There is an old saying that alleges; ‘you only get out what you put in’. Sometimes that might be true, but when the repeated grants made by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) to not only local Masons and their dependents but to the wider community of West Lancashire are ‘balanced up’, that saying is completely disproved.
The Province of West Lancashire is very fortunate in that its dependents receive a great deal more on an annual basis than we as local Masons donate to our central charity. In addition, we can feel even more proud when the MCF, on our behalf makes a real difference to local communities.
‘YoungMinds’, a national charity that is pioneering help and support for young people has been able to expand its ground-breaking work into the north of England after receiving a grant of £49,634 from the MCF. This has enabled them to establish a pilot ‘peer support and advice group project’ for parents whose children are experiencing diverse mental health issues and behavioural problems. The project is initially based around the Sefton, Knowsley and Netherton areas but with the expectation that it will be expanded into Liverpool and surrounding districts as the initiative gains pace.
In its application to the MCF for funding assistance, ‘YoungMinds’ stated that: “The aim of the project is to develop a unique and sustainable peer-to-peer support model for parents that can be replicated/commissioned by local authorities and parenting groups UK-wide.”
Attending the first meeting of the project group and presenting a certificate to record the grant award were representatives from both the West and East Lancashire Masonic Provinces. From our own Province were David Winder APrGM and George Fox Provincial Publicity Officer, who were joined by Chad Northcott APrGM and Julie Ward ELMC director from our sister Province.
At the start of the first meeting which was held at the Netherton Children’s Centre, Jane Case who is the Northern Hub manager for ‘YoungMinds’, welcomed everyone and gave an insight into way that the project will strive to support local young people and their parents. She then introduced Evette Allen who has been appointed to lead the peer group sessions, she gave a brief outline of Evette’s extensive experience of working in the fields of both mental health and behavioural issues as well as her career in school nursing.
Evette outlined the aims and goals of the project and stressed from the outset that the parents would have ownership of the structure of the sessions. She continued by explaining how sharing experience of personal problems in parenting could be useful in building a support structure for the group members. In the opening discussions, it quickly became apparent that there were many shared experiences that group members could identify with and a spontaneous exchange of ideas and views soon developed.
Jane Casey thanked the local MCF representatives for attending and thanked the Masonic community for their continued commitment to helping local communities and especially young people. She concluded by inviting the guests to make a return visit in a few months’ time to see how the project was developing.
David Winder, who is the Vice President of the West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival, expressed his gratitude for being invited to attend the inaugural meeting and said: “From what I have seen and heard today, I am very confident that this project has the potential to make a sustainable and positive impact on both the young people and parents who become involved.” He praised the parents who had come forward to be part of this new initiative for their bravery and foresight in seeking help and support for both themselves and their children, remarking: “What happens here has the potential to benefit possibly 100s if not 1,000s of young people in the future.” In closing, David observed that: “On occasions such as these I realise that as Freemasons we have reason to be both proud and grateful; proud that we have at our centre, a new Masonic charity that is continuing to help local communities on our behalf and grateful that here in West Lancashire we now have the opportunity through the MCF 2021 Festival to show our support in return.”
More information about ‘YoungMinds’ and its work can be found by clicking here.