Faced with the greatest global pandemic in living memory, Freemasons came together in 2020 and donated a total of £1m as well as their time to help those in need.
The donations were used to help communities in various critical areas, including foodbanks, support for unpaid carers, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women’s refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances and equipment.
Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas, where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.
In Norwich Freemason Colin Breckons won national recognition for making thousands of free face shields for NHS and Home Care staff using his home 3D printers. The dad-of-six received support on line and in the community, receiving his first donation from his own lodge towards buying materials.
Elsewhere in the county volunteers in Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn and Sheringham have been assisting councils and local charities pack and distribute food to elderly, disabled and low income families.
Nationally efforts have been focused on hospitals and care homes where 1,000 donated tablets provided vital contact between coronavirus patients and their loved ones. Meanwhile, donations of £165,000 gave more than 2,000 women fleeing domestic abuse during the lockdown parcels containing essential items.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England is currently encouraging members to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to vaccinate the population. “More than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work were undertaken by Freemasons. Now it is crucial that we help in every way we can to protect the population. If the NHS needs volunteers, then we are happy to emphasise the importance of this to our members,” said Dr Staples.
Head of Norfolk Freemasons, Stephen Allen praised the efforts of his 3,000 members in helping reduce Covid-19 levels to among the lowest in the country. “Our response to the Pandemic shows what Freemasonry is all about; supporting those in need, giving back to our communities and volunteering where it can make a real difference,” said Mr Allen.