A reflection on an amazing team effort.
Who would have thought that during the early part of March 2020 as we may have headed home from our Lodge and Chapter meetings that a silent scourge would soon be responsible for a change in our personal and masonic lives.
COVID 19 entered our vocabulary and would be responsible for the death of thousands of men and women including Brother Freemasons.
This event has been described as being the biggest disaster the world, and especially this country, had seen since the World War 2.
As with the bombing of cities in the UK and the mass evacuation of troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, a civic spirit manifested itself in the response to these events, not least among freemasons who picked up the cudgel to engage the Covid enemy by ameliorating some of its worst social effects.
Now that the population heads back to a normality we can, as Middlesex Masons, reflect on our efforts as a team to enact those sentiments expressed in our ritual by expanding our hearts by benevolence and fulfilling the expectation of those who knowing us a Freemasons would look for succour and support during those terrible times.
FEEDING THE HUNGRY
Shortly after it became apparent that this was going to be a major crisis, the Province of Middlesex became involved in many charitable initiatives.
At the same time the Provincial COVID 19 Benevolent Fund was set up.
Indeed, as with any civil crisis it was important that those who needed food most were provided for through the foodbank resources.
These were managed by the various charities, but were supported by monetary donations from the Middlesex Province Relief Fund (MPRF) and the Middlesex Masonic Charity (MMC).
Not only that but two of the Provincial Centres, Uxbridge and Harrow, opened their kitchens and were to provide in the region of 120,000 nourishing meals between them.
This endeavour required the assistance of volunteers which also included family members.
The prepared food was subsequently distributed to those most in need in the Province.
SUPPORT FOR THE NHS
NHS Charitable Trusts of hospitals within Middlesex received grants of £1,000 each from the Masonic Charities as well from individual masonic units to assist in various projects.
The NHS was also struggling with some aspects of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supply and had been overwhelmed by the sheer scale of numbers being admitted to COVID wards in hospitals.
There were also personal initiatives by members of the Province.
One in particular, who affectionately became known by the moniker “The Middlesex Ragman” was involved with the distribution of hospital scrubs machined by volunteer ladies to various hospitals outside the Provincial area.
But this was soon extended into Middlesex with hundreds of metres of fabric being donated by some members of the Province.
Additionally, there were gifts to hospital children’s wards of pyjamas.
All these were very well received.
OTHER GOOD WORKS
Homeless Charities were also part of the programme of monetary assistance and eleven received grants of £1,000.
Food parcels were delivered to those in need and also to selected residents nominated by AGE UK based in Harrow who would normally have been invited to a Christmas lunch at the Harrow Centre.
Prince Michael of Kent Court Home was also at the receiving end of gifts by way of PPE, chocolates, biscuits and Easter eggs for both staff and residents.
This was also extended to another twenty Care Homes around the Province which no doubt provided a welcome morale boost and cheered up the residents.
Many external charities found it difficult in terms of fund raising during the pandemic period, especially mental health charities.
People had lost their jobs and some just found it difficult to make ends meet.
This kind of pressure would have a consequence and with the limitations on mobility in the early days.
Mental health care and advice was an important aspect of the work required to keep people on top of their personal dilemmas.
These charities, five in all, received awards of £1,000 each.
Other donations were made to five charities supporting unpaid Carers where £1,000 was paid to each.
Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of the pandemic period was the incidence of violence at home and domestic abuse.
This was a regrettable feature of the lockdown period where families who were normally separated during the course of the working day, were almost in solitary confinement and this had repercussions.
Fortunately, there were charities able to support victims, both men and women, and once again five received sums of £1,000 to support their critical work.
The Brethren and Companions of Middlesex as well as the Provincial Charities must be saluted for the amazing team effort in providing support to fifty-two individual charities in nine charity sectors.
Surely the Province of Middlesex must rank high in the table of those Masonic Provinces who also pulled together to provide a “healing balm of consolation” to those most affected.
Well done Middlesex.
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