Home Charity How are Berkshire Freemasons helping their local communities?

How are Berkshire Freemasons helping their local communities?

by Neill Rhodes

Berkshire Freemasons have given £16,000 to seven charitable organisations and nine care homes across the province to help them during the Covid 19 situation.  This is in addition to the money, time and support that individual lodges have given.

This is all possible due to the help from your charities: The Masonic Charitable Foundation and Berkshire Masonic Charity. The MCF, together with UGLE, created a fund of £1 million to support COVID relief throughout England and Wales and the BMC took the decision to use their income to support a variety of COVID related appeals throughout the Province.

In addition to the initial joint effort between the MCF and UGLE, a separate appeal called the Covid 19 Relief Chest was launched in April.  The objective of this appeal is to raise a further £2 million; 50% coming from donations from lodges and individuals and 50% from the MCF.  As of the first week in June, Freemasons have donated £750,000 which is matched by the MCF to give a fund of £1.5million.

The grants have been used to support a diverse range of charities helping old and vulnerable people throughout Berkshire.  This ranges from giving tablets and IT equipment to help families keep in touch with their loved ones in care homes through to cash to support activities helping vulnerable people on the streets of Reading and Windsor. In detail, grants were made to:

Twenty five tablets were given to nine care homes and Thames Hospice.  The care homes were throughout our province and range from Lord Harris Court at Sindlesham to Stowford Care home in Abingdon.  All the tablets are being used to allow residents to speak with their families and friends as most of the sites do not allow visiting.

Mrs Roxana Brian the admin manager of the Stowford House Care Home in Abingdon. Said: “We appreciate your generosity at this difficult time, we will be able to use one tablet on each floor so that families can see their loved ones on a regular basis. Thanks again, much appreciated.”

ARC is an organisation based in Wokingham that offers confidential counselling services to anyone that might need their services be they young or old, in a warm, comfortable and safe environment in Wokingham.  Our donation will help them purchase IT equipment so they can offer a more flexible counselling service to their clients

The Berkshire Community Foundation provide support to charities and organisations throughout Berkshire. A donation from the BMC and the MCF to their special fund has enabled grants and support to be channelled quickly and effectively to the most vulnerable in Berkshire.   It was agreed with the BCF that our donation would be applied to those organisations supporting victims of domestic abuse, mental health and vulnerable children where demand during the coronavirus crisis has significantly increased

Christian Action in Windsor – Street Angels Project are a Windsor based voluntary organisation that’s operated in Windsor Town Centre.  They provide support and comfort to people on the streets of Windsor.  Our donation will help them provide water, flipflops, blankets, soup and, if they want it, a listening ear.  Since it started in 2012 the Project has help over 30,000 people and our funds will help more during these difficult times.

Ramgarhia Sabha Reading is a Gurdwara serving the Reading Sikh Community. As part of the Sikh culture, the concept of offering food and shelter free to visitors and the poor and homeless individuals is well established. Whilst the kitchens at their holy shrine in Amritsar may feed over a 100,000 per day, RSR has more local challenges: twice a week, they go out and offer food to the homeless and rough sleepers in Reading.  Our donation will help them purchase food and equipment for the next three months.  This activity is also supported by Khalsa Lodge in Sindlesham.

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The whole situation around PPE and the supply of it care homes and other sites has been very high profile and fraught with controversy. A number of Freemasons have stepped forward to help with this. The members of Priory Lodge and the local Chapter of the Widows Son Motorcycle Lodge stepped up to the plate and formed a team using several of their own personal 3D printers to make and assemble face shields.  Since starting work in March, they have supplied over 1,500 pieces of equipment to care homes, local doctors and hospitals, and local prisons.  The MCF donation will help provide raw materials for both the printers and the face shields.  All the PPE produced by this team is then delivered by motorcycle to the appropriate locations across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

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