Braham Djidjelli

Newly arrived Afghans in UK given essential supplies thanks to Essex Freemasons’ grant to British Red Cross

More than 15,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan are receiving basic necessities such as food, clothing and baby milk from the British Red Cross, which has been boosted by a grant from Essex Freemasons and other Provinces.

Freemasonry, through the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), is responding to the emergency with a £25,000 contribution to the Red Cross relief effort.

Since they left the turbulent environment of Kabul Airport and arrived in the UK, the Afghans have been moved into hotels across the country. These families arrived with nothing and lacked even the basic essentials of such as food, clothing, hygiene supplies and baby products.

The Red Cross has been providing support to Afghan families since their arrival, delivering over 1,000 units of baby milk, providing trauma support to those in distress from their experience and distributing over 400 pre-paid phones to connect families to separated loved ones.

The Red Cross will continue to fund relief efforts for Afghan families, most of whom arrived with very few belongings. These items will ensure that families have access to the basic items they need to survive and can look after themselves, stay healthy and begin to recover from their traumatic experiences.

Essex Freemasons contributed to the grant, from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Kalyani McCarthy, British Red Cross Afghanistan Relocations Manager, said:

“We’re very grateful to the Freemasons for this generous grant which makes a major contribution to the Red Cross effort to help Afghans who have mostly arrived in the UK with little more than the clothes on their backs.

“Whether it’s food, clothing or milk for babies, there’s a huge amount of need among these people and the Red Cross is doing everything it can to help.”

Paul Tarrant, the Provincial Grand Master from Essex Freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help the Red Cross with their vital work with newly arrived Afghan refugees. There are more than 15,000 people who need everything from food and clothing to a pre-paid mobile phone to allow them to stay in touch with their families in Afghanistan.

“I’m very proud that Freemasons are, once again, stepping up to help people in need”.


Press Release from The Masonic Charitable Foundation


United Grand Lodge of England commits to carbon-reduction policy

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its operations and plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2030.

As COP26 comes to a close, the United Grand Lodge of England announces its commitment to tackling climate change.  The UGLE’s new environmental policy is being led by CEO David Staples and will lead to the organisation minimising its contribution to pollution by reducing its carbon emissions and waste, together with recycling, reusing and reducing wherever possible.

The organisation will assess the adverse effects of all operations on the environment and seek ways to minimise them. It aims to achieve ISO 14001 certification in environmental management systems within the next ten years.

In addition, the UGLE will introduce procurement practice and investment strategy criteria based on a minimum environmental standard; promote environmental awareness to staff; and monitor, report and reduce its carbon emissions annually.

Dr David Staples said: "We are taking all reasonable steps to reduce our carbon emissions and environmental commitments will be an integral part of our day-to-day activities. We will also seek ways to continually improve our environmental performance and operate responsibly, including reducing waste and making reductions in our carbon emissions from heat, power and travel. This new initiative makes sense environmentally, ethically and economically.

"The environment in which we work and live has never been subject to as much change as it is now experiencing. Population growth, use of finite resources and greenhouse gas emissions are taking their toll in many ways, not least through climate change and pollution. Global temperatures continue to rise as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increase and pollution through waste generation continues."

Individual departments at UGLE will each be responsible for specific elements of the project. The director of facilities will deliver all activities and implement a central reporting mechanism to allow senior managers to be informed about environmental issues within the organisation. The senior management team will review progress on environmental issues at least twice per year. At the same time, all staff members will responsible for complying with the new policy and supporting efforts to minimise the UGLE’s impact on the environment.


Essex Freemasons Men’s Health Day 2021

With eighteen months of pushbacks due to the pandemic, a determined Essex Freemasons Provincial Almoner’s Team partnered with CHAPS, the Men’s Health Charity, and the NHS to hold the latest of their health check days. These events have become popular among Freemasons with their families and friends. A range of screens and tests are offered, free of charge, to determine overall personal health status and give help in seeking early treatment should any anomalies be found.

On Wednesday 27th October 2021 at Essex County Cricket Ground in Chelmsford close to 300 individual PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests were undertaken, 200 combined tests for heart, skin cancer and overall health, plus more than 400 attendees, with over 20% who were not Freemasons, were able to learn about a range of associated issues with health professionals on hand to assist. Of the total number of tests taken only 22 needed further investigation and the individuals concerned have been notified and the appropriate follow up is being made.

Paul Tarrant, the Provincial Grand Master (PGM) of Essex Freemasons, was one of the first to register for the event. On behalf of everyone who attended, Paul conveyed his appreciation to the Provincial Almoner’s Team for all their hard work in making sure the event took place and was so successful.

The PGM pointed out “The value of the health checks cannot be under-estimated. The work undertaken by all involved on these important days enables everyone who attends an opportunity to catch any problems early, seek treatment and move on in a positive direction. There is no doubt that these events help ensure that one year ahead some of those who attend will be in a far healthier state than had they not attended. I would urge everyone to go along whenever the opportunity is provided.”

Gary Hostler, the Provincial Grand Almoner, added: “It’s been a long time coming but I am delighted that the event has gone so well. The success of the day is inspiring and I should like to pay tribute to my Team and especially those who have worked so hard in the build-up and on the day. We must also thank everyone at CHAPS and all the healthcare professionals who partnered with us for their valuable input.”

The Essex Men’s Health Day 2021 was sponsored by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund with the cost of every PSA test at approximately £20 each being covered by the fund. The Freemasons gave over £51 million in 2020 for charitable and community work and do more than 18 million hours of volunteering each year. Other similar events are being considered for those who were unable to attend on the day and the Provincial Almoner’s Team will be in touch with further details when they are available.

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