Charity: the Grand Design
The outstanding work of the Grand Charity is described by Laura Chapman
The Grand Charity sits alongside the other three central Craft charities to provide support to those Brethren and their dependants who are in need of assistance. It also provides the channel to enable the Craft, as a whole, to make donations to non-Masonic charities.
It was established in 1980, following a major review of Masonic charities, known as the Bagnall Report. Today, the Grand Charity has three main roles, to provide:
- Financial assistance for Masons and their dependants who are in need
- Support for other Masonic charities, and
- Donations to non-Masonic charities serving the wider communities of England and Wales.
The first of the Grand Charity's priorities is to provide financial assistance to Freemasons and their dependants who need help. The charity inherited From United Grand lodge of England the responsibility for meeting the needs of 'petitioners' previously relieved from the Grand Lodge Board of Benevolence.
In 2002, the Grand Charity made 1,194 Masonic Relief Grants, totalling £1.6m. Grants are given to help meet daily living expenses, such as for utility bills and home repairs, for disability equipment and for unexpected needs or emergencies, including redundancy and funeral expenses.
In most cases, the Grand Charity relies on the Almoner of a Lodge to identify those who need help and to submit an application form and these are, typically, reviewed at a monthly meeting of Trustees.
For most cases, the application will be dealt with within six weeks, but for real emergencies, a cheque can be on its way to the Province within 24 hours.
Help for Masonic Charities
The Grand Charity has the unique responsibility, among the main Craft charities, of providing financial support to other Masonic charities, when justifiable needs are identified.
For example, over recent years, the Grand Charity helped to establish the New Masonic Samaritan Fund with £1.2m following the closure of the Royal Masonic Hospital. Another grant of £230,000 was made to the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) for a home for Masonic dependants with learning difficulties.
Recently, the Grand Charity assumed complete responsibility for all financial assistance grants to Masons and their dependants.
This included annuities formerly paid by the RMBI, the responsibility for which has passed over to the Grand Charity, along with the funding to cover the commitment for the annuities in existence at April 2002.
The Grand Charity also now has responsibility for all future applicants, including those who would have been previously covered by the RMBI.
In addition, the Grand Charity has provided approximately £4m, as grants and loans, for Provincial housing projects.
Grand Charity Grants
The Grand Charity made total grants in the year to 30 November 2002 of £4,041,325. This comprised Grants to Masons and their dependants in need £1,577,800; Grants to Masonic charities £48,700 and Grants to all other charities £2,414,825.
The latter grants were:
Youth Opportunities 17 grants (£256,503)
Health Care 23 grants (£234,668)
Medical Research 13 grants (£447,598)
Vulnerable People 66 grants (£695,100)
Disability 20 grants (£195,931)
Hospices 205 grants (£491,025)
Disaster Relief 2 grants (£25,000)
Religious Buildings 5 grants (£69,000)
Among these grants to other charities were:
Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution £150,000
Northwick Park Medical Institute £120,000
Breast Cancer Campaign £117,166
Help the Aged £80,000
Contact a Family £80,000
National Autistic Society £60,000
Stroke Association £58,164
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