Friday 30th September 2022

Helping your community through the cost of living crisis

The Adviceand Support Team (AST) at the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), is committed to supporting Freemasons and their family members through financial, health, and other issues, and has had to step up its game in 2022 once the cost of living crisis struck. Since February 2022, the UK has been battling with a spiralling inflation, which is currently at over nine per cent. More and more people are worried about putting food on the table, being able to afford transportation to get to work or send their children to school, as well as paying for gas, fuel and electricity. Seeing these prices increase daily can cause a lot of anxiety; according to the Office for National Statistics, 77 per cent of adults in the UK reported feeling very or somewhat worried about the rising costs of living, and 50 per cent of those who stated being very worried think about it nearly every day.

Thankfully, the MCF Advice and Support Team (AST) is here to helpFreemasons and their family members with a free and confidential service, with advisers based regionally throughout England and Wales. Once a referral has been made, a local team member will call to discuss the situation and offer advice on any support or services available.

“There is a surprisingly large amount of people who are eligible for benefits but do not claim them because they are unaware or uninformed. One example that comes to mind is a recent conversation I had with a woman whose husband died after she had cared for him for 10 years. Her caring role was so all-consuming that she hadn’t considered or been aware of the benefits she was entitled to and desperately needed when the cost of living started to rise for her own financial and mobility struggles. Thankfully, we have been able to help her access disability credit and pension credit which she was entitled to all along.”– Caroline Wales, MCF Adviser.

As well as informing people of their eligibility, the AST can offer guidance and support with applications for state benefits. For those applying for an MCF grant, the team will take time to check the applicant’s eligibility by assessing their financial, personal, and/or health situation, as well as their link to Freemasonry. But the support doesn’t stop there; the MCF’s free and confidential counselling service has been crucial for many people dealing with the cost of living crisis and mental health illness as a result. Financial woes and poor mental health are strongly linked, as living in debt and struggling pay bills to can inviteconditions such as anxiety, depression and stress– so it’s unsurprising that one in two adults with debts also has a mental health problem.

As always, the Advice and Support team is continuing to monitor and respond to the current issues of today, and is able to make a difference to the lives of families in the Freemasonry community in these challenging times, thanks to the generosity of Freemasons.

 Contact the MCF enquiries team for more information and to get support

0800 035 60 90
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It was with the greatest sadness that the United Grand Lodge of England learned of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our longest serving British Sovereign.

Queen Elizabeth’s father, His late Majesty King George VI and her consort, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, were both Freemasons.  Her cousin, HRH The Duke of Kent, has been Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England since 1967, and will be sending a message of condolence on behalf of all English Freemasons to His Majesty The King.  Another of her cousins, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, has been Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England and Wales since 1982, and an announcement is being made from Mark Masons’ Hall.

God Save The King.

22nd June 2022

Freemasons continue their funding for life-changing medical research

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) has been committed to funding vital medical research since its inception in 2016, with the aim of improving knowledge, treatment and services for people with life-changing diseases and illnesses. By funding PhD studentships, Freemasonry is not only advancing the medical community’s understanding of complex diseases, it is cementing the next generation of research experts and scientists. In February 2022, the MCF awarded a total of £541,000 to medical research, working with four partners to fund seven new PhD studentships under the theme of degenerative diseases. These new partners include Alzheimer’s Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, and the University of Bradford.

The MCF recently spoke to two students to discover their goals and findings of their PhD studentships.

PhD Student: Richard ScharffCharity: Fight for Sight with the University of ManchesterMCF funding:£100,000

What is Richard researching? Richard’s study aims to better understand how age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease that affects a person's central vision, develops.

Why AMD? “When I was introduced to AMD while studying my masters, I was struck by how debilitating a disease it is, as well as how much of the UK population suffers from it –roughly 600,000 people. To lose ones sight is such a major struggle, so I felt that any work I could do to prevent AMD would be worthwhile and fulfilling.” says Richard.

What has Richard discovered? As he approaches the end of his studentship, Richard has seen impressive findings through his research: “I’ve discovered that the protein ITIH3, which is found in high quantities for people with AMD, can attach to a range of different molecules within the eye, as well as to itself. I’m currently in the process of imaging sections of donated eyes to find out where exactly ITIH3 is, what it attaches to, and how that changes the area of the eye.”

How will Richard’s research make a difference? “While my research will not cure AMD, it will be another brick in the process that will be followed by those who will develop new therapies based on what I learn. This will lead to better treatments and eventually prevent the disease from harming anyone at all.”

PhD student:Russell FrewCharity:Diabetes UK with the University of ExeterMCF funding:£88,935

What is Russell researching? Russell’s research aims to understand the link between mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin disorders, like diabetes.

Why this study? “I was initially interested in this area of study because of the rarity of mitochondrial dysfunction. Learning about this led me to the fascinating revelation that mitochondria are more important than given credit for. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a poorly-understood cause of diabetes and a fascinating area of research.” “It was such great news to hear that the MCF decided to fund our project.I feel so lucky to be given the opportunity to be part of such an impactful and inspiring team of scientists,” says Russell.

What has Russell discovered? “Even in the early stages of my PhD, I have found evidence to suggest that one genetic variant, previously not associated with diabetes, may be involved in the development of diabetes in new-born babies.”

How will Russell’s research make a difference? Of course, the most important aspect of medical research is how it will impact lives. Through Russell’s research, more accurate diagnoses could be given to babies living with rare genetic insulin disorders, ensuring they can access the best treatments for their condition. His research could also allow these genes to be genetically screened for, ensuring earlier diagnosis for babies and improving access to potentially life-saving treatments.

By nurturing the talent of young scientists like Richard and Russell, and providing the funding necessary for them to become experts in their fields,
Freemasonry is enabling the research breakthroughs of tomorrow.

Learn more about MCF support through medical research here