To tackle daily problems caused by loneliness and isolation, such as financial hardship, decline in physical or mental well-being or life transitions including retirement and bereavement, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) launched a £1 million three-year partnership with Age UK in 2018 to fund a new project called ‘Later Life Goals’
Thanks to this project, Age UK advisers have been helping older people identify their goals for later life. So far, the project has supported over 2,370 older people.
There are 3.6 million older people in the UK, of whom over two million are over 75 years of age and live alone. The downside effects of loneliness on human body is equivalent to harm caused by 15 cigarettes a day which makes it even worse than obesity.
Research over loneliness shows that it is associated with a 50% increase in mortality from any cause. According to Age UK, it is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension, psychological stress and mental health problems.
Age UK Solihull in Warwickshire, one of 13 branches in this project, has been working closely with Knowle Masonic Centre (KMC). During the summer, Keith Reynolds, Deputy Chairman of KMC, presented Anne Hastings, CEO of Age UK Solihull, the certificate sent by MCF granting £63,000 as part of the 3-year partnership. The level of co-operation between KMC and Age UK Solihull goes even beyond funding projects. KMC had gladly welcomed Age UK Solihull to have their regular meetings and social gatherings at KMC’s premises.
Futhermore, Age UK Solihull has initiated a significant service called ‘Linking People Together’ which aims at promoting individual independence, confidence and well-being. The service calls on volunteers to visit and befriend older people in their local areas. Volunteers are expected to create a personal connection with an older person who could be homebound or suffering from a long-term disease or having no family living locally. Volunteers can befriend someone either by phoning at an agreed time for a chat or by visiting them at their home.
It is also possible to accompany them to an activity or appointment. KMC is delighted to be part of this partnership and committed to support Age UK Solihull. To contribute the project, members of the KMC are encouraged to participate with their families.
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.'
80 members from Cambridgeshire and its neighbouring Provinces attended an Emergency Meeting of the Cambridgeshire Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge No. 9927 on 19th September for a unique event within the history of the Province – their Provincial Grand Master William Dastur was the Candidate for Initiation
The acting officers for the ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall in Cambridge were members of 10 out of the Province's 30 lodges, who had made the highest bids to participate.
A very enjoyable evening saw the acting officers (and the Initiate) perform an impeccable ceremony and raise a total of well over £2,500 for Cambridgeshire's Festival 2023, in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
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.’
The summer break may have seen many Freemasons relaxing and enjoying the fine weather, but David Macey, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire, had other ideas when he decided to jump out of a plane to raise £11,000 for charity
The Province of Warwickshire is in the early stages of its 2023 Festival and working hard to raise money to support the excellent work of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Provincial Grand Master is always one to lead from the front, which led him to search for an opportunity to raise a healthy sum of money for the Festival whilst aiming to inspire the Province to hit and exceed the Festival target.
Jumping from a perefectly serviceable aircraft seemed a suitable way to raise the profile of the Festival to new heights, so early in 2019 the plans were laid and preparations for a summer skydive commenced. David set himself an ambitious target of £10,000, with confidence that the members of Warwickshire would rise to the occasion.
Finally the day came and David, with a band of supporters, fought through difficult driving conditions to Langar Airfield in Nottinghamshire hoping for a break in the weather to give enough time for the jump to happen.In spite of hopes and optimism, the wind and rain thwarted the first attempt and it was not safe to jump.
Several weeks went by with the excitement and trepidation growing, until in July 2019 a window in the weather was found and the team made their way to Nottinghamshire once again. This time conditions were perfect. David completed his training and his instructor chosen, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd, with the Provincial Grand Master being rather tall and his instructor much less so, once in tandem, the instructors feet would never touch the floor.
The jump was an experience of a lifetime, with David's first words on landing being, 'I've got to do that again', although his wife Sandra didn't seem so sure. The exhilaration of the skydive was only increased as the fundraising soared past the target, finishing with £11,000 going to the Festival and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The full video of the skydive can be seen here.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is delighted to be taking part in the world’s largest architecture festival Open House London on 21st and 22nd September 2019 at its headquarters Freemasons’ Hall – offering visitors architectural tours, fun family activities and access to the Museum of Freemasonry
Open House London gives free public access to over 800 buildings, walks, talks and tours over one weekend in September each year. The event started 25 years ago with the first Open House London in 1992 and gives free access to London’s best buildings as a way of inspiring the public about the benefits of great design.
Freemasons’ Hall, in Covent Garden, is renowned as one of the finest Art Deco buildings in London still used for its original purpose and will be opening on both days of the event this year from 10am to 5pm.
Some of the many highlights will be Bright Bricks models, with lots of opportunities for children to get creative and design miniatures of their own, and an exciting kids’ trail featuring a make-an-apron station. There will be Freemasons in regalia in the magnificent Grand Temple to answer any questions the public have about Freemasonry, whilst the Masonic Charitable Foundation will have a stand to provide an overview of the support given to communities and deserving causes throughout the country.
The Museum of Freemasonry will be also open, displaying one of the world’s largest collections associated with Freemasonry, including Winston Churchill’s apron and the large throne made for the future King George IV, who was Royal Grand Master from 1790-1813.
Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive, said: 'We’re excited once again to be taking part in Open House London this autumn and offering thousands of visitors the opportunity to see the stunning Art Deco interior of our building.
'Freemasons’ Hall is always free to the public, but for this event we are putting on some extra attractions, with Freemasons in regalia to answer all your questions, a Bright Bricks ‘Make and Take’ activity for children and guided tours every 90 minutes, which showcase the architecture and history of the building and will include a newly commissioned 10-minute film.'
You can find out more about what’s on at Freemasons’ Hall during Open House London here.
After six years of fundraising, Richard Hone, President of the masonic Charitable Foundation, announced at the Province of Bristol's Festival Ball that they had achieved a total in excess of one million pounds
With over 600 people in attendance at Ashton Gate, which included UGLE’s Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, it was a hugely successful, enjoyable extravaganza and celebrated the completion of the appeal in true Bristol fashion.
Richard Hone said: ‘This is an outstanding result which equates to an average per head of £829 – the seventh highest across all Provinces. This could only have been achieved by the support, sheer hard work and endeavour of so many members in every lodge.’
The intention at the start of the festival was to raise enough money to put back into the charities an amount equal to that received in the Bristol Province by members and their dependants since the last festival – this figure does that and exceeds the target by over £200,000.
Steve Bennett, Festival Chairman, said: ‘Most of the lodges and all chapters exceeded expectations by raising amounts well beyond that asked of them and in some instances achieved incredibly higher totals.
‘The Province-wide support was critical to achieving a seven-figure total and the magnificent donations received from our own Provincial Charity, the Bristol Masonic Benevolent Institute, was amazing. The Mark Degree, Bristol Masonic Charitable Trust and the many associations and clubs were unstinting in their support.
‘The personal endeavours of many members to make a difference have been humbling – Bill Doody running seven marathons in seven consecutive days; Tony Griffiths and Brian Yeatman cycling from John O’Groats to Lands’ End; Alin Achim competing in the Iron Man Competition are just a few of the hundreds of events – large and small – which have raised money in support of The Festival Masonic Samaritan Fund.’
Steve said it was impossible for him to conclude his time as Festival Chairman without a ‘massive thank you to the members of the Festival Committee who had worked so hard and tirelessly during the six years of the appeal, and the year prior.'
Having seen Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark put through 26 miles of intense rowing along the River Thames to raise £7,000 for charity back in June 2019, two double kayaks used for the challenge have now been donated
John Clark completed the challenge alongside Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie to raise the money in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The kayaks they used on the day have now been handed over to the Jubilee River Riverside Centre to help people with disabilities get on the water.
As a result of the initial donation from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund, in conjunction with the Slough Masonic Centre, the Jubilee River Riverside Centre have applied for further funding for additional Kayaks designed specifically for people with disabilities.
Moving forwards, the Slough Masonic Centre plan to work closely with the Riverside Centre to help with its work in sports, youth work and for tackling environmental issues.
If you would like to support The Paddle Challenge you can donate by clicking here.
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.’
Up to 60 children who are struggling due to trauma such as bereavement, family breakdown, bullying or domestic abuse will now receive help from Clear Sky Children’s Charity thanks to a £15,000 grant from Berkshire Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation
The charity currently operates in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire and offer one to one support for children and joint play therapy sessions with children and their parents. They also support the wellbeing of children in schools by producing resources to train and support teachers so that they can help the children they teach.
Anna Hodgson, Captain of Clear Sky, said: 'Our children are facing a mental health crisis and we know how to help. Our aim is for all children to be happy, love life and enjoy school. This grant will enable us to provide one to one play and creative arts therapy for up to 60 children over the next three years.
'For every £1 spent on early intervention, it saves society £15 in the future. We are grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their support in helping us towards our £80,000 fundraising target.'
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the leader of Berkshire Freemasons, said: 'I am pleased that the Masonic Charitable Foundation have recognised the important contribution Clear Sky make to the wellbeing of children in our area and that this grant will be used to make a difference in young peoples’ lives. I encourage teachers to contact the charity as there will be children in your schools who would benefit from the support they offer.'
Maurice Dixon, who leads the newly proposed Didcot Masonic Lodge, and Keith Winterbone who leads Ingham Clark Lodge, visited the charity to find out more about their work and were treated to an example of play therapy by Becky Hill, Head of Therapeutic Thinking.
Maurice said: 'I have worked with young people and schools for many years and recognise that children face huge disadvantages if they do not receive help early on. Sophia (CEO “Chief of Enthusiasm & Optimism” and founder) has created a highly qualified team with a breadth of experience and the Didcot lodges are delighted to be able to support this local charity.'
Individuals and fundraisers can support the charity by going to their website here and making a donation.