The Next Item on the Agenda is the Almoner’s Report

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The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) has replaced what was once considered a difficult process for assistance into a smooth one for individuals and their families. Throughout England and Wales, it now takes four to 10 weeks for routine grant applications. Visiting Brothers have been replaced by Visiting Volunteers who are more qualified and work on a UK-wide basis.  Most applications to the MCF are received direct but a number still go through Lodge Almoners, especially those from older Brethren.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) prevents Lodge Almoners from reporting about a Brother’s circumstances without explicit permission.  The Almoner’s role is now defined as ‘Pastoral Care’ which Ray Heathfield, the Deputy Provincial Grand Almoner of the Essex Freemasons, described to the 180 online participants at the Essex Provincial Almoner’s Conference on 6th May 2021, means “making contact and listening”.

“To support Lodge Almoners”, Ray continued, “the Province is divided into six areas, each with an Almoner Liaison Officer (ALO). There is an additional ALO for Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Court care home and Hamilton Court.”  The Provincial ‘Adopt a Widow Scheme’ was presented by Paul Cash, who explained that one year ago, 123 widows were on the list. So far 99 have been adopted, leaving 24 unattached of which six have said ‘Thank-you we are fine’ and four are in care homes.

The new Provincial Grand Almoner, Gary Hostler, explained that Essex has nine Almoner Grants Officers (AGOs) and emphasised how important the Essex Provincial Almoners Fund (EPAF) is in providing immediate relief, in cases such as loss of income, before long term financial, medical or family support can be provided by the MCF. Gary also outlined how:

  • Being lonely can lead to an early death as it is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Gary said “There are 200,000 older people who have not had a conversation for over a month.”
  • Many more Lodges are recognising the importance of appointing a Deputy Almoner to assist in the wellbeing of Brethren and this should be encouraged
  • A list of speakers from medical charities is being compiled who will happily present to Lodges and Chapters about their work in return for a donation.

Deputy Provincial Grand Master in-Charge, Paul Reeves, informed the Conference that £72,000 had been given from the EPAF to help those unable to earn an income since the beginning of lockdown.  Paul, an Almoner in two Lodges since becoming DPGM, also added he “never realised how busy the role is”.  He is 100% right and an excellent role-model. Almoners need to reach out to all members and give courage to those affected to seek help, regardless of whether they are in troubled circumstances or just want to take a back seat for a bit and rest assured their Lodge cares for its members when they hear the Worshipful Master say “The next item on the Agenda is the Almoner’s Report.”

Tony Hales

Content Generator
Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex