THE GRAND CHARITY
** SLIDE 1: Introducing The Freemasons' Grand Charity
My name is *********** , thank you very much for inviting me to join you this
evening, to speak about the work of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, it is a pleasure to
be here. I am always delighted to be asked to speak about the Charity because it does
such excellent and varied work.
Hopefully following this evening’s presentation I will have been able to demonstrate
the wide-reaching work of the Charity, made possible of course only because of the
great support the Charity receives from Freemasons and their families.
The presentation will take about 20 minutes and at the end there will be an
opportunity for you to ask questions – which I will do my best to answer!
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** SLIDE 2: The Masonic Charities
So to set the stage… Even though the focus of today’s presentation is on the work of
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, it is important to remind you that it is only one of four
central Masonic Craft Charities that provide cradle to grave support for Masons and
their dependants. The four Charities are now all located on the lower ground floor of
Freemasons’ Hall in London and, in addition to the Grand Charity, include:
the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
the Masonic Samaritan Fund
Together the charities provide support for Freemasons and their dependants:-
by offering financial help and by relieving poverty
by advancing education
by providing accommodation and being concerned with the general care of the
and by providing funds for medical and dental treatment, as well as mobility
equipment and respite care
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** SLIDE 3: About The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, was established in 1980 and took over the activities of
Grand Lodge’s Board of Benevolence, which for many, many, years had been the
general source of benevolence for those who had fallen on hard times. The other
Charities I have just mentioned, developed from organisations set up over time to help
with specific needs, but it is the Grand Charity that is our focus today.
In the 30 years since it started to operate, the Grand Charity has supported thousands
of Freemasons and their dependants and hundreds of charities from the world outside
of Freemasonry with grants totalling well over £100 million.
Our first and foremost role is to make grants to help:-
individual Masons, or their dependants, who are in need - these are called
Masonic Relief Grants;
non-Masonic charities, whose work covers the whole of England and Wales, or
those dealing with emergency relief work worldwide
and other Masonic Charities in times of need
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** SLIDE 4: Help provided to the Masonic Community
Masonic Relief Grants are awarded for:
essential daily living expenses, which includes the costs of food, clothing,
heating and lighting, after taking income and some state benefits into account
unexpected needs, for example outstanding funeral bills, minor home repairs,
or hardship faced following an accident, redundancy, or other personal crisis.
Masonic Relief Grants, provided for Freemasons and their dependants in financial
need, can be renewed annually, and there is no limit to the number of grants that any
individual may receive over their lifetime.
In total, last year over 2,000 people were assisted by the Grand Charity with grants
approved totalling £4.3 million. The majority of people assisted are aged 60 to 80 and
widows and similar dependants remain the largest single group of beneficiaries. In
many cases, grants are made to alleviate ongoing need and over 70% of individuals
have received support for a number of years.
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SLIDE 5: Support for Freemasons
Here are a couple of case studies which will hopefully further illustrate the type of help
we give, please note that the names have been changed to protect our beneficiaries
The first is Margaret Johnson who is typical of the widows supported by the Charity.
She was sadly widowed several years ago, and was struggling to make ends meet. After
being contacted by her local Lodge Almoner, Margaret explained to him that she was
concerned she did not have enough money to cover all of her payments each month,
and that she was considering selling her home and moving to different
accommodation. Her home was not particularly grand or even, in absolute terms,
very expensive to maintain, but with the loss of her husband’s state pension, she was
unable to meet all of the running costs from her pension alone.
She dreaded the prospect of having to move away from her family home of forty years,
filled with happy memories of her husband and family. Nothing is more important to
most people than staying in their home, especially when it has been ‘home’ for such a
long time. With just a small additional grant from the Grand Charity, Margaret was
able to meet her monthly bills, enabling her to stay in her home and near to her
friends of forty years.
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** SLIDE 6: Support for Freemasons
We also receive applications to support Freemasons and their families when disaster
strikes. Unfortunately, this has become all too commonplace during the last three
years as the economic recession has brought financial hardship to previously
prosperous families. As a result of the financial turmoil, successful businessmen have
lost jobs and homes which often leads to the breakdown of marriages and family life.
The typical pattern is exemplified by Jim, who owned a small electrical business and
supported his wife and two young children, along with his elderly mother. As his
primary client base of the construction industry retrenched further and further, his
order book dried up and the clients he had supplied became bad debts. Despite taking
a second mortgage on his home, he was unable to keep the business going and
eventually had to declare bankruptcy. Faced with no income and mounting debts, he
became more and more withdrawn and eventually stopped going to Lodge meetings.
Fortunately his Lodge Almoner sought him out, and after some gentle questioning it
became apparent that Jim was on the brink of losing his house and having nowhere to
live and no means to support his family. An emergency grant from the Grand Charity
was approved to provide a lifeline, which gave him the time he needed to sell his home
and cover temporary accommodation and other essential living costs. In the past six
months Jim has found a new job and the family are slowly rebuilding their lives.
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* SLIDE 7: Relief Chest Scheme
As many of you will already be fully aware, in addition to its grant-giving, the Grand
Charity also provides a service to the Craft and other recognised Masonic organisations
called the Relief Chest Scheme. The Scheme supports the fundraising activities of
Lodges, Chapters and other Masonic units by providing them with a simple and
effective way to give to charity. The Scheme greatly reduces the demands on Brethren
responsible for fundraising, by taking over the administration and statutory
compliance involved, as well as claiming Gift Aid relief and investing funds at a
favourable rate of interest. To give you some indication of the huge size of its
operation, in the last year alone £9.6 million was donated via the Relief Chest Scheme
to charities and individual people in need.
The Relief Chest Scheme has been operating for over 25 years now, and each year it
grows from strength to strength. During 2011, over £1 million was raised via the Gift
Aid envelope scheme for the first time - a fantastic achievement I am sure you will
agree. Introduced in 2005, gift aid envelopes have greatly enhanced the value of
donations Brethren give at traditional alms collections, by enabling the Charity to
reclaim tax on these donations.
To emphasise to any of you who may not be totally converted to the importance of
Gift Aid, over the past five years the Relief Chest Scheme has reclaimed from
government more than £3.7m, which has been added to over 4,400 relief chests. The
help the Relief Chest Scheme provides saves members the entire administrative
burden of dealing with the HMRC and maintaining all the records, like Gift Aid
declarations, required to document the eligibility of any claims made. The services of
the Relief Chest are provided to the Craft at no direct charge to the individual Chest
holders, but are met from the general funds of the Grand Charity.
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** SLIDE 8: Non-Masonic Grants: Objectives
One of the reasons that The Freemasons’ Grand Charity was established was to enable
the Craft, as a whole, to make donations to charities with no Masonic connection.
With these grants, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity seeks to achieve three objectives:
To make a significant difference to people in real need.
To support issues that individual Freemasons and their families are concerned
about and will be glad to be helping.
To support projects that achieve a long-term impact
In the year to end November 2011, £2.6 million was donated to charities across
England and Wales.
All applications received by the office are reviewed against guidelines agreed by the
Council. One of these specifies that the charity must be national: charities that serve
only a local area are not eligible for support from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and
are advised to seek funding from local or Provincial Lodges.
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** SLIDE 9: Medical Research: JDRF
The funding of medical research is of real benefit to the wider community and is a
very important area of the Grand Charity’s grant making programme. Since 1981
over £8 million has been given to this cause. The Charity has funded many different
research projects, from varying types of cancer through to Epilepsy, Arthritis, Motor
Neurone Disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Blindness, just to name a few.
Occasionally the Grand Charity is fortunate enough to receive news that research the
Charity has funded has achieved a very tangible, positive result. This was the case
recently, following a grant made in 2007 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Foundation of £50,000 towards research into diabetes treatment.
Diabetes is a chronic, life threatening condition in which the pancreas does not
produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood glucose levels and enables
the body to store energy from food: without it we would die. The current method of
control is via daily insulin injections or pump infusions, and there is no cure. If blood
glucose levels become too low hypoglycaemia occurs, which can lead to a variety of
symptoms, occasionally causing death.
The Juvenile Diabetes research team worked to create an artificial pancreas for
children, to be used overnight to monitor blood glucose levels and administer insulin
automatically. The team measured how well their artificial pancreas system
controlled glucose levels overnight compared with a regular insulin pump. Insulin
pumps deliver insulin at preselected rates, whereas the artificial pancreas system
can change how much insulin it delivers in response to changing glucose readings
detected by a continuous glucose monitor.
In 2010, it was announced this research has been successful, potentially reducing the
devastating complications of the disease for millions of people. Further trials are
commencing to test the use of the artificial pancreas in a home environment but it is
anticipated that the results will contribute to the medical and regulatory acceptance
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of the device, and for the eventual use for Adults as well. Needless to say, the
Council of the Grand Charity is delighted that the grant has led to such a positive
Following on from this an additional grant of £50,000 was given to the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation, in 2011. The money is helping to fund research to
prevent complications from diabetes, specifically neuropathy or nerve damage, at
the University of Manchester.
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*SLIDE 10: Multiple Sclerosis research breakthrough
The Charity has also been fortunate to hear that another research project it has
funded has had an exciting breakthrough. Over the last two years the Grand Charity
has been funding research at the University of Cambridge, into the treatment of
multiple sclerosis. £100,000 has been given to examine the side effects of a drug
called “alemtuzumab”. Late last year it was announced that trials into the drug have
indeed been successful - a significant development for those suffering from multiple
MS is one of the most common neurological conditions among young adults,
affecting around 100,000 people in the UK. It is an autoimmune disease, in which the
body’s immune system mistakes friend as foe. The resulting damage prevents the
nerves from ‘firing’ properly and ultimately leads to their destruction, resulting in
physical and intellectual disabilities.
Recent results have shown that alemtuzumab is a much more effective treatment for
early stage relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis than the currently approved drug.
The results also show it may repair damaged brain tissue, enabling the recovery of
neurological functions, an unprecedented finding.
This recent breakthrough illustrates the promise that the new drug holds as a
transformative treatment for a broad range of people with relapsing multiple
sclerosis. It is hoped the drug will be approved by the UK and US regulatory
bodies in the next two years, producing a new, effective treatment for MS.
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** SLIDE 11: Vulnerable people: Parkinson’s UK
One of the key mantras of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is in providing help and
support to people in need and this is encapsulated within our largest category of
grant-making. Our “Vulnerable People” category encompasses national
organisations which deal with a wide variety of problems including: disability, care
for the seriously ill, care for ex-armed services, deprivation, homelessness and
poverty, to name but a few, and over £20 million has been donated for this purpose
over the last thirty years.
Within this category a new national initiative has been established whereby the
Charity approves a major grant of £250,000 each year, to a cause that receives
particular support from Freemasons. The donation is split into smaller grants which
are delivered by the Provincial Grand Lodges to the local branches of a selected
national charity, in a similar manner to the Air Ambulance grants.
The second national grant was announced in 2011 – a quarter of a million pounds to
Parkinson’s UK! Every Province received a grant of £5,000 to give to a branch of
Parkinson’s UK. The money helped to fund exercise classes, as well as patient
therapies and other aspects of care, such as help with transportation. The money has
also been used towards funding new, specially trained Parkinson’s nurses.
The Council of the Grand Charity are aware that many Freemasons have experience
of what it is like to live with Parkinson’s, either through a friend or family connection,
which has been a key factor for why the Charity was selected for this national grant.
This grant followed a £180,000 grant made to Parkinson’s UK in 2007, for research
into what causes Parkinson’s, research which has made a significant step towards
understanding the disease.
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** SLIDE 12: Vulnerable people: Home-Start UK
Another charity to receive a recent major grant in this category is Home-Start UK.
Home-Start offers support, friendship and practical help to families who are
experiencing some kind of difficulty and affected by issues such as depression,
poverty, disability, illness, poor housing, isolation and loneliness.
An example of the type of situation where Home-Start can help is perfectly
illustrated by this story of a father and daughter, pictured here. Neil is a single dad
who lives alone with his daughter, who sadly has a terminal illness. Neil has been in
this situation since his daughter was diagnosed with a condition that means it’s
unlikely that she will reach school age. Parenting his three-year-old daughter Isabel
with virtually no support is a massive challenge for him, as I am sure you can
imagine. Isabel’s condition is life threatening and affects her memory, speech,
muscles, eye sight and mobility. Looking after her requires round-the-clock care,
from administering her medication to feeding her through a tube. Isabel’s mum no
longer lives with them, having herself suffered with mental health issues, and Neil is
left feeling very isolated. Neil says that Home-Start has proved to be his ‘lifeline’. His
Home-Start volunteer offers him both practical and emotional support and someone
to turn to. With Home-Start’s help, Neil says that he can stay focused on Isabel and
her needs, and try and remain positive in what is such a difficult and sad situation.
Home-Start recently received £64,000 from the Grand Charity to help fund their
parent freephone information helpline and national website. Both are important
tools for families securing Home-Start services – without them people like Neil might
not be able to access the support they so desperately need. The Grand Charity has
also previously funded Home-Start UK with a major grant of £105,000 in 2005, which
was used to fund a regional development consultant.
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** SLIDE 13: Youth Opportunities: Amber Foundation
The Grand Charity also seeks to improve opportunities for young people, with over
£4 million donated to this cause in the last thirty years. A significant focus of this
support is for the most disadvantaged, at-risk youth in society, to help them to gain
the necessary skills for employment and social integration and to move on from
difficult situations. But support is also given to organisations helping a broad range
of young people to get the most out of life, such as our £500,000 grant to the Scout
Amber Foundation received £25,000 in 2011 to fund salary costs of a Recruiting
Officer for a residential centre. Amber provides a temporary home to young people
who want to work towards achieving a better future, plus a structured programme
of activities aimed at helping people find employment. It provides young people with
a challenging and engaging step-by-step rebuilding process, designed to help them
overcome each of the obstacles that have previously stood between them and
independent living. The recruiting officer makes contacts with referring agencies,
identifies suitable young people and obtains funding for places.
The Amber Foundation exists to help people like Chris, who is pictured here. When
Chris was a young teenager he didn’t have a stable home so moved around
constantly and was always getting into trouble because of his drinking. He ended up
in prison where he realised that unless he did something about it he would be
forever stuck in that revolving door of crime and prison. Chris heard about the
Amber Foundation and as soon as he arrived he loved it. Chris openly talks about
how he couldn’t believe the chance he was being given through Amber and how
much of a transformation it has given his life.
Through the opportunity Chris was given by Amber he was able to live in a safe,
stable environment and even take up community activities including joining the local
cricket team. After a few days of playing cricket he was offered work experience by
another player who owned his own construction company, and he now works with
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him full time, receiving on the job training. Chris states that Amber has shown him
that with the right attitude and bit of hard work, even the most stubborn and hot
headed people are worth helping because it’s never too late to change your life.
What a brilliant statement to hear from someone who has been helped by Amber, it
really does demonstrate the valuable work they do.
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** SLIDE 14: Youth Opportunities: SkillForce
SkillForce is a dynamic education charity that delivers inspiring programmes that
increase the numbers of young people entering education, employment and training
on leaving school. SkillForce courses help young people learn vocational
qualifications, and develop life skills through appropriate and structured classroom
and outdoor activities. Instruction & mentoring is provided mainly by ex-armed
forces personnel, who develop a close working relationship with their students and
help to instil a culture of respect and mutual support. SkillForce programmes
produce positive outcomes for students, improved results for schools and real
benefits for the communities in which they operate.
A grant of £4 0,000 was made in 2011, to help fund a new SkillForce team. This
funding will provide the stability to grow and develop this new team through
enabling schools to trial the SkillForce programme at a subsidised rate before being
required to provide the full costs of the programme. This method of pump prime
funding has proved to be a very successful model to establish a new team within
SkillForce. The aim is to work with 370 - 500 young people over a three-year period.
The Grand Charity has become a valued supported of SkillForce, donating £240,000
in recent years.
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** SLIDE 15: Hospices 1984-2011
When discussing these three main areas of funding I think it is clear to see the depth of
support the charity provides to assist people who are in need of help. But the Grand
Charity grant making programme does not stop here.
One of the most popular beneficiaries amongst Freemasons is that of hospice services.
For over 20 years, the Grand Charity has made an annual contribution towards the
multi-million pound running costs of hospices which receive 60% or less of their
funding from the NHS. During this time, over £9 million pounds has been donated to
these services and in 2011, £600,000 was distributed amongst 229 hospices
throughout England and Wales.
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** SLIDE 16: Air Ambulances
The year 2012, marks over £1 million in total donations for Air Ambulance services,
given by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. These rescue services which are funded
entirely by donations, quite literally save lives thanks to the speed with which they are
able to respond to accidents and other serious incidents. On average, an emergency
air ambulance takes off every 10 minutes in the UK, flying 365 days a year in daylight
hours. Put another way, during every hour of every day, seven Air Ambulances are
attending accidents and medical trauma.
Presentations took place all over England and Wales, with Freemasons presenting their
regional rescue service with donations totalling £192,000. The generous donation is
part of the total figure of over £1 million donated by the Charity since 2007, providing
funding to every Air Ambulance in England and Wales.
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** SLIDE 17: Emergency Grants for Disaster Relief
In addition to our longer-term grant programmes, the Grand Charity also seeks to
respond when disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding occur throughout
the world. Such events are frequently supported by an emergency grant made under
the authority of the President of the Grand Charity. Many of the grants for
international disasters are made via the British Red Cross, the two organisations enjoy
an excellent working relationship and the Red Cross recognises the Grand Charity as
one of its staunchest supporters. Most recently grants have been given to assist
following the floods in the Philippines, famine in East Africa, the earthquake and
tsunami in Japan, and the earthquake in New Zealand.
Taking into account the serious implications of the disaster in Haiti two years ago, the
Council of the Grand Charity opened a Relief Chest to be used for a long term
regeneration project in Haiti. I am delighted to announce that £93,000 was raised by
Freemasons across the country. This money has been used to rebuild a school in the
city of Leogane (which was at the epicentre of the earthquake) in partnership with the
aid organisation Save the Children.
As well as building six new classrooms and an early learning education centre, the
donation has been used to train six teachers, providing them with a thorough
understanding of core subjects. New materials have also been supplied: 500 textbooks
and new tables and chairs for all the classrooms, as well as teaching kits to ensure
teachers have the equipment they need to run high quality primary education classes.
School children have also been provided with the equipment they need to return to
school through the distribution of school kits containing notebooks, pencils, a school
bag, raincoat and crayons.
The local community in Léogâne have expressed their deepest gratitude to
Freemasons for their generous donation. The rebuilding of the school has been a huge
step for families in returning to their normal lives and overcoming the trauma of the
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** SLIDE 18: Final slide - Contact Us
That concludes the overview of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and its activities. I
hope that the talk you have heard today has illustrated the important work carried out
by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity importance to the Masonic charities. Without the
continued support of the Masonic community we would be unable to help all of the
many people in need we support each year. For that, I give you thanks.
Now I would be very happy to answer any questions you might have.
Further information on the topics covered today is available from The Freemasons’
Grand Charity. It publishes a number of leaflets and its website is also regularly
updated with details of its most recent activities. It is now also operating in the world
of social media, so you are able to receive updates through both facebook and twitter.
Now I would be very happy to answer any questions you might have.
[updated SEP 2012]
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