Faced with the greatest global pandemic in living memory, Freemasons across Cambridgeshire and throughout the UK came together in 2020 and donated a total of £1m, as well as their time, to help those in need.
The donations were used to help communities in various critical areas, including foodbanks, support for unpaid carers, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women’s refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances, and equipment.
Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas, where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.
Since March 2020, Cambridgeshire Freemasons have:
- Helped to organize local support networks and food banks.
- Provided PPE for crew of the MAGPAS and East Anglian Air Ambulances.
- Donated a fridge to help the Salvation Army feed the homeless in Cambridge.
- Contributed to the manufacturing of 2,000 sets of scrubs for Addenbrookes, Papworth and other local hospitals via local organisation Connection Through Crafting.
- Helped to fund a series of Creative Packs for children, containing inspiring activity sheets and arts and crafts materials.
- Helped Soham Community Association build support networks between students and the elderly.
- Supported new equipment at the John Farman Intensive Care Unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
- Provided funding to allow staff at Cambridge Samaritans to continue working during lockdown.
- Made donations to support families of young patients via the Ronald McDonald House Charity.
- Donated to bursary fund to help young carers with their education through ‘Caring Together’.
- Helped to fund ‘visitor pods’ at the Cornwallis Court Care Home in Suffolk.
- Donated chairs to the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity to enable training sessions, meetings, events and fundraising activities to take place much more easily and efficiently.
- Funded repairs to the Scout Hut in Fordham.
- Made donations to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice in Milton to give families a well-earned rest via the emergency short break care.
- Helped Pos+Ability to fund a new online exercise programme for people with long-term neurological conditions.
- Helped ‘Over Day Centre’ with it aims of maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for older people by helping to combat loneliness and provide respite for their carers.
- Volunteered at local vaccination centres across the county.
- Provided over 150 computers to young people as part of the Cambridgeshire Digital Drive initiative.
At the start of the crisis in April 2020, some Freemasons adapted their businesses’ production lines to produce nearly 5,000 visors for use in healthcare settings. Since then, Freemasons have produced or procured tens of thousands of pieces of additional PPE.
Meanwhile, to help protect women and children from domestic abuse, Freemasons donated more than £165,000 in 2020. The donation helped more than 2,000 women receive more than 1,000 parcels containing essential items for women fleeing domestic abuse during the lockdown.
Freemasons also focused their efforts on hospitals and care homes, donating nearly 1,000 tablets to provide vital contact between coronavirus patients and their loved ones. The tablets were provided to more than 50 hospitals, care homes and hospices.
Elsewhere, to support thousands of families struggling during the crisis, Freemasons donated 300,000 meals and 38 tonnes of food to homeless people, women’s refuges and vulnerable people, supporting more than 120,000 people in total. Moreover, £560,000 was donated to provide meals and help to numerous foodbanks.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), said: "No one in this day and age should have to worry where their next meal is coming from. We are so glad that we were able to provide thousands of families across the UK with a hot meal or food donations to help get them through this current crisis. Freemasons have achieved all of this in just a few months and have also given their time to produce and deliver food to the vulnerable."
The UGLE is also encouraging its members to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to help vaccinate the population. “More than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work were undertaken by Freemasons. Now it is crucial that we help in every way we can to protect the population. If the NHS needs volunteers, then we are happy to emphasise the importance of this to our members,” said Dr Staples.
He continued: “Our response to the Pandemic shows what Freemasonry is all about; supporting those in need, giving back to our communities and volunteering where it can make a real difference. Freemasons have been doing this for over 300 years and I am proud of the time and commitment that our members have given to support the nation in its fight against Covid-19.”
In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing Covid-19 crisis response. Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners. More than 40,000 homeless individuals are being provided with food and essentials, transport, help with accessing services such as counselling and healthcare, as well as employment and training opportunities.
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Information about all the stories specific to Cambridgeshire is available on request.
Interviews available on request.
Montage Photo shows a small selection of Cambridgeshire Freemasons’ assistance during Covid-19.
About Cambridgeshire Freemasonry:
The Masonic Province of Cambridgeshire is relatively small, with Masonic Centres in Cambridge, Ely, Newmarket, March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and Wisbech; this amounts to some 1500 Freemasons and 30 individual lodges. We pride ourselves on our friendliness and inclusivity, with members drawn from all walks of life and professional backgrounds. We welcome enquiries from anyone who is curious about our values and our history.
More information is available on our website and enquiries should be directed to our Provincial Office in Cambridge via https://www.cambridgeshirefreemasons.org.uk/ or to our Provincial Information Officer:
About the United Grand Lodge of England:
The Premier Grand Lodge, which became the United Grand Lodge of England, was founded at the Goose and Gridiron Pub in London in 1717. It has 48 Provinces across the country and more than 7,000 Lodges, with students over the age of 18 able to join one of the 85 University Scheme Lodges. Freemasons use four important guiding principles to help define their path through life: integrity, friendship, respect and charity. One of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world, Freemasonry’s roots lie in the traditions of the medieval stonemasons who built our cathedrals and castles. Membership is open to people from all backgrounds and the organisation’s aim is to empower members to be the best they can be – it’s about building character, supporting members as individuals and helping them make a positive contribution to society. Freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £48m to deserving causes in 2018 alone. Freemasons do not only donate money – more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work are undertaken by Freemasons every year.
Livia Ferreira, public relations manager, United Grand Lodge of England
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9208 | Mobile: +44 (0)7539 578699
Michelle Worvell, director of communications and marketing, United Grand Lodge of England
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9290 | Mobile: +44 (0)7538 512669