An announcement was made in May by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master that the Province of Norfolk would commence a Festival on behalf of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity in May 2011.
What is a Festival?
There are four main Masonic Charities sponsored by the Craft on a national basis. These are:
- The Grand Charity.
- The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution.
- The New Masonic Samaritan Fund.
- The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
These charities derive their income from a number of sources, primarily from the generosity of Brethren. The principal way in which that generosity is channelled to each charity is by means of a “Festival”.
Back in the 19th century it was suggested that each Masonic province would, every few years, be asked to support one of the national Masonic charities for a given period. Because there are many more provinces than there are charities, each province would only be called on every so often.
This system has served English Freemasonry very well for some hundred years. The Province of Norfolk has been called upon to support The Grand Charity for the year 2016. The Freemasons’ Grand Charities ability to respond in 2016 to calls upon its resources will largely depend on the efforts of Norfolk masons over the next few years.
The Grand Charity was established in 1981 and took over the activities of the Board of Benevolence. Since then, it has supported more than 30,000 Freemasons and their dependants and hundreds of non-Masonic charities with grants totalling over £85 million pounds.
Nationwide, last year, Grand Charity distributed over £3.5 million to help with daily living costs and unexpected needs. That £3.5 million meant 1,933 people enjoyed a positive change in their circumstances. In Norfolk, 26 people were supported during last year with a total of £48,660.
In addition to its grant-giving, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity also manages the Relief Chest Scheme on behalf of Masonic organisations. The Relief Chest scheme was created to help Masonic organisations to manage their charitable donations more efficiently. It does this through the central administration of charitable funds donated by Lodges, Chapters and other Masonic bodies. In 2009 the Relief Chest scheme helped to donate more than £8 million to charitable causes, free of charge.
One of the main reasons that the Grand Charity was established was to enable the Craft, as a whole, to make donations to non-Masonic charities, and over £40 million has been donated to these causes since 1981. The grants made by the Charity range from £500 for smaller charities to as much as £1 million for occasional grants like the Charity’s long-term support for research into male cancers at the Institute of Cancer Research. In 2008 Grand Charity also made a second grant of £1 million, to Ovarian Cancer Action, for research into this devastating disease affecting women.
The Charity funds organisations which exist to provide care for vulnerable people within our society, including the elderly, impoverished, sick and/or disabled. A recent recipient within this category is The Alzheimer’s Society, who received £50,000 for a new programme which aims to provide information and advice to carers of people with dementia.
Another very recent grant in support of vulnerable people has been £250,000 for SSAFA Forces Help, otherwise known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association Forces Help. SSAFA helps those who serve in the Armed Forces and those who used to serve as well as caring for the families of both. The money has been distributed to branches throughout the country, providing funding at a local level.
We must not forget that since 1984 the Grand Charity has been funding hospice services, total funding for these services is now well over £8 million, with local hospices in Norfolk receiving £43,800 in total. The Norfolk Air Ambulance has also been a recipient of a donations from Grand Charity totaling £58,250.
Grand Charity also supports international disaster relief, such as, for example, the Haiti earthquake disaster. In the immediate aftermath £30,000 was donated to assist urgent recovery needs. The Council of the Grand Charity also opened a dedicated Relief Chest in order to help fund a long-term educational project in Haiti which currently stands at £90,000.
More information on the Grand Charity is available on their web site which may be viewed by clicking the Grand Charity Cube below.
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