FACED with the greatest global pandemic in living memory, Cheshire Freemasons 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 nationally 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.
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.
In those challenging times Richie Pitt, of Seacombe Lodge in Wallasey and the proprietor of the Coffee Roast Restaurant in Vale Park, New Brighton, provided meals, each Friday, free of charge to the wider community.
These meals are being delivered by a team of Volunteer Freemasons in response to the covid-19 pandemic with a view to delivering shopping and pharmaceuticals .
Initially only a handful of volunteers were expected to register, but such was the excellent response from the local freemasons that more than 40 volunteers are now registered and owing to their geographical location, the initiative covers the Wirral and towards Chester.
Over the period of the lockdowns, volunteers have assisted by delivering shopping, medicines, PPE equipment and cooked meals to around 80 locations with the figure increasing on a weekly basis.
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 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.”
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.