Friday 21st October

Ipswich children with additional needs and disabilities to receive help and support
thanks to Suffolk Freemasons

Local children with conditions such as autism and cerebral palsy will be able to access specially designed playgroups thanks to a grant from Suffolk Freemasons to the Ipswich Opportunity Group charity. The £4,000 grant will help the charity continue to run three groups per week for their clients. Monday morning is for the very young and more vulnerable children, Monday afternoon and Friday morning are for the older children up to five years old. These are held at the Salvation Army Hall on Woodbridge Road. Families attend one session a week with up to 10 children at each session.

During the sessions the charity provide appropriate play activities including creative, constructive and physical play. They use a variety of communication methods to engage the children, including signing, photos and the Picture Exchange Communication System. Ipswich Opportunity Group is a registered charity set up in 1991 to support families who have pre-school children with a wide range of special needs/disabilities, including physical, sensory and learning difficulties. It is managed by a voluntary management committee which includes parents and professionals. They support 40-50 pre-school age children annually, as well as their siblings and parents. Children can stay until the age of five, which is when they transition into primary school or other education settings.

Parents benefit from having time to socialise together, and share their lived experiences; providing guidance, support and friendship to one another. Having a disabled child can be very isolating as the children have such high dependency needs they have to be supervised at all times. Some of the children have mobility problems and are unable to move on their own which means parents and carers do not have any time to themselves increasing their isolation. The children benefit from socialising with other children in a safe environment. Many of the children supported can be disadvantaged because of their disabilities and their opportunities within their community and within society are limited.

Many of the children Ipswich Opportunity Group work with have a number of professionals involved, and the charity is able to support both the children and their families to work towards their goals – whether it is speech and language or occupational therapy. The multisensory approach and specialist provision enable a consistent holistic and therapeutic service. A supportive service at the beginning of a long and difficult journey for parents and children who are often overlooked elsewhere. All sessions are provided by experienced and qualified Play Workers and supported by trained and DBS checked volunteers. The Ipswich Opportunity Group is registered with Ofsted and follows the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. The grant from Suffolk Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Cheryl King, Co-ordinator of the Ipswich Opportunity Group, said: “We’re very grateful to Suffolk Freemasons for their generous grant, which will support our work with pre-school children with additional needs and disabilities. It’s clear that parents of children attending our groups notice a significant improvement in their child’s engagement and communication skills, which are critically important as they move into formal education.”  Kelvin Avis from Suffolk Freemasons, added:“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help the Ipswich Opportunity Group with their hugely important sessions for children with these conditions. The sessions help not only the children but also their parents who can become isolated as a result of their caring duties.”

About Ipswich Opportunity Group Ipswich Opportunity Group is a support group for families who have pre-school aged children with additional needs/disabilities. We provide appropriate play activities for the children in a large playroom as well as support for parents/carers who stay for sessions. Parent/carers have the opportunity for some time to themselves in a quiet room while staff and volunteers look after the children. As well as staff supporting parents, parents are also very supportive of each other. Activities are planned so that children of all abilities can access them - visit


Tuesday 18th October 2022

Freemasons’ annual report reveals 50% increase in membership enquiries

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has launched its 2021 annual report, which shows an increase in the number of membership enquiries from 12,000 in 2020 to 18,000 in 2021, reflecting its commitment to modernisation and transparency. There has also been a significant increase in the number of visitors to the UGLE website, up from 65,000 in 2020 to 83,000 in 2021, representing a rise of almost 30%. In 2021, UGLE launched its first National Digital Marketing Campaign (NDMC). The campaign aimed to modernise communication channels with the public and send a clear message about the world of Freemasonry and what being a member has to offer. Results from the campaign have already started to be seen. Currently, UGLE has a waiting list of 6,000 people expecting to become members, while more than 8,800 membership enquiries were received in less than three months (78% higher than the initial target). Recent research also showed that one in four people would consider joining the Freemasons today, compared to just one in ten when the same survey was conducted in 2018.

HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: “Freemasonry has had a profound effect on its members, drawing people together and celebrating the very best of humanity. I am enormously proud of the efforts of our organisation and its members. I hope that, having read this report, you will agree that we are a unique institution and, more than that, a real force for good in society.”

The annual report also highlights that Freemasons were busier than ever in 2021 in their local communities, looking after and supporting the vulnerable. They donated three million soft-toys for Teddies for Loving Care, while more than 33,000 adult, young and parent carers were supported by a donation of more than £715,000 from Freemasons. The funds helped to provide crisis support, guidance, advice and information. Elsewhere, Freemasons donated more than £550,000 to help individuals experiencing mental health issues across the UK.

The Armed Forces and Freemasonry have always been inextricably linked, so this combined and illustrious history made the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant a perfect fit for the UGLE and its Provinces. The signing took place during an event at Freemasons’ Hall in October 2021 and demonstrated the UGLE's support for members of the Armed Forces in several areas, including education, family wellbeing, getting a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare, financial assistance and discounted services.

Looking forward, the annual report also gives a glimpse of the UGLE’s new seven-year strategy known as the Strategic Roadmap. The project is being led by Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence and his strategic team. Mr Spence is currently travelling to present the roadmap in greater detail to each region. The strategy aims to ensure the UGLE is a thriving organisation that members enjoy and are proud of being part of, and which positively impacts communities and supports wider society. Regarding the Strategic Roadmap, Mr Spence said: “Sustainability of membership is not just concerned with securing new members from across all age groups and backgrounds, but also about motivating and engaging our current membership.”

In 2023, Freemasons will celebrate the 300-year anniversary of the publication in London of The Constitutions of the Freemasons – known as the 1723 Constitutions – which would set a pattern for Freemasonry throughout the world. Understanding their context helps to explain the origins of modern Freemasonry and shed light on the relationship between Freemasonry and society today. Freemasonry is a unique members' organisation that has thrived for more than 300 years. Having no political or religious affiliations, we comprise members of all ages, races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. Freemasons gather in their individual Lodges throughout the country, where they have ceremonial traditions that encourage members to be more tolerant and respectful, and actively fulfil civic and charitable responsibilities. They also make time to eat, drink and meet together, often forming lifelong friendships.

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Livia Ferreira, public relations and marketing manager, United Grand Lodge of England Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wednesday 5th October 2022

Pakistan flood victims receive £30,000 from Freemasons for clean water and tents


Thousands of people who have had their lives devastated by the unprecedented floods in Pakistan will be given emergency relief thanks to a grant of £30,000 from Freemasons in Suffolk and other Provinces across England and Wales. More than a thousand people, including hundreds of children, have lost their lives in the disaster, and Freemasonry, through the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) is responding in partnership with the British Red Cross and UNICEF to provide emergency relief to the survivors. An estimated 33 million people from three of the country’s four provinces have been affected by heavy rains and floods, many of them losing everything. The victims include many of the most vulnerable people in the world, including 400,000 refugees from Afghanistan.

In addition to the loss of life and destruction of homes and property, millions have lost their livelihoods. A large part of the country remains underwater, with the loss of billions of pounds of crops and the deaths of more than 700,000 livestock. UNICEF and the British Red Cross will each be receiving £15,000 from the Freemasons for their relief efforts, which could provide clean drinking water and emergency food relief for hundreds of households, tents to provide basic shelter or mosquito nets to protect flood survivors from malaria and dengue fever.

Luke Tredget, Head of Emergencies atthe British Red Cross, said: “We’re very grateful for this generous grant which will allow us to provide immediate emergency relief to people who are in desperate need. This unprecedented disaster has devastated vast areas of the country and left millions of people in urgent need of help.”

Rick Orme of Suffolk Freemasons added “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help UNICEF and the Red Cross with their relief effort in Pakistan. This is the most terrible situation for millions of people and I’m proud that Freemasons are providing help and support to charities on the ground working with survivors."

For further information about UNICEF -               For further information about the British Red