who had generously supported the 2018 Festival. A drinks reception in the late afternoon sunshine was followed by a banquet held in the Great Hall and Carriage Court of Kelham Hall. Over 560 Freemasons and their partners attended along with Freemasons from the surrounding Provinces and leaders of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Following a series of speeches by the leaders of the Festival and VIP’s, the Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Les Hutchinson, revealed the Festival total to the expectant gathering. He explained that the amount raised of £963 per member was the second highest ‘per-capita’ figure raised in any Masonic Festival – and second only to Nottinghamshire’s total from their previous Festival.

The incredible six year period of fundraising was concluded with a spectacular concert. World renowned girls’ choir Cantamus started the concert with enchanting performances of popular music tracks.

The girls were followed by Jasmine Ellcock, a recipient of support from The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and finalist in Britain’s Got Talent 2016. The concert, and Festival, was then brought to an appropriate crescendo by the winners of Britain’s Got Talent 2014, Collabro.

A donation of over £61,000 from Lincolnshire Freemasons will support the Linkage Community Trust in its work to help people with learning difficulties to get into work

The £61,236 grant, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, will allow the Trust and the University of Lincoln to work with partners from the statutory and voluntary sectors to create an online support tool that, over the next few years, is expected to help hundreds of users develop Individualised Career Action Plans.

Linkage has been committed to supporting individuals with a learning disability and or autism to develop their independence for more than four decades. Although much progress has been made in many areas such as social integration, independent living and education, access to employment remains a huge challenge. Linkage sees employment as a key to independence and a major contributor to health and well-being.

Rex Richardson, Director of Care Services at Linkage, said: 'Getting people with autism and/or learning disabilities into employment can be complex and challenging. To do it successfully requires a planned and personalised approach, with all partners working together to achieve an identified and shared goal.

'Research shows that the benefits of employment for people with autism or learning disabilities can be immense, improving independence, well-being, reducing isolation and promoting better mental health - as well as providing many employers with a loyal and productive employee.'

It is estimated that there are around 7,500 individuals with autism in Lincolnshire. Data on employment figures for people with autism in Lincolnshire is limited, but national figures suggest only 15 per cent of adults with an autistic spectrum condition are in full time employment.

Mr Richardson added: 'We’re very grateful to Lincolnshire Freemasons for their generous support. This project is about bringing together organisations who share our commitment with the University of Lincoln to develop individualised career development plans which are comprehensive and efficient, which can identify their strengths and support them and employers in enabling disabled individuals to gain employment and to make an important contribution to the workforce.'

Graham Ives, Provincial Grand Master of Lincolnshire, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help the Linkage Community Trust, which is doing outstanding work supporting people with learning disabilities find employment. This not only provides enormous benefits to the job seekers, but also to local employers who obtain loyal and productive employees.'

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