The Scrip Purse

Download a copy of the October 2018 edition of The Scrip Purse HERE

the-scrip-purse-oct-16

THE SCRIP PURSE

An occasional newsletter for Middlesex Lodge and Chapter Almoners

OCTOBER 2018
FROM THE PROVINCIAL ALMONER

I hope you had a good summer – although I imagine that for most of us it is a fast receding memory !

As daylight shortens and the weather becomes more challenging, please remember to keep in contact with widows, also with Brethren who are no longer able to attend meetings.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) continues to provide support to Middlesex Brethren, families and widows, and since April this year, grants totalling £94,442 have been awarded to 69 applicants.

Also, 9 of the 25 Middlesex Brethren/widows in RMBI Homes receive MCF support towards their residency fees at a cost so far this financial year of £71,174 – so the total figure for MCF grants to Middlesex applicants so far this financial year is £165,616.

A further 3 individuals have received support from the Middlesex Province Relief Fund for minor grants that fall outside the remit of the MCF.

These have covered small but greatly appreciated grants for such things as a taxi fare to hospital prior to admission (to avoid a long a taxing tube journey), some “pocket money” for a Brother going on an MCF-funded holiday, and paying for refurbishment of the bedroom of a disabled wife.

Hugh Saville
Provincial Almoner

CHRISTMAS CARDS 2018

Once again, this year the MCF has supplied every Province with packs of Christmas cards for Almoners to send to widows and to Brethren who are no longer able to attend meetings.

Two years ago we ordered 50 packs, last year we increased it to 70, and this year we increased it to 100.

To our amazement and delight, this year virtually all the packs were ordered within 48 hours of their availability being announced, and we were especially pleased to see that a number of Chapter Almoners also ordered cards.

As demand exceeded supply this year, we are checking whether the MCF can let us have any more cards, so we can clear the waiting list. Irrespective, we will be ordering more than 100 packs next year !

PROSTATE CANCER TESTING

Several Almoners have asked whether there will be a repeat of the 2017 PSA testing programme.

The answer is that we remain aware of interest in further programmes, but the issue is how to pay for them.

The Middlesex Masonic Charity (MMC) provided funding to allow the 2017 tests to be offered to every Middlesex Brother who wanted one without charge to them, but MMC rules don’t allow them to consider funding the same thing unless there is a gap of at least 3 years.

Hence the question is whether Middlesex should follow the practice of several other Provinces where the tests are provided, but those attending are asked to make a suggested donation towards the cost (say, £20, which may be gift aided, and is only slightly above the actual costs of the test).

Then, if some Brethren genuinely couldn’t afford the full suggested donation, there should be sufficient from other donations to cover the cost of their test.

Equally, if there is a surplus, it would go to the Trust as a donation towards their ongoing work.

What do you think?

Meanwhile the scope of the Graham Fulford Trust Masonic testing scheme continues to grow since we first came across it 2 years ago.

The latest figures show that 9,855 Freemasons have now been tested, and 128 prostate cancers discovered.

8 of these were picked up in the 2017 Middlesex screening programme.

THINGS TO MENTION TO YOUR MEMBERS

It’s not always easy to be sure when showing an interest in other Brethren’s personal arrangements becomes intrusive, but there are a couple of things you might mention in the Lodge/Chapter when giving your reports.

These relate to making a Will, and having a lasting power of attorney in place.

From time to time we experience occasions where a Brother has died without having made a Will.

That creates a significant complication for those left behind who are trying to settle his financial affairs, and it may also place considerable pressure on family at a time when they really don’t need it. Hence it is worth highlighting to your members the importance that every Brother makes a Will, whilst also ensuring that if they have made a Will in the past, it is still “current” (I discovered recently that I am Executor in a Will where the interests of a small child had to be protected – yet he is now 43!!!).

Nowadays it is extremely easy (and relatively inexpensive) to make a Will, so Brethren and Companions should not be put off doing so.

It is also very important to consider putting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, as this allows others nominated in advance by the individual to look after their financial interests and/or health and welfare, should they succumb to illness or injury.

Whilst this is particularly relevant where a person has a degenerative illness such as Alzheimer’s, Motor Neurone Disease or dementia, it can be equally helpful where someone has suffered a major stroke or accident that has caused injury to their brain.

Hence establishing an LPA is not only something for the elderly to do, but for anyone.

Full details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney Applications can be completed on-line, and the above scheme is administered by the Government.

ON-LINE RESOURCES FROM THE MCF

In modern society there are a number of illnesses and pressures that are gaining a much higher profile.

These include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc, and may occur in younger and physically fit men and women.

Such conditions are not always obvious to others (although emotionally crippling to the sufferer) because the sufferer doesn’t look ill, but actually can be in great distress.

The MCF offers support for people in such situations, so please ensure your members are aware of what’s on offer.

They may want to make a direct approach to the MCF because they may not wish to tell anyone else that they feel unwell.

All they have to do is phone the number below:

– A counselling care line.

This is very easy to access, completely confidential and free of charge.

The enquirer just has to call the MCF care line (Freephone 0800 035 6090) and ask about counselling support, which is provided by specialists not employed by the MCF.

A number of sessions (up to 6) close to the applicant’s home or by phone may be offered.

Full details are at: https://mcf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Advice-Support.pdf

There is also a useful video link about mental health in general.

It is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNPIlglBQbA

– Awareness and acceptance of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) as a very distressing condition is (fortunately) increasing, not only amongst serving and retired members of the armed forces, but also in anyone who has suffered a traumatic event (such as a being in, witnessing or assisting at major accident or a fire).

It can also affect people in the emergency services (serving and retired).

Treatments for the effects of trauma can be more specialised than for anxiety, and the MCF offers guidance as follows: https://mcf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Trauma-factsheet.pdf

There is also a video link as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIv7f8uLMqI

ALZHEIMERS DISEASE AND DEMENTIA

Probably every Almoner knows someone who has been diagnosed with dementia.

The MCF and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) are very conscious of the demands that dementia places not only on the sufferer, but also on those closest to them.

The MCF offers certain dementia-related support services, whilst increasingly, the RMBI provides specialist care for dementia sufferers in their residential homes.

The RMBI has recently appointed a highly experienced Alzheimer’s/dementia specialist, and I am at the early stages of arranging for her to visit Middlesex to speak about the illnesses.

Her talks are primarily for Almoners, but could be opened also to any Brother or Companion with a family member or close friend who has been given the diagnosis.

Would you support such an event, if it were provided ?

Please let me know

ALMONER TRAINING

Whilst we held two Almoner training sessions earlier this year, there is always a demand for more of them – or at least, for occasions when Almoners can meet together and exchange ideas.

To facilitate this, we plan to invite Mike Martin, Provincial Engagement Manager at the MCF to Middlesex to lead a couple of evening workshop sessions for Almoners.

Mike is not only a very experienced member of the MCF team, but he is also a very engaging speaker.

He’s also a Freemason !

The workshops would be more interactive than a training session, so those attending would have every opportunity to participate with questions and comments.

I will let you know when I have more details.

Finally, and as always, thank you for all your hard work.

There are a considerable number of Middlesex Freemasons, widow and dependents who have been very grateful for the diligence and kindness of a Lodge or Chapter Almoner at times of great need.

You can, and really do, make a difference!

HUGH SAVILLE
Provincial Almoner

MAY 2018
FROM THE PROVINCIAL ALMONER

We are fast approaching the time when Freemasonry closes down for a summer break – although Almoner cases and applications will continue to come in.

Hence this is an opportune moment to keep in touch with you all and to update you on things that have happened, or are soon to do so.

As always, your feedback is most welcome, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any comments about your role as an Almoner, or if you want specific items covered in future editions of the “Scrip Purse”.

To give you an idea of the extent of Masonic charity to Middlesex recipients, the annual MCF statistics for their financial year ending 31st March have been published, and show that in the financial year 2017/18, 146 Middlesex recipients received grants totalling £249,160.

This was a significant increase over 2016/17, when 134 recipients received a total of £170,100.

Also, 10 of the 26 Middlesex Brethren/widows in RMBI Homes receive MCF support towards their residency fees at a cost last year of £140,740 – so the total figure for MCF grants to Middlesex applicants in the last financial year was actually £389,900.

My thanks to all of you who attended the Almoner training seminars in Twickenham and Harrow on the first and second Saturdays in March. Hopefully they were useful.

I wish all of you have a happy and restful summer.

Hugh Saville
Provincial Almoner

RETENTION OF OLD CASE RECORDS

I imagine that you too are currently being bombarded with emails relating to GDPR, so it is timely to remind you of your responsibilities and obligations relating to retention of case files.

The Province will announce their GDPR position via Lodge Secretaries and Chapter Scribe Es, so you should note it when received.

Otherwise, there are no special instructions to Almoners, other than the procedure you MUST follow with respect to retention of files (electronic or otherwise) relating to old applications to the Masonic charities for assistance.

Whilst many Almoners may never be called upon to assist with an application, some of you are, and inevitably that will have resulted in emails or letters being generated, and private financial or medical data collated.

Sometimes this highly sensitive personal information is filed away by the Almoner.

This must no longer happen.

Any application or award that has been decided by the Charity(s) is considered to be “dead”.

If the application was made to the former Masonic Charities (Grand Charity, Masonic Samaritan Fund, RMTGB or RMBI), all details of it will have been transferred onto the new the Masonic Charitable Foundation secure database.

If the application was more recent (since the formation of the Masonic Charitable Foundation), the same thing will have happened.

Hence there is no need whatsoever for any Lodge or Chapter Almoner to retain electronic or hard copy records of past cases, and you must not do it.

If you do, there is a risk that the information could be accessed by unauthorised individuals, and you would be held liable for any consequences of that.

Thus, if you have any old application or case records, please ensure they are securely destroyed (if hard copies) or deleted from your computers.

You can do this safe in the knowledge that all relevant information you have been holding is stored on the MCF database, so if a previous applicant reapplies to them, they will have the full history of past claims.

PROSTATE CANCER TESTING

You may recall that a total of 538 Middlesex Freemasons received a PSA test at sessions in late May/early June last year at Twickenham and Harrow.

Those tests have since led to the identification of 7 Middlesex Brethren/Companions with prostate cancer, and it was also found that prostate cancer had returned in one other Middlesex Brother who had been treated several years ago.

The Graham Fulford Trust Masonic testing scheme has grown considerably since we first came across it 18 months ago.

The latest figures show that 8752 Freemasons have now been tested, and 95 prostate cancers discovered.

WIDOWS

May I please seek your assistance in promoting two forthcoming events to all your Lodge or Chapter widows?

Both events offer widows an opportunity to get out and meet other widows and Freemasons.

It is very important that our widows do not feel forgotten or excluded, and making them aware of Provincial events will help them to feel that they are still part of the Middlesex “family”.

The events are:

Widow’s tea party at Uxbridge Masonic Centre on Wednesday 27th June.

Full details appear below, and please can you make a special effort to contact all your widows who live in Middlesex (or East Berks or Bucks) to let them know it is taking place?

It doesn’t cost them anything to attend, and the tea is also open to Brethren widowers at a cost of only £8.50.

A lot of work goes into organising the tea, and it is an excellent opportunity for widows (and widowers) to go to a social occasion and perhaps make new friends (or catch up with old ones). Here are the details:

Widows-Tea-Party-2018-Poster

Annual Provincial Church Service at St Albans Abbey on Sunday 4th November

Those widows who attend the Annual Church Service invariably enjoy both the ceremonial and the service, together with the opportunity to meet Brethren and friends, so please can you ensure that you make all your widows aware of it. I’m sure that those who may struggle to get there might be given lifts by members of your Lodge or Chapter.
Hugh Saville
Finally, as always, thank you for all your hard work. There are a considerable number of Middlesex Freemasons, widow and dependents who have been very grateful for the diligence and kindness of a Lodge or Chapter Almoner at times of great need. You can, and really do, make a difference!

HUGH SAVILLE
Provincial Almoner


Download a copy of the October 2017 edition of The Scrip Purse HERE

the-scrip-purse-oct-16

THE SCRIP PURSE

An occasional newsletter for Middlesex Lodge and Chapter Almoners
OCTOBER 2017
FROM THE PROVINCIAL ALMONER

The summer break is probably a distant memory for most of us, but I hope you managed to find some decent weather, had a restful time and have returned refreshed.

You should have received a letter (electronically or by post) within the last couple of weeks in which the new working arrangements with the Masonic Charitable Foundation were explained in detail.

Hopefully, there is no need to say much more on the matter for now, but I remain pleased to answer any questions.

If you want to contact me, please either send me an email at middlesex.almoner@mibd.co.uk or phone or text me on 0788 759 3934.

This edition of the “Scrip Purse” is to update you things that we are working on, and – as always – your feedback is most welcome.

There is quite a lot happening, and steps are being taken both to improve the range of services we can offer members, dependents and widows, and improve communication with them – especially with widows.

The MCF are making special efforts to ensure they enhance contact with those facing loneliness and isolation.

Hugh Saville
Provincial Almoner

NEW EDITION OF THE ALMONER GUIDE

Following their reorganisation, the MCF has just published a new edition of the Almoner Guide, a copy of which will be sent to every Lodge and Chapter Almoner in Middlesex by the end of October. If you haven’t received your copy by 10th November, please contact me by email or by phone/text (details above). If you don’t receive your copy, or if it goes to someone else in your Lodge or Chapter, the Provincial records will be incorrect, and that will need to be rectified.

Meanwhile, every Almoner with email can visit the Almoner section of the MCF web site, which contains large amounts of information to assist you with a wide range of topics. The link is: https://mcf.org.uk/almoner

MCF CHRISTMAS CARDS

I am pleased to announce that the Masonic Charitable Foundation has again supplied packs of Christmas cards to Lodge and Chapter Almoners free of charge for their use when sending seasons’ greetings to members who are unable to attend the Lodge, and to accompany gifts to Lodge widows. Over the last couple of years, these Christmas cards have been much appreciated by Middlesex Almoners. If you want to order some for this year, please contact me by email at middlesex.almoner@mibd.co.uk or drop me a line at 211 Lincoln Avenue, Twickenham, TW2 6NL, stating both the number of packs required (there are 10 cards per pack, so we can only send them out in multiples of 10), and the address to which they should be sent. Please let me have all applications by no later than 18th November. First come, first served!

PROSTATE CANCER TESTING

A total of 538 Middlesex Freemasons received a PSA test at sessions in late May/early June at Twickenham and Harrow. Of these, 39 were told they had a “red” score (meaning they should seek immediate medical advice to establish the cause of a high PSA reading), 27 received an “amber” score (with a recommendation they have another PSA test in 3 to 6 months) and the remaining 472 had normal readings. The vast majority of those with a “red” score will not have cancer. It is far more likely they will have been suffering from an infection when tested, or they may have a benign yet enlarged prostate (the consequences of which can be treated with medication). Nevertheless, the cause of any high reading should be always be investigated.

It will still be another couple of months before we receive feedback on the number of actual cancers picked up from the Middlesex tests, because the Trust waits 6 months before they start to ask those who had high PSA scores about their outcomes. However, up until now, over 5300 Freemasons have been tested across Provinces in England and Wales, and to date, 51 cancers have been found. However, as over 1100 of the tests have taken place in the last 6 months, it is highly likely that, the number of cancers discovered and reported will rise noticeably over the next couple of months.

WIDOWS

The MCF are having a major campaign to address loneliness and isolation, and we in Middlesex are working towards offering much more to our widows in terms of support and social contact across the Province. It’s a sobering thought that there are well over 200 Middlesex widows who are no longer attached to Lodges and Chapters, because they have closed. These widows are well looked after by the Province, but inevitably, this number will increase as more units close down, so the task is getting bigger all the time.

Unlike some other Provinces, Middlesex doesn’t currently have a formal structure of Widows Clubs, although there are clubs at some Centres where widows can join social meetings and lunch clubs (for example the Western House Club in Uxbridge, and an equivalent club at Cole Court). Every June, Harrow Progress Lodge organises a widows (and widowers) tea at Uxbridge Centre, but the organisers have found it very difficult to publicise the event effectively across the Province. That is a shame, as transport is provided, and there are probably many widows (and widowed Brethren) who would like to attend. Widows don’t have to pay, but there is a small charge for widowed Brethren.

Ways to communicate better with widows are being explored, so we can ensure that all of them wishing to remain in contact can receive more information more quickly. It would be good to have some way to ensure that every widow is invited to Provincial events, such as the Annual Church Service and the Summer Fete. Also, if there are social events in the Province, these could be advertised more widely. Inevitably, increasingly onerous data protection issues must be considered, and ways are being explored to check what might be possible whilst keeping within data protection requirements.

SOME MORE FACTS FOR YOUR LODGE REPORT (IF EVER YOU ARE SHORT OF THINGS TO SAY!!)

• In 2017 (and especially since the MCF reorganisation), the number of enquiries for assistance they received has grown hugely. Last month (September), they received 893 enquiries. The equivalent figure in September 2016 was just 348.

• Last month (September), MCF grants awarded to Middlesex applicants totalled £15,000, and the total for this month (October) currently stands at £23,000. Many of these will be paid in instalments over the forthcoming year. These figures exclude any grants to meet residency costs of those in RMBI Homes.

• The RMBI has 1097 beds across 17 homes for older people. Occupancy rates for the current financial year (April – August 2017) averaged 89.68%, which is closely aligned to the care sector average.

• The average age of residents in RMBI Homes is just over 89. Over two thirds will experience some form of dementia, and staff training programmes have been adapted to ensure the RMBI are able to support people for as long as possible.

• Across the Homes, there are 38 residents over the age of 100.

• Currently, 29 residents of RMBI Homes are from the Province of Middlesex

Finally, as always, thank you for all your hard work. You may be assured that there are a considerable number of Middlesex Freemasons and their dependents who have been very grateful for the diligence and kindness of a Lodge or Chapter Almoner at times of great need. You can, and do, really make a difference!

HUGH SAVILLE
Provincial Almoner
Hugh Saville


Download a copy of the October 2016 edition of The Scrip Purse HERE

the-scrip-purse-oct-16

THE SCRIP PURSE

An occasional newsletter for Middlesex Lodge and Chapter Almoners
OCTOBER 2016
FROM THE PROVINCIAL ALMONER

This newsletter includes further details of changes taking place as the Masonic Charitable Foundation has absorbed and reorganised the four charities into a single charity.

This is proceeding on schedule, but there will be changes to the way that Lodge and Chapter Almoners operate.

Whilst some Almoners may see these as diluting their work, they are intended to relieve you of some administrative tasks and allow more time to concentrate on the key role you hold, which is to ensure that members and dependents in your Lodges and Chapters are well looked after in times of need.

Also, the changes only apply to grants for daily living expenses – so the mechanism for paying all other grants remains unchanged.

Hugh Saville
Provincial Almoner

MCF CHRISTMAS CARDS –

I am pleased to announce that the Masonic Charitable Foundation has again supplied packs of Christmas cards to Lodge and Chapter Almoners free of charge for their use when sending seasons’ greetings to members who are unable to attend the Lodge and to Lodge widows.

Last year the availability of the Christmas cards was much appreciated by Middlesex Almoners.

If you want to order cards, please contact me by email at middlesex.almoner@mibd.co.uk. or drop me a line at 211 Lincoln Avenue, Twickenham, TW2 6NL, stating both the number of packs required (there are 10 cards per pack) and the address to which they should be sent.

Please let me have all applications by no later than 18th November – First come, first served!

UPDATE ON CHANGES TO THE CENTRAL MASONIC CHARITIES –

As reported in previous issues of the “Scrip Purse”, a major change to the structure and operation of the Central Masonic Charities.

The four Central Masonic Charities have merged into a single charity called the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).

When the full process is complete, there will be certain differences in the ways that Provinces and Lodges interface with the MCF.

These were outlined in the last issue of the “Scrip Purse”, so if you don’t have access to it, please let me know and I will forward it to you.

The current status of the integration process is as follows:

April 2016 – Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) officially took over from the four charities. New MCF web site, email addresses for staff, also new publicity material and grant application forms introduced.

August 2016 – Development of updated materials for Lodge Almoners commenced with target date for distribution to Lodge Almoners early in 2017

Nov 2016 – Provincial Almoners to receive training of use of new Provincial Almoner “portal” (portal = new database that allows Provincial Almoners to go on-line to see the exact status of all their Provincial cases). Also, Provincial Almoners to be briefed on new application form and assessment criteria.

Jan 2017 – Provincial Almoner Portal becomes operational for all new applications, although existing cases will be “migrated” to the new system over time.

Jan 2017 – Direct payments of daily living expense grants commences, also direct notification of application outcomes to applicant commences.

As above, the main date of relevance to Lodge and Chapter Almoners is January 2017, as from that time it is intended that Provinces, Lodges and Chapters will no longer distribute grants for assistance with daily living expenses on behalf of the MCF.

This means that a Lodge/Chapter Almoner (and Treasurer) will no longer be responsible for receiving grant payments from the Provincial Almoner and for paying the grants to recipients.

From that point, the MCF will pay the grants directly to individual recipients.

A possible future change relates to grant application forms to the MCF. Under the present system, a Lodge/Chapter Almoner or a Brother nominated by the Provincial Almoner visits the applicant in their own home and to complete the application form with them. Currently a pilot scheme is being trialled in a small number of Provinces where this process is undertaken by a “Visiting Volunteer” or “Application Support Officer” nominated by the Province.

These individuals are trained by the MCF to a much higher level to meet and standardise their requirements, so they will have specialist knowledge beyond what can currently be expected from a Lodge/Chapter Almoner.

Hence the Lodge/Chapter Almoner would be relieved of the burden of having to complete applications and secure all the supporting paperwork.

I shall keep you informed with progress of this pilot project.

SOME HANDY FACTS FOR YOUR LODGE REPORT (IF EVER YOU ARE SHORT OF THINGS TO SAY!!) –

 The RMBI care homes have 1091 beds across 17 homes. Occupancy rate over the last year was 94.2% (comparing favourably with the care sector average of approx. 91%). The RMBI employs 1500 staff (many of whom are part-time)

 26 residents in those homes are from the Province of Middlesex

 In 1850, the first RMBI Home was opened in East Croydon, named the “Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons”.

 The average age of residents is currently just under 90

 In 2015 the Trust for Girls and Boys accepted 222 new beneficiaries and continued to provide ongoing support for around 1250 children and young adults.

 In 2015, the Samaritan Fund provided £1,478,768 in grants to Freemasons and dependents for medical purposes.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation offers not just a very wide range of support services to Freemasons and dependents in times of need, but in doing so, it distributes a very significant sum of money annually to a large number of individuals. You should bear this in mind when considering the needs of your members and dependents. It is always worth checking whether or not the MCF might be able to assist someone with a health, mobility or financial need, or perhaps longer term care.

MOBILITY SCOOTER AVAILABLE ON LOAN –

The Staines Lodge of Mark Master Masons has very kindly made us aware that they own a recently serviced mobility scooter that they are willing to loan to any needy Brother.

It must be emphasised that this is a loan arrangement, and they will retain ownership of the scooter.

A longer term loan is possible, but when there is no further use for it, the scooter must be returned to Staines Lodge of Mark Master Masons.

If any Almoner has a potential user for the scooter, please contact me and I will put you in touch with Staines Mark Lodge.

WHY SOME APPLICATIONS FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FAIL –

Sometimes an application to the MCF for financial assistance is unsuccessful, and there is always a good reason if that happens. The following may help you to understand some of them:

 The MSF is there to help people in genuine hardship, and they have strict rules to determine that. A few Freemasons (irrespective of their financial situation) may believe they are entitled to apply for assistance on the basis of “paying in for years” or undertaking a lot of Masonic good works– so to them it’s a bit like making a claim on an insurance policy. When it comes to assistance with daily living expense claims, it isn’t like that! The MCF has to be satisfied that the applicant is facing genuine financial hardship.

 The applicant must already be receiving maximum entitlements from the Department of Work and Pensions and their local authority prior to the time of making application to the MCF, or must have started the process to apply for them.

 The MCF has limits on the amount of annual income an applicant can have before a claim will be considered. Currently these figures are an annual income of £9000 for a single pensioner (£13000 for a couple) and £10,500 for a single person of working age (£16,800 for a couple) However, essential living costs (utility bills, rent, mortgage interest, council tax etc) are taken into account, so don’t be too daunted by these figures if it is a borderline case.

 Allowance is also made for “disregarded income” – so any disability benefits, child related benefits, grants from other Central Masonic Charity awards (including the Mark Benevolent Fund) and grants from Lodges or Provinces will disregarded in the financial assessment.

 Sometimes applications are made when the applicant has a substantial amount in savings because the applicant doesn’t wants to touch them (instead trying to preserve them for a rainy day or for retirement). The MCF will not accept this, because their criterion is genuine financial hardship. Their limit for capital is £13,000 for an individual or £18,000 for a couple.

 Applications where the applicant owns more than one property will not succeed. This includes holiday homes at home or abroad.

The above is intended as a general guide, and it is always preferable to check before making an application if there is any doubt about whether it will succeed.

Finally, the above guidelines only apply to applications for assistance with daily living expenses.

Applications for assistance with medical or mobility issues (as covered by the former Masonic Samaritan Fund), for assistance with education or child related issues (as covered by the former Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys) or for RMBI care homes have their own separate criteria.

Finally, as always, thank you for all your hard work.

You may be assured that there are a considerable number of Middlesex Freemasons and their dependents who have been very grateful for the diligence and kindness of a Lodge or Chapter Almoner at times of great need.

You can, and do, really make a difference!

HUGH SAVILLE
Provincial Almoner
Hugh Saville