Freemasons are leading a project to help up to 33,000 adult, young and parent carers, with donations of more than £715,000.

According to Carers UK, the number of carers grew exponentially during the pandemic, reaching more than 13 million. The helping hand from the Freemasons is supporting them with essential items, life skills, counselling, crisis support, activities and breaks.

Approximately 20,000 unpaid carers in Bedfordshire are receiving access to crucial support online, funded by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) the governing body of the freemasons, freeing up staff to help those who are most in need.

The UGLE is also working to protect young carers, who are under increasing pressure as they support family members during lockdown.

In particular, the freemasons project is providing 870 young carers with respite through activities and breaks, while 760 young carers are being provided with essential items and life skills. Elsewhere, almost 100 schools are receiving assistance to identify hidden young carers and provide support.

In total, more than 1,800 young carers are receiving advice, support and information.

In addition to their support for young carers, the freemasons are providing funding for crisis support, advice and information to almost 3,000 adult carers. Meanwhile, the project is also assisting 1,050 parent carers with advice and support.

Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said:

“These have been very difficult times for everyone and especially for carers. With the donations, we are helping with training, counselling, support, mental and physical health, as well as activities to reduce stress.

“We want to recognise the enormous contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. They do their best because they want to make a difference and care deeply for their family members.”

The United Grand Lodge of England said freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £48m to deserving causes in 2018 alone. Adding that freemasons do not only donate money – more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work were undertaken by freemasons in 2018.