London Masons have joined Freemasons from across England and Wales to provide essential PPE equipment to care homes to protect the vulnerable and the staff who care for them. Nearly 5,000 visors have already been produced with help from the Freemasons, who have adapted their businesses production lines to meet demand. A dedicated Covid-19 group will now spearhead a national campaign to ramp up production in order to supply care homes and others who need help.
While the NHS has been prioritised, care homes are struggling to source PPE equipment. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons, has 18 care homes and 1,000 residents, through its Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI). Two being based in Croydon and Chislehurst.
Dr David Staples, CEO of UGLE, said: “Freemasons have a proud history of providing care to the elderly, and as a number of our members fall into the vulnerable category, we are stepping forward to help in their time of need. No elderly person – or the staff who care for them – should believe their life is at risk due to the lack of essential equipment. And no parent or grandchild should feel their loved ones were left unprotected during this national emergency.”
He continued: “Freemasons across the country are already taking steps to safeguard our vulnerable loved ones and the millions of carers who help protect and care for them during this time. Not only can we help provide physical protection but we can also – through our core values of friendship, respect, integrity and charity – help provide monetary support though Age UK, the ability to provide cross-generational friendship; and highlight our respect for this generation by providing for them in their hour of need.”
Mr Hooton switched his highly specialised industrial laser-cutting equipment to producing aluminium frames for his own design of visor in a move prompted by a cry for help from the RMBI, which was looking for visors for staff in its care homes. Within 24 hours, he had created a prototype, and was then supported by other members of his lodge and his staff in gearing up to produce hundreds every day, including sourcing raw materials, establishing logistics channels, setting a production line and defining the product in a document.
Mark Hooton shows the produced visors.
Freemasons from Upminster, also donated 500 packs of antiseptic wipes to the Carers Trust and 500 visors to NHS Moorfields Eye Hospital.
UGLE’s Dr Staples added: “I am extremely proud of how our members have helped to step into the breach during this national crisis. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the support we will be providing. We are now galvanizing the membership on a national level to help ramp up demand, and we aim to be supplying thousands of new items of PPE in the next few weeks.”
Freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £48m to deserving causes in 2018 alone. And Freemasons do not only donate money – more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work was undertaken by Freemasons in 2018.