The Scrip Purse
By W Bro Darren Palmer PAGSwdB, MetGAlm
A Column from the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s Team
A very warm welcome from myself and my team to our regular feature on Arena. In the last edition, we gave an overview of the initiatives we are currently running. In this edition, we want to highlight two initiatives by the Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s team, one you may be familiar with, and the other is being rolled out across Metropolitan in the coming months. We will finish off the article by answering some questions that Brethren have emailed in after our last feature in Arena. A reminder that we as a team are always here to help, and you can always contact the Metropolitan Grand Almoner on the 24/7 hotline on 0779295071
Mental Wellbeing Ambassadors in Metropolitan
Within any Lodge or unit, the almoner’s role is pivotal to ensuring that all our members are supported and cared for. But who looks out for the Brother who looks out for everybody else?
It’s a fact that one in four members of the population will experience a mental health problem each year. Accessing support when you are the ‘go-to’ for everybody else’s difficulties can present its challenges.
Last year, the mental wellbeing ambassadors programme was developed and tailor-made to support the role of almoner, better enable connectivity and ensure every almoner has a baseline level of structure and support.
Leading the programme is W Bro Lee Cannon, Assistant to the Metropolitan Grand Almoner. His experience in this field includes the establishment of an award-winning peer support network within one of the largest UK emergency services, and it was on this model that the wellbeing ambassadors concept was established.
From almoners surveyed, confidence in supporting a brother regarding mental health questions averaged at 60%. We then ran a pilot scheme and rigorous testing regime within the almoner structure. From these specific groups, we recognised there was increased exposure to instances where Brethren may be suffering from the impacts of mental health. Ensuring our support network was fit for purpose, the operational Metropolitan Grand Almoner’s Assistants were trained as mental health first aiders. The visiting volunteers and almoner support officers were upskilled in wellbeing awareness. Finally, a wider online provision of training has been introduced, accessible to all almoners or other members who care.
The unique design of the ambassador network is the first of its kind and scale within UGLE. It strengthens the existing interconnectivity by refreshing and enhancing levels of mental resilience within these groups.
The online training course provides a range of knowledge and tools, from understanding personal limitations and boundaries to where to signpost Brethren for appropriate professional support if necessary. From those who completed the course, confidence to support a Brother in distress or difficulty has increased to a level of 86%. Those who participated reported that the online training was excellent value for time, and 100% of them stated they would recommend their fellow almoner to complete it too.
The programme is being rolled out across Metropolitan during the summer via a series of face-to-face events and webinars for those within the Almoner role. Whilst Ambassadors will primarily be almoners, the programme will extend to those who are considering the role of almoner or Freemasons who assist almoners within their units
For further information on the ambassadors, please go to bit.ly/wellbeingambassadors
Preloved Regalia is one of the best-kept secrets in Freemasonry, but it shouldn’t be! Its objective is to find a new home for all regalia, books and furnishings of all Masonic orders when no longer needed by their owners and kindly donated to this worthy cause. All proceeds are donated to the London Freemasons’ Charity and the Metropolitan Almoner’s Fund.
Operated by W Bro Bill Dowley SLGR, W Bro Martin Vidler SLGR, and W Bro Attilio Grandani SLGR, the site has recently been updated and revamped to make it easier than ever to use.
We list items that have been donated by Brethren or families of Brethren who have passed on. These are usually deposited with the Metropolitan Grand Lodge office where we will collect them, though we are also willing to travel to collect (within reason!).
Items received are sorted into Orders, individually photographed, added to the website, and provided with their very own unique reference number, a brief description and selling price. What you see is what you will receive. There are no hidden charges and no additional costs for shipping.
When we receive items with a Lodge name, number, or bearing a Brother’s name, we will do our best to repatriate them to their unit. This has been remarkably successful. We are asking the Lodge only to cover postage.
Secretaries, scribes, recorders, almoners, and mentors in any Order, can be invaluable in discussing the delicate subject of rehoming regalia with members or with the unit’s widows. It can often be seen as a way of continuing their legacy by assisting a younger or newer Brother on their journey.
Find us on www.preloved-regalia.co.uk
Questions and Answers with the Metropolitan Grand Almoners team!
If I need help and I live abroad but remain a paid-up member of a London Lodge, can I apply to the Metropolitan Charitable Foundation for help?
From Bro MB
Answer – Yes, if you remain a fully paid member of a London Lodge, you are eligible to apply to the Metropolitan Charity Foundation for support, which, as you know, will be considered based on the type of support and your financial circumstances.
I have a claim that has been approved by the Metropolitan Charity Foundation for support for my wife and I, however, we are urgently in need of financial support. What can I do?
From W Bro FC
Answer – We would suggest that you speak with the almoner of your Lodge, who can speak with the Master of your Lodge and submit a claim under the Metropolitan Almoners Fund (MAF). This is a fund matching scheme that will consider fund-match donations made by your Lodge. For example, if your Lodge agrees under a special resolution meeting to contribute to you £1500, then the MCF scheme can fund that to a maximum of £1500. These funds from MAF can be sent to you via your Lodge within two to three days.
I have been very well supported by my Mother Lodge and received support from the Metropolitan Charity Foundation (MCF) due to the complex needs of my wife. However, even with the support I have received, I am now in need of some specialist equipment to permit us to live independently, and I do not know which way to turn. I am also a member of Mark Masonry. Can I put a further claim to both MCF and Mark Benevolent Fund?
From Bro AB
Answer – Yes, you can make an application to both the MCF and the Mark Benevolent Fund since each of the applications will be considered on their individual circumstances and your support needs, along with your personal and financial position etc. Both organisations should and would be aware of the contributions they are making to ensure transparency of decision making and to speed up the process of support. The Assistant to the Metropolitan Grand Almoner managing the MCF aspect and the Provincial Grand Almoner in the Mark managing the MBF aspect would liaise to ensure that the claim was paid speedily and only once.
Have questions for the Metropolitan Grand Almoners Team? Email them to MetGAlmoner@metgl.com, and we’ll try to answer them next issue!