A history of giving
We trace the origins of the four masonic charities that have come together to form the new Masonic Charitable Foundation
The four masonic charities have been integral to the Craft, providing crucial support to Freemasons, their families and the wider community. However, the existence of four separate organisations – each with its own distinct processes for providing support – hindered the development of a truly joined-up and consistent approach. After much consideration it has therefore been decided to launch a major new charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). From 1 April 2016, the Foundation will take over the work of the central masonic charities, providing a wide range of grants to Freemasons and their families who have a financial, health or care need. The Foundation will also award grants to other charities, medical research studies and disaster relief appeals.
The Foundation will ensure that the masonic charitable support network, which has provided assistance for centuries, remains fit for purpose and able to adapt to the needs of new generations. As we look to the future, it is worth remembering how the current four charities have evolved and how, under the banner of the MCF, cradle-to-grave support will remain in place for Freemasons and their dependants.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
Soon after the Grand Master’s installation in 1967, he commissioned a review of the masonic charities. It recommended that a new central charity be established to contribute to society as a whole, befitting the importance and scale of English Freemasonry. In 1980, the Grand Charity was established. It also assumed responsibility for UGLE’s Board of Benevolence, whose origins were found in the first Committee of Charity of Grand Lodge, formed in 1725.
With grants totalling more than £120 million, the Grand Charity has improved the lives of thousands of masons and their dependants, and has made extensive contributions to wider society, funding the causes that are important to members of the Craft. It has enabled Provinces to demonstrate their commitment to local communities through matched giving schemes, grants to The Scout Association and millions in hospice and Air Ambulance giving. Its multimillion-pound research funding has aided numerous medical breakthroughs.
The Grand Charity has brought far-reaching benefits to masonic fundraising by establishing the Relief Chest Scheme to promote efficient and tax-effective giving. The Craft has saved thousands of pounds in administration costs and donations have been significantly increased through Gift Aid. The scheme has also enabled members to come together following worldwide disasters, funding recovery projects in devastated areas on behalf of Freemasonry as a whole. Indeed, £1 million was raised following the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Through the Grand Charity’s giving, thousands have felt the positive impact of masonic charity and over the past 35 years in particular, Freemasonry has increasingly been seen publicly as a philanthropic leader, supporting many great causes.
Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
From its origins as a school for girls, the RMTGB has worked for over 227 years to relieve poverty and advance the education of thousands of children from masonic families across the UK, as well as tens of thousands of children from wider society. The Trust has spent over £130 million on charitable support over the past 15 years alone.
In 1788, Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini established the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, supporting 15 daughters of distressed or deceased Freemasons. A provision for boys was introduced soon after, and over the next 200 years the institutions’ schools expanded and relocated. Eventually, the boys’ school closed, the girls’ school became independent, and the trustees focused on supporting children at schools near their own homes.
In 1982, the boys’ and girls’ institutions came together to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, later the RMTGB.
Over time, the Trust moved from fixed financial grants to packages of support tailored to each family’s circumstances. Innovative schemes were also introduced for youngsters with specific talents and needs.
The Trust’s support also extends beyond the masonic community. In 1988, £100,000 was awarded to Great Ormond Street Hospital, with major grants given ever since. Since the launch of the Stepping Stones non-masonic grant-making scheme in 2010, almost £1 million has been awarded to charities that aim to reduce the impact of poverty on education. The Trust also provides premises and support services for Lifelites, which equips children’s hospices across the British Isles with fun, assistive technology. Established as the Trust’s Millennium Project, Lifelites became an independent charity in 2006.
Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
The RMBI cares for older Freemasons and their families, as well as people in the community. The history of the charity dates back to 1842 when UGLE inaugurated the Royal Masonic Benevolent Annuity Fund for men, followed by the Female Annuity Fund in 1849. The first home was opened the following year and the RMBI was officially established. In the early 1960s, provision was extended to non-annuitants and between 1960 and 1986, a further 13 homes were set up. The RMBI now provides a home for more than 1,000 people across England and Wales, while supporting many more.
At the heart of the RMBI is the commitment to deliver services that uphold an individual’s dignity. Its Experiential Learning training programme requires all new carers to complete a series of practical scenarios in order to better understand residents and has even received national news coverage for its unique approach. The RMBI is also recognised for its excellence in specialist dementia care services, which are increasingly in demand. Nine RMBI homes have been awarded Butterfly Service status, a national quality-of-life ‘kitemark’, by Dementia Care Matters.
None of this could be achieved without a dedicated team, and an RMBI staff member recently received the Care Trainer Award at the 2015 Great British Care Awards in recognition of such commitment. The support and time given by each home’s Association of Friends is also a unique part of the RMBI. The associations – volunteer groups of local masons that work to complement resident services – are independently registered charities and their efforts over the years have ranged from fundraising for home minibuses and resident day trips, to sensory gardens and home entertainment.
Masonic Samaritan Fund
The Royal Masonic Hospital and its predecessor, the Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home, had a Samaritan Fund to support masons and their families who could not afford the cost of private medical treatment. In 1990 the MSF was established to take on the role of this fund, and in its early years benefited from many very generous donations, including a grant from the Grand Charity, and the highly successful Cornwallis and London Festival appeals.
Thanks to the support of Freemasons and their families, the MSF has been able to expand the assistance it provides to cater for the evolving health and care needs of its beneficiaries. In addition to funding medical treatment or surgery, grants are available to support respite breaks for carers, to restore dental function, to aid mobility and to provide access to trained counsellors.
Since 2010 the MSF has provided grants to major medical research projects. Notable successes have included enhancing the diagnosis of prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as support for those suffering from macular degeneration.
Each year the MSF helps more masonic families fund the health and care support they need to live healthy and independent lives. Since 1990 more than 12,000 Freemasons and their family members have been helped at a total cost of over £67 million.
Funded entirely through the generous donations of the masonic community, the Masonic Charitable Foundation will seek to continue the excellent work of the central masonic charities and be able to respond more effectively to the changing needs of masonic families and other charitable organisations. For more information, go to www.mcf.org.uk
Charting the history of the four masonic charities
1725 The premier Grand Lodge sets up the Committee of Charity
1788 The Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, named after the Duchess of Cumberland, is founded by Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini
1789 The first anniversary of the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School is celebrated with a church service and dinner. Collections are taken, making this the first fundraising ‘festival’ for a masonic charity
1798 Inspired by Ruspini’s achievements, William Burwood and the United Mariners Lodge establish a fund to support the sons of Freemasons
1814 Soon after the union of the Grand Lodges, the Committee of Charity joins with other committees relieving hardship among masons to become the Board of Benevolence
1850 The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) is established, and the first RMBI home opens in East Croydon
1904 ‘Out-relief’ is introduced so that those not admitted to the masonic schools can receive grants to support their education elsewhere
1914 It is decided that the daughters of serving Freemasons who die or are incapacitated during WWI should receive a grant of £25 per year
1920 The Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home opens
1933 The Royal Masonic Hospital opens at Ravenscourt Park
1934 The girls’ school moves to Rickmansworth Park. The school is officially opened by HM Queen Mary with 5,000 ladies and brethren in attendance
1966 Devonshire Court opens in Oadby, Leicestershire
1967 Scarbrough Court opens in Cramlington, Northumberland
1968 Prince George Duke of Kent Court opens in Chislehurst, Kent
1971 Connaught Court opens in Fulford, York
1973 The Bagnall Report recommends that the boys’ school is closed and that the girls’ school becomes independent
1973 Lord Harris Court opens in Sindlesham, Berkshire, and Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court opens in Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan
1977 Ecclesholme opens in Eccles, Manchester, and The Tithebarn opens in Great Crosby, Liverpool
1979 Queen Elizabeth Court opens in Llandudno, Conwy
1980 The Grand Charity is established
1980 James Terry Court opens in Croydon, Surrey
1981 Cornwallis Court opens in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
1982 The masonic institutions for girls and boys merge their activities to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
1983 Zetland Court opens in Bournemouth, Dorset
1984 Grand Charity hospice support begins
1986 The Grand Charity establishes the Relief Chest Scheme
1986 Cadogan Court opens in Exeter, South Devon
1990 The Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) is established, assisted by a £1.2 million grant from the Grand Charity
1992 275th anniversary of Grand Lodge
1992 The Grand Charity awards more than £2 million to charities that care for people with learning difficulties
1994 UGLE recommends that all masonic organisations adopt the Relief Chest Scheme
1994 Prince Michael of Kent Court opens in Watford, Hertfordshire
1994 The Cornwallis Appeal raises £3.2 million for the MSF
1995 Shannon Court opens in Hindhead, Surrey
1996 Barford Court opens in Hove, East Sussex
1997 Total annual expenditure for Masonic Relief Grants exceeds £2 million for the first time
1998 Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court opens in Braintree, Essex
1999 To commemorate the millennium, the Grand Charity donates more than £2 million to good causes
1999 Lifelites is established by the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys as a Millennium Project to provide assistive and educational technology packages for children’s hospices across the British Isles
1999 The London Festival Appeal for the MSF raises £10.6 million
2000 Following the abolition of Local Authority student grants, the Trust establishes an undergraduate aid scheme to support disadvantaged young people at university. Almost 500 students are assisted during the first year of the scheme, rising to almost 1,000 by 2003
2001 The TalentAid scheme is introduced by the Trust to support young people with an exceptional talent in music, sport or the arts, with 75 supported in the first year
2003 The Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys becomes the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB)
2004 The Grand Charity donates £1 million for research into testicular and prostate cancers
2005 More than £1 million is donated by Freemasons and the Grand Charity to help with recovery efforts following the Asian tsunami
2006 Lifelites becomes a registered charity
2007 Special funding for Air Ambulances begins
2008 All four central masonic charities move into shared office space in Freemasons’ Hall, London
2008 The Grand Charity donates £500,000 to The Scout Association, enabling more than 23,000 young people to join, and £1 million to Ovarian Cancer Action
2008 Scarbrough Court reopens in Cramlington, Northumberland (rebuilt on its original site)
2008 The MSF makes its first grant in support of medical research, and respite care grants are introduced
2010 Stepping Stones, the RMTGB’s non-masonic grant-making scheme, is introduced to support disadvantaged youngsters
2010 MSF dental care grants are introduced
2013 James Terry Court reopens in Croydon, Surrey (rebuilt on its original site)
2013 The MSF Counselling Careline service launches
2015 Following a 30-year partnership, the Grand Charity’s grants to the British Red Cross now exceed £2 million
2015 The MSF marks its 25th anniversary by awarding over £1 million for medical research
2016 The four masonic charities join together to form the Masonic Charitable Foundation
Letters to the Editor - No. Spring 2016
I was surprised and delighted to see a photo in the winter 2015 edition of Freemasonry Today of a group of nurses at the Royal Masonic Hospital taken in 1958. The group includes my wife on the right at the end of the patient’s bed. I can still name several of the other nurses.
At the time, I was an undergraduate at Cambridge and I frequently travelled to see her at the hospital nurses’ home at Ravenscourt Park. I am pleased to say that we are still happily married after 53 years.
Tony Kallend, Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Investing in the future
RMBI care homes Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno and Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford have been recognised with a prestigious award for their care of people living with dementia
The Butterfly Service status is a nationally recognised ‘kitemark’ awarded by Dementia Care Matters to identify care homes that are committed to delivering excellent dementia care and providing residents with a high quality of life.
Only a handful of care homes in the UK have been awarded the status, and Queen Elizabeth Court and Prince Michael of Kent Court now join four other RMBI care homes around the country to have received the award.
RMBI care homes Devonshire Court in Leicester, Shannon Court in Surrey, Barford Court in Hove and Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex have also received the Butterfly Service status.
Debra Keeling, RMBI Deputy Director of Care Operations, said, ‘To have been awarded the Butterfly Service status is testament to the dedication of our care home staff providing exceptional care. We have made a substantial investment in dementia care training for staff and hold regular events and initiatives for our residents as part of our drive to support their welfare and wellbeing.’
Debra believes that the award demonstrates the RMBI’s commitment to delivering innovative care techniques to maintain the highest quality of life for its residents, as well as putting solid foundations in place to continue to provide excellent care as the number of those with dementia increases over the next few years.
‘As a charity we have been working closely with Dementia Care Matters since 2009, and with a number of other specialist dementia providers to deliver our dementia care strategy,’ said Debra. ‘Dementia Care Matters works with care providers with the aim of improving the quality of life for residents of care homes – not only for those with dementia, but also for the other residents living in the same home.’
Putting the pieces back together
A new way of treating dementia recommends that you concentrate on creating the best possible quality of life for people. Andrew Gimson finds out how RMBI homes are pioneering groundbreaking techniques in dementia care
Helen Walton speaks with some emotion as she discusses providing good quality care for people living with dementia. As operations director at Dementia Care Matters, an organisation that has become closely involved in the provision of dementia care in the homes run by the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI), Walton draws a sharp distinction between the right and wrong approach.
Care has traditionally been very institutionalised; huge importance is attached to routine and the atmosphere in some homes is sterile. People with dementia are treated as passive recipients from whom no initiative is expected.
Walton is deeply concerned that this kind of care still exists today, which can leave people sitting in their chairs staring into space. She believes strongly that it can be different, that instead of being run with the greatest possible efficiency, homes can concentrate on creating the best possible quality of life. She emphasises that although people living with dementia may have lost their capacity for logical thought, ‘their feelings are enhanced – feelings are what they have left, and are stronger than before’.
For Walton, staff must encourage rather than repress the natural inclinations of those they look after. The first step is to relax any barriers between staff and residents. In a home where Dementia Care Matters is called in to advise, the staff will get rid of their uniforms and the main meal of the day will be eaten together. Once this happens, it will not necessarily be apparent who is a member of staff and who is a resident. The two groups will be running the home together as friends.
Debra Keeling joined the RMBI four and a half years ago. In her role as deputy director of care she has a brief to bring in exactly this approach. She is ‘hugely encouraged’ by the progress that has been made: ‘The people who live in our homes are now becoming much more involved. We’re really developing communities.’
Joining their reality
The RMBI has seventeen homes in England and Wales, accommodating more than one thousand residents. Louise Baxter is home manager at an RMBI home, Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex. She tells the story of Nina Wainwright, who arrived in the dementia support unit in 2008. Mrs Wainwright, who was suffering from early to mid-stage dementia, had great difficulty settling in. Like many people, she felt disorientated by leaving her own home. She would ask: ‘What is this place? Why am I here?’
The staff became increasingly worried about her happiness and welfare, so they arranged with the catering contractor for Mrs Wainwright to start working in the kitchen. Each morning, she comes downstairs, goes to the kitchen and starts to wash up and make herself useful. She believes she lives upstairs in her flat and is employed to undertake washing up as well as some waitressing duties. This has given her a sense of purpose and allowed her to feel once more in control of her life. Staff ‘join Mrs Wainwright in her reality’ – they do not seek to disabuse her of her beliefs.
Baxter believes that her diploma course with Dementia Care Matters has certainly given her the confidence to join people in their reality without being accused of infantilising them. ‘It allowed me to work in the way I’d always wanted to.’
‘If a resident asks for her mother, you could say: “Tell me about her. She sounds very special”’ Debra Keeling
Conventional methods for treating dementia would confront the person with reality. When they asked for their mother, for example, they would be stood in front of a mirror and shown they were clearly far too old for their mother to still be alive.
Nowadays, there is a different approach. When a resident with dementia says they want to go home, the best thing to do is open the door and let them go outside. ‘Once they’re outside, the urgency to get out is gone,’ says Baxter. ‘You can then go and rescue them by saying something like: “Oh hello, Mrs Jones. I live next to you. Would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me?”’
There are parallels between the care of children and those with dementia. If a child is playing a game that depends on imagining that a toy is real, you do not ruin things by telling them to stop being so stupid, the model car is not real. Rather, you enter into the child’s world in the same way that you should with a person with dementia.
Keeling agrees: ‘While you should never lie to people with dementia, if a resident asks for her mother, you could say: “Tell me about your mother. She sounds very special. Do you have a photograph of her?”’ The RMBI has sent one or two people from each of its homes to take the diploma run by Dementia Care Matters, while everyone else – from gardeners to trustees – have attended courses run by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Dementia Care Matters has awarded Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court its Butterfly Services kite mark. Launched in 2010, the kite mark is conferred after unannounced visits by auditors who ‘observe the quality of interaction between staff and people’ in a home. Six of the RMBI’s homes have received the award and this work is of the greatest value. By showing that there is a better way to look after people with dementia, the RMBI and Dementia Care Matters are performing a public service of inestimable value.
Flying high – the butterfly kite mark
In recognition of their excellent care for people with dementia, five RMBI homes have been awarded the Butterfly Service status kite mark
The RMBI is committed to making its dementia care service exceptional, and substantial investment in training for staff over the past three years is now benefitting the ever-increasing number of people with the condition who are living in RMBI care homes.
A number of the homes, including the dementia support units at Cornwallis Court in Suffolk, Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex, Devonshire Court in Leicester, Shannon Court in Hindhead and Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court in Mid Glamorgan, have received the acclaimed Butterfly Service status kite mark, which is nationally recognised and awarded by Dementia Care Matters.
Dementia Care Matters works with care providers to improve the quality of life for those residents living with dementia. They believe that care should focus on people, rather than policies, and this is tested through unannounced visits by trained impartial auditors. The audits are carried out using a qualitative observational tool, and homes that demonstrate exceptional dementia care achieve the Butterfly Service status. The goal is to make sure that all RMBI homes with a specialist dementia support unit work to obtain the award.