Freemasons volunteering at Shefford Vaccination Centre Image:Provincial Grand Lodge of Bedfordshire

Faced with the greatest global pandemic in living memory, Freemasons across the country came together in 2020 and donated a total of £1m, as well as their time, to help those in need.

The donations were used to help communities in various critical areas. Including foodbanks, support for unpaid carers, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women’s refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances and equipment.

Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), said:

“No one in this day and age should have to worry where their next meal is coming from. We are so glad that we were able to provide thousands of families across the UK with a hot meal or food donations to help get them through this current crisis.

“Freemasons have achieved all of this in just a few months and have also given their time to produce and deliver food to the vulnerable.”

In Bedfordshire, the following charities received much needed support so they could continue their work during the lockdowns:

  • Leighton Linslade Homeless Shelter £1,000
  • SERV Herts & Beds Blood bikes £1,000
  • Dine with us on the Streets £1,500
  • Go Dharmic Welfare UK £1,500
  • Music 24 £500
  • Preen Biggleswade £1,000
  • Luton Foodbank £1,000
  • Leighton Linslade Helpers £1,000
  • Hospice at Home Volunteers £500
  • Sign-Post – Luton £1,000

Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas, where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.

To help protect women and children from domestic abuse, Freemasons donated more than £165,000 in 2020. The donation helped more than 2,000 women during the lockdown, who received more than 1,000 parcels containing essential items for women fleeing domestic abuse.

Bedfordshire has five women’s refuges, and £5,000 was donated to supply each with 25 shopping vouchers to enable the individuals to buy essential items for themselves and their children.

Elsewhere, to support thousands of families struggling during the crisis, Freemasons donated 300,000 meals and 38 tonnes of food to homeless people, women’s refuges and vulnerable people, supporting more than 120,000 people in total. Moreover, £560,000 was donated to provide meals and help numerous foodbanks.

Bedfordshire’s foodbanks have all seen an increase in demand during the pandemic, and we have supported them with donations of both food and funds.

  • Leighton Linslade Foodbank £500
  • Dunstable Food Bank £1,000
  • Bedford Food Bank £1,000
  • Need Food Bank (Central Bedfordshire) £2,250

Dr Staples said:

“Our response to the Pandemic shows what Freemasonry is all about; supporting those in need, giving back to our communities and volunteering where it can make a real difference.

“Freemasons have been doing this for over 300 years and I am proud of the time and commitment that our members have given to support the nation in its fight against COVID-19.”

In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing COVID-19 crisis response.

Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners.

More than 40,000 homeless individuals are being provided with food and essentials, transport, help with accessing services such as counselling and healthcare, as well as employment and training opportunities.

Go Dharmic volunteers distribute meals in Luton Image:Provincial Grand Lodge of Bedfordshire