Proud and independent
One of the more visible signs of Freemasons' involvement in charity work are the schemes developed by the Masonic Housing Association. John Jackson reports
When we give to charity, it is not always possible to see precise results, as with the vast sums given by the Freemasons' Grand Charity to international aid appeals. We know that the money is being well spent and doing good works, but somehow it is a little removed from our own lives. One area where tangible results can be seen is in the happy faces of those living in properties run by the Masonic Housing Association (MHA).
Recently, Embassy World Snooker Champion, Peter Ebdon, visited his grandmother, and proudly took along the trophy. For Ann Ebdon it was a wonderful moment to share with her grandson. Moreover, she shared that joy with her fellow tenants at Palmer Court in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, one of the sheltered homes for the elderly run by the MHA.
The MHA provides sheltered housing for jhe elderly, and has five schemes managed by voluntary house committees of local Freemasons.
Roy Simmons, MHA's Chief Executive, says: 'We are different from any other housing association as, apart from two people at Great Queen Street and resident wardens at the sheltered
homes, we are run purely on voluntary support and all of
this voluntary effort comes from Freemasons who serve on our local house
The Provincial Grand Master of the Province in which the scheme is situated appoints the local house committee chairman. Other
committee members are appointed by the chairman, with the approval of the Provincial Grand Master and the M HA, and are other local Masons or their ladies. Following a recent review of the structure of the MHA, local house committee
chairmen now serve on the MHA main board.
Apart from carrying out the day-to-day management of the schemes, the local
house committees may receive funds raised from local Lodges, which are used to enhance the lifestyle of residents, ranging from many social functions to providing extra amenities and services. Examples include improved furniture for the communal lounges, extra shower rooms, bus services into town for shopping, extra security, garden features and many more.
Recently, the Province of Essex raised in excess of
£50,000 to provide a conservatory and to landscape the garden at the M HA scheme in South Woodham Ferrers. In the past, the Provinces of Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and
Huntingdonshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire have made substantial contributions to MHA, both at the initial building stage and for continuing improvements to the schemes.
Unlike the other Masonic charities, the MHA is not registered with the Charity Commission, as this would prevent the Association receiving grants from the Housing Corporation, with which the MHA is registered. However, M HA is a society registered under The Industrial and Provident Societies Act and, as such, is an exempt charity and can receive charitable donations.
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