Dependents of Freemasons who are studying, training or job-hunting in London are eligible for admission to one of two accommodation units available in central London. Priority for admission is given to existing beneficiaries.
In addition to the general funds of the Trust, there are no fewer than 18 subsidiary funds managed by the Trust and available to give relief to children and young adults. Some of these funds enable immediate relief to be applied in an emergency, whilst others have specific objects such as advancing education through travel.
The Trust already gives scholarships to many hundreds of young people at universities and colleges, where reduced income has resulted in poverty.
However, with the abolition of local authority student maintenance grants in England and Wales, it has become harder for many families, not just those who could be said to be in poverty, to support a child at university.
The MTGB has now introduced UndergradAid, which awards bursaries to other Masonic children who are full-time students, so that they can make the most of their time at university or college.
Recently, the Trust introduced TalentAid, a new scheme to support the gifted children of the family of Freemasons. Grants are available on a competitive basis to support children and young people who are particularly talented in sport, music, dance, drama or art.
About ten major grants are available each year to pay school or college fees, and a further 50 minor grants are made for tuition, coaching, travel and equipment.
The tradition of choral services in cathedrals, collegiate churches and chapels in England and Wales is part of our national heritage, and ought to be encouraged.
If a particular choir school can provide an education for a young person who, without our aid, could not take part, we should fund such a child, whether or not the child of a Freemason.
One sad fact to emerge from an MTGB study was that at many cathedral schools, only those children whose parents can afford to pay the fees could attend the school.
Before the Second World War, many cathedrals could provide free schooling for boys with the best voices. Now, the musical endowment can provide at best one half of the fees required.
The first choral bursary was taken up in January 1997. The bursary is paid on a means-tested basis, as are all the MTGB fees, and was awarded at the competitive voice trials.
All such bursaries would be payable for the duration of the child's stay at the school.
The initiative has proved so popular that boys have been admitted to the cathedral choirs of Bristol, Chelmsford, Chichester, Durham, Ely, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Manchester, Norwich, Peterborough, Ripon, Rochester, Salisbury, Southwell Minster, Wells and Worcester, St George's Chapel, Windsor as well as King's College, Cambridge and Great Grimsby Parish Church.
In June 2002, choral bursary holders were brought together for a special concert in Freemasons' Hall, London. CD recordings of this concert are now available.
The MTGB also has a scheme, 'lifelites', to bring the benefits of information technology to children's hospices throughout England and Wales. There are currently 24 children's hospices enjoying the benefits.
Assistance is also given to the education of children outside the family of English Freemasonry. This includes responding to national appeals from charities caring for children, and to appeals from schools and other places of education attended by children and young persons under the Trust's protection.
Examples of recent grants are made under this heading are £12,000 to British Blind Sport and £5,080 to the National Children's Orchestra.
Caring for Masonic children for over 200 years, the MTGB is a jewel in the crown of Freemasonry.
Further information: www.mtgb.org. Lieutenant-Colonel John Chambers is Secretary of the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Web site created by Mark Griffin