FREEMASONRY IN THE COMMUNITY
Looking back at the contribution Berkshire Freemasons have made across the local community in the past year
Your donations making a difference in the lives of young people and families in Berkshire, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation awarded a grant of £15,000 to Clear Sky Children’s Charity in Little Wittenham so Maurice Dixon, Berkshire Provincial Press Officer and secondary school teacher, paid a visit to find out more about what they do.
I met Anna Hodgson, “Captain of Clear Sky” in a stunning mid-17th century Manor House on the edge of Little Wittenham village. It was a hard place to find through small winding country roads that take you past the River Thames (where the annual Pooh Sticks World Championships are held each year) and the Wittenham Clumps which stand on top of the Sinodun Hills. Sinodun (from which a local Rose Croix chapter take their name) is a Celtic name meaning “old fort” and in the Iron Age the hill fort dominated the region. The nearby woods are managed by the Earth Trust.
The founder, Sophia Giblin, who names herself the CEO – Chief of Enthusiasm and Optimism, set up the charity having reflected on her own childhood. Her mother passed away leaving behind four children and as the eldest she found herself playing the mother role in her family. Her little sister was only nine and struggled to come to terms with what had happened and as a result the whole family experienced varying degrees of mental health challenges.
Sophia’s belief is that “There are too many children out there suffering at the hands of circumstances beyond their control. We passionately believe that the world would be a better place if adults spent more time playing with children, developing strong and healthy relationships through play to help children feel safe in this world.”
I asked Anna what the charity does to help these young people and their families. Her team of play therapists and arts therapists work at the centre but also in schools and community centres. They work one-to-one with children and run small group therapy. In addition, they run a programme called “Playful parents” where they help parents play with their children, establish positive parenting skills and how to notice their children’s needs and motivations and how to help them.
As well as helping children and families themselves they are also now developing resources and training for teachers so that they can carry out these techniques in schools and children’s centres. At the beginning they served families geographically close to them but are now spreading out so that they reach families in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Anna wrote to the Masonic Charitable Foundation asking for support and was delighted to receive a grant of £15,000 over three years. She estimated that the grant would enable them to work with up to 60 individual children over the three years or to subsidise many more. They ask schools and social services to help pay for therapy and have an £80,000 fundraising target to help support those families where funding can’t be found any other way.
Anna made an interesting point that for every £1 donated to children’s charities such as hers, it saves society £15 in the future. This on top of helping over 60 children meet clear sky’s aim to “be happy, love life and enjoy school.”
You can find out more about the charity and make a personal donation to their fund by visiting www.clear-sky.org.uk
Berkshire Provincial Press Officer, Secretary St Edmund Lodge Abingdon 6451