Essex Freemasons donate £30,000 to support vital service for visually impaired

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Essex Freemasons have donated £30,000 to independent sight loss charity Southend in Sight to help it continue and develop its “Talk and Support service”. It means that the project, which first began during lockdown, now has sufficient funding for the next three years.

The money, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons own charity, will help ensure that this unique scheme which offers support with the help of the charity’s visually impaired volunteers, will continue to grow.

The scheme works using volunteers who make regular phone calls to those members who are more isolated in the community. These volunteers have particular insight into the challenges faced by Southend in Sight’s clients on a daily basis, and a working knowledge of the support and advice the charity can supply.

Living with sight loss can be isolating in itself but during the lockdowns imposed over the course of the pandemic, that isolation has been even greater.  A phone call from someone who understands a visually impaired person’s situation can change that.

The charity’s staff and volunteers currently make calls to more than 80 local visually impaired people on a regular basis, many of whom are vulnerable and isolated.  The grant from Essex Freemasons will allow Southend in Sight to develop this service, connect with more people isolated because of sight loss and train more volunteers. When restrictions allow, staff at the charity hope to offer coffee mornings and local meet ups for small groups to help them stay connected and begin to mix with people again, as many will need to build up confidence. 

Lucy Martin, CEO of Southend in Sight says: “We are delighted to receive this three-year grant from Essex Freemasons which will allow us to continue and develop our project for older visually impaired people in the local community.   I am very proud of everyone involved with our Talk and Support service and I know that the regular chats with our staff and volunteers have provided a lifeline for many over the last year.”

Paul Reeves, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in charge of Essex Freemasons, commented: “We have more than 2,000 members who meet in the Southend area and they are very much part of the local community. It means we are delighted to be able to support a charity which is doing such excellent work.”

The charity’s base at 117 Hamlet Court Road is now open for pre-booked appointments and it is able to make some deliveries of essential equipment and even offer advice on the doorstep if the need arose.  The charity’s shop is also open again at the Hamlet Court Road site and welcoming shoppers keen to grab a bargain. For information about the Talk and Support service and all other services and assistance available through Southend in Sight, please call on 01702 342131 or go to www.southendinsight.org.uk.

Braham Djidjelli

Deputy Group Communications Officer
Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex