News

26th August 2021

To help more than 1.4 million people experiencing mental health issues,
Freemasons in Suffolk and across England are donating more than £550,000

Many people are reaching crisis point with their mental health due to the pandemic. According to NHS Prevalence Data 2020, one in six young people have a probable mental disorder, while the Young Minds Survey 2020 found 83% of young people said the pandemic had made their mental health worse. To help the population exit the pandemic in a better state of mental health, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales, are supporting various institutions, schools and universities.

In Suffolk our Provincial Grand Almoner has appointed a dedicated Wellbeing lead, Tony Wooderson, who is able to advise the Provincial Group Almoner Team on a variety of mental health issues. Through Tony, being manager of two teams within Suffolk Mind, NHS Staff Support Line and Suffolk Work Well, we have forged links with Suffolk Mind who provide a variety of mental health services and training for both individuals and organisations. All Group Almoners have received specialist “Needs Met” training from Suffolk Mind. We have directed vulnerable members to the MCF Counselling Care Line and have encouraged an open door approach for all members who need support. Tony will be visiting Lodges throughout the Province to talk about how to maintain positive mental health. 
 
Among the institutions receiving support, the Freemasons are donating £125,000 to Young Minds to help them to support approximately 1.4 million young people. The goal is to increase Young Minds’ reach by 10% and help many more young people find the support they need, when they need it, and be able to take practical, actionable steps to improve their mental health. The donation will enable the project to proactively recruit more young Black people and disabled people, to diversify Young Minds’ pool of bloggers to expand the experiences and voices on the website. The idea is to create more content on racism and mental health, as well as for those living with bipolar disorder.

The UGLE and the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s (MCF) - the Freemasons’ charity - donations will also help 100,000 children and young people across the UK to access information, support and guidance online. In addition, the donation will help to develop and pilot the Suicide Safer Schools programme in three to five schools in west Cumbria, supporting 1,000 young people and 500 parents, teachers and staff, by raising awareness of suicide prevention, understanding help-seeking behaviour, and training selected staff in suicide intervention. In a separate project, the Freemasons also aim to reach 800 young people in London, who will benefit from better understanding about the prevention of young suicide through volunteers running awareness-raising events in their local communities.

Elsewhere, 2,188 children and young people through three projects will be supported with mentoring and skills workshops. About 270 parents/staff will receive awareness workshops and support, while 270 young people will be trained as peer mentors. The Freemasons’ donations will also support at least 600 teachers, professionals and parents, who will be provided with support through three projects offering mental health first aid training, learning events and parental support, and this will in turn will help 25,000 children and young people. The support will also fund seven projects to help 1,780 children and young people with counselling and group therapy, while 40 parents and carers will also benefit. Elsewhere, 100 young men with mental health issues will benefit from a project offering weekly talking group sessions.

During almost two years of the pandemic, Freemasons have donated millions of pounds to support people in need. They have donated many tonnes of food, tablets for hospitals, ambulances and PPE, as well as supporting carers, women’s refuges, care homes, hospitals, hospices and funds for NHS workers. In 2020, the Freemasons total charitable donations topped £51 million. In addition, Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, as well as producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.

Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: “The pandemic has been devastating and mental health is a very important topic to us and our members. During the pandemic, thousands of Freemasons supported people in their communities, preventing mental health problems and supporting many families. This issue must be one of our priorities and we are joining forces to keep the population safe and feeling well. "The UGLE has carefully chosen the institutions we are supporting, focusing on those with important objectives to achieve in the areas of tackling racism, mental health issues, living with bipolar disorder and prevention of young suicide. We need to do everything we can to help as many people as possible.” In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing Covid-19 crisis response. Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners, while £715,000 is earmarked to support adult, young and parent carers.

Livia Ferreira, public relations manager, United Grand Lodge of England. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9208

7th July 2021

Families on brink of famine in South Sudan receive emergency support funded by Suffolk Freemasons
 
 
Hundreds of families on the brink of famine in South Sudan will be receiving emergency support thanks to a grant of £35,000 from Freemasons to Plan International UK.
 
Freemasonry, through the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), is responding with Plan International to support communities at this critical time. £35,000 is enough to provide cooking kits to 525 families. Plan International is on the ground in Pibor, one of the worst affected regions, delivering vital programmes for nutrition, education, livelihoods, and child protection.
 
The UN has described South Sudan’s food crisis as its “worst on record”, with children and communities facing multiple threats at once. Late last year, heavy flooding affected over a million people in the country, destroying homes, devastating livelihoods and displacing thousands of children and their families. On top of this communities are still reeling from the pandemic, as well as political upheavals, escalating conflictand a stagnating economy.
 
With the country in the middle of its ‘lean season - the time between harvests when households run out of stored food - there is now a critical window to prevent the onset of famine. Lasting from March until August, the lean season will see 7.2 million, or 60 per cent of the population, pushed into extreme hunger. 1.4 million children under the age of five and almost 500,000 pregnant and lactating women are expected to be left severely malnourished. It is crucial that aid reaches these communities before the floods come again, further hindering access to support for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
 
Suffolk Freemasons contributed to the grant, from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. Rose Caldwell, Chief Executive of Plan InternationalUK, said: “We’re very grateful for this generous grant which will allow Plan International to reach families and young children in those parts of South Sudan most badly hit by the food crisis. It’s critical that we act now to distribute food and other vital support to those most at risk”
 
Rick Orme of Suffolk Freemasons commented “I am very pleased we’ve been able to help PlanInternational, who are distributing food to the most vulnerable families and children in South Sudan. This is a desperate situation and PlanInternational and the other organisations helping on the ground need all the help and support we can offer.”
 
For further information about the Masonic Charitable Foundation visit www.mcf.org.uk

July 2nd 2021

SUFFOLK FREEMASONS TAKE LEAD ROLE IN NHS FRONTLINE WORKERS’ DAY

The inaugural celebration of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day is set to take place on 5 July 2021, with Freemasons in Suffolk having organised events across the county in Bury St. Edmunds, Diss, Felixstowe, Framlingham, Halesworth, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Saxmundham, Stowmarket, Southwold, Sudbury and Woodbridge.

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons, is inviting its 200,000 members to fly specially designed flags at 10am on 5 July, to celebrate this unique day dedicated to the NHS, social care and all those that work on the front line, who have saved so many lives during the pandemic. The celebration will also remember those workers we sadly lost.

As part of the event, the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) scheme, managed by the Freemasons, produced a limited edition of TLC teddy nurse badges to be given to medical staff that use the bears in their day-to-day work. Some 48 provinces across England and Wales took part in the campaign and distributed them to NHS staff.

Suffolk Freemasons have been donating teddy bears to NHS accident and emergency units for 20 years. Almost 3.5 million teddies have been donated to hospitals, minor injuries clinics and other NHS services to comfort young children during times of distress. Many Freemasons also volunteer hundreds of hours each year to manage the scheme, deliver bears to hospitals, campaign to raise funds and increase awareness through events and talks.

The UGLE is one of the core supporters of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day, alongside the Cadet Forces, English Heritage and the Women’s Institute. A £5 donation from every flag and length of bunting made will be equally divided between NHS Charities Together and the National Care Association.

Freemasonry for Women and the Order of Women Freemasons have also joined the UGLE in this initiative, as Freemasons aim to set a record for the number of flags raised simultaneously across the nation.

Subsequently, at 11am, the UGLE headquarters in Great Queen Street will be raising the flag and a trumpeter will play the last post. At the same time, Freemasons are planning a moment’s silence to remember NHS workers and all those who died from Covid-19. The day continues with a toast to the NHS at 1pm. After this, they will be raising a cuppa to the NHS during afternoon tea at 4pm.

At 8pm, the Freemasons will join the nation in an evening clap for NHS workers, while church bells are set to ring 73 times to celebrate 73 years of the NHS. Closing the celebrations at 9pm, there will be a #timetotoast for all NHS workers. So far, nearly 130 Lodges and Provinces have made a commitment to the raising of the flag and other elements of the day.

Bruno Peek, pageant master to the Queen and creator of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day, said: “We are delighted that Freemasons, whose members come from all walks of life, are playing such a high-profile and active role to start this special day of celebration and commemoration of those within the NHS, social care and on the front line, who undertake so much for us all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year, without any thought of their own safety.” 

In addition, Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE and a consultant in acute internal medicine at Peterborough Hospital, said: “We are facing the greatest global pandemic in living memory and the NHS has never been so tested in its history. Its staff have been stretched beyond comprehension during the last year and they deserve our gratitude, our applause and all the support we can give. “We are encouraging not only our 200,000 members, but the entire population to celebrate the day honouring and remembering NHS workers with a complete programme of events on 5 July.”

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Freemasons have been supporting the NHS in many different ways. They have donated more than £2.5m so far to the Covid-19 effort and completed 18.5 million hours of volunteering to help those in need each year. The donation is being used to help with food, personal protective equipment, supplements for hospitals and hospices, funds for NHS workers and ambulances.

To find out more about NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day and to register your participation in the event, please visit: www.nhsfrontlineday.org