When the coronavirus pandemic sent millions of households into lockdown we stepped up our funding for charities and adapted our services for Freemasons and their families, to ensure those most vulnerable were supported through the crisis.
In total, 451 local and national charities and initiatives were supported with £2,775,136 in funding between 1 April and 31 July. Every was penny generously donated by Freemasons and their families.
Mind, Age UK, and children’s charity Buttle UK each received £250,000 in funding from the MCF to ensure they could adapt and continue to provide their vital services. The grant to Age UK helped the charity to respond to the needs of isolated and vulnerable older members who were most at risk to the virus and its social and financial consequences; Mind used the grants to improve their mental health support services in England and Wales in order to reach as many people in need as possible during this crisis; and the grant to Buttle UK helped vulnerable and disadvantaged children to access IT equipment, internet and covered the costs to keep them engaged and learning thought books, toys, games and arts and crafts materials.
Although life at our head office changed overnight – with all staff adopting a new working routine from home – advice, support and reassurance for those seeking help remained a firm priority; including additional support for the RMBI Care Co. In May, we gave RMBI Care Co. an extraordinary grant of £5 million to ensure necessities such as personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies and staff costs were not affected by the pandemic and life in a Home could remain as normal, and as safe, as possible.
Closer to home, we remained a constant source of stability for Freemasons and their families who suddenly found themselves facing an uncertain future. In total, £2,032,847 was given to support individuals and families who could no longer make ends meet – whether from being furloughed, made redundant or due to a loss of income – to ensure they could afford the day-to-day essentials such as food and bills whilst navigating a ‘new normal’.
To support disadvantaged children of Freemasons who found themselves struggling with remote learning, we provided £98,520 to fund laptops and other essential IT equipment to help them keep up with their peers, both socially and academically.
Worryingly, one quarter of UK adults experienced a rise in feelings of anxiety and depression as a result of the lockdown*. We ensured Freemasons and their families continued to have access to a free, confidential counselling service to support their emotional and mental wellbeing; a total of 239 people were supported at a cost of £183,048.
For those sadly bereaved by the virus, we were there to ensure paying for a funeral did not add to an emotionally-draining time. 37 families turned to the MCF during the most difficult time in their lives for help with funeral costs, which totalled £97,178.
Whilst many Freemasons and their families faced unknown challenges and an uncertain future, we kept true to its values and responded to the needs of over 1,460 individuals and families to provide much-needed stability through the storm.
* Mental Health Foundation study