THE MCF SUPPORT CHANGING FACES CHARITY
By W Bro Mark Russell SLGR
The Masonic Charity Foundation has recently contributed a grant of £56,981 to the charity Changing Faces to assist their work.
Mark Russell contacted Catherine Deacon, the Charity’s Director of Fundraising and Communications and Deputy CEO, to find out more about the charity and how their efforts assist the people in London.
Catherine explained that nearly one in five people in London self-identify as having a visible difference or disfigurement. She continued by saying that ‘people who look different can face issues of staring, harassment, bullying and hate crime. They are often vulnerable to isolation, loneliness, social anxiety and low self-esteem. They can experience lowered expectations in school, problems getting work and stereotyping in the media. They are also severely underrepresented in public life and decision-making. Changing Faces is there to assist anyone with a scar, mark or condition on their face and body.’
When asked how the charity works, Catherine answered that they provide the UK’s only free counselling services for children, young people and adults needing mental health and wellbeing support. Practical support can be given through a multitude of ways such as face-to-face meetings, a digital counselling service, a Support and Information Line, a Peer Group Chat Service, an online forum, an online self-guided support tool and even self-help advice and guidance.
Last year, 91% of those who had used any of the charity’s services reported an improvement against their self-defined target outcomes.
Changing Faces provides a specialist skin camouflage service that gives people with visible differences a choice over their appearance. The aim is to give them control over how they look day-to-day. A consultation with a trained practitioner identifies a colour match from a range of specialised products and teaches users how to apply these products themselves while at home.
This service really makes a difference, with 94% of clients saying that it helps them manage their appearance-related concerns and that, as a result, they feel more confident in everyday life.
As well as giving practical help, Changing Faces campaigns to transform the understanding and acceptance of visible differences across society and to reduce prejudice and discrimination.
Across London, in the last 12 months, 517 sufferers have used the Wellbeing facilities, and 472 clients have used the Skin Camouflage Service.
‘It’s reassuring to know that the charity Changing Faces is there to support people living with a visible difference. It means that I am not alone in facing this’ said East Londoner Tulsi, who, after suffering from burns a while back, decided to become a Changing Faces Ambassador.
Changing Faces CEO Heather Blake explained the importance of donations in helping the charity continue its excellent programme of work and highlighted the positive effect felt by those the charity supports: ‘We live in an image-obsessed society. For Londoners who have disfigurements, scars, marks and conditions that make them look different, the reality is that they often face a daily battle for acceptance. They are contending with stares, comments and bullying in school and public places.
‘We are very grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for their fantastic grant towards our counselling and wellbeing support service for children and young people with a visible difference across the UK. This service is entirely funded by voluntary donations and can only continue thanks to the generosity of supporters like the Foundation. Now more children and their families across London and the UK will be able to access one-to-one counselling, wellbeing support and group workshops.’
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 48 April 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 48 here.