One of our biggest activities this year was unexpected: responding to the growing humanitarian and refugee crisis in Ukraine. On behalf of Freemasonry, the MCF reacted within days of the invasion with a grant of £50,000 to the British Red Cross. The MCF and UGLE then launched a fundraising appeal within Freemasonry that raised £500,000 within days with funds allocated to support the work of aid agencies working in the affected areas, as well as initiatives and projects in England and Wales. It has been incredible to see how much Freemasonry has stepped up!
This year we also celebrated our strategic partnership with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at a special event in Freemasons’ Hall in the presence of HRH the Duke of Kent, Grand Master, and HRH the Earl of Wessex. The grant of £300,000 was funded by Freemasons through an appeal in 2021 in memory of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, a Freemason for over 60 years. This funding will allow over 30,000 children and young people with special educational needs to take part in the highly regarded Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and we look forward to exploring further opportunities to support them in the future.
As we conclude our first five-year strategy, it is remarkable to think of all that the MCF has achieved. More than 8,000 households have been supported, in addition to more than 3,000 charities across England and Wales that received a grant from the MCF on behalf of Freemasonry. In total, our charitable support over this period has exceeded £100M.
Throughout this time, we have continued to work alongside our partners, including the RMBI Care Co. and its 17 Care Homes across England and Wales – in 2021-22 we provided charitable support for 222 residents. We also stepped up our practical assistance to Lifelites – a charity established by Freemasonry to provide assistive technology to disabled children using hospice services – by inviting their team to work within our offices. In addition, the MCF continues to support the national coordination of the 47 regional Teddies for Loving Care programmes across England and Wales that donate teddies for children attending A&E departments.
We want to deliver the same scope and scale of support in the future and have started to develop strategic plans that will direct the MCF’s charitable activities over the next few years. An important aspect of the strategy development process is the need to compliment the aims and objectives of the United Grand Lodge of England. We look forward to discussing these proposals within Freemasonry – in particular at our AGM and Members’ meetings – as well as our partners in the charity sector and beyond.
We will of course be preparing this new strategy during a growing cost-of-living crisis and our Masonic Support team is looking at ways to provide extra help to those hardest hit. As always, the MCF remains here to help people with financial, family, health or care needs and offer funding for charities through our grants programmes. We are very much open for business. If you or someone you know might benefit from our support, please do not hesitate to contact us.
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of our former President, Richard Hone QC. Richard had only recently retired as our President following 19 years of service to the MCF and previously The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Richard made an enormous contribution to our work and will be greatly missed. We welcome James Long TD who was appointed President of the MCF in April 2022 and look forward to working with him as we begin to develop our new strategy. On the wider Trustee board, we marked the retirement of Ian Sabin, Tim Dallas-Chapman and David Watson – we thank them and wish them all the best for the future.
Finally, following the suspension of activities during the pandemic, it has been a pleasure to see Freemasons meeting in Lodges and at social gatherings once more. In particular, we have enjoyed attending the final events of Festival Appeals which continue to raise vital funds for our work – thank you to all our supporters and donors.
We hope you enjoy reading this Impact Report and agree that the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ charity is truly building better lives.
Sir Paul Williams, OBE, KStJ, DL
Deputy President and Chairman