It’s a long way down, but you do come back up

Since we closed Freemasons’ Hall earlier in March, life has changed out of all recognition.  We are faced with new challenges on a daily basis: from shopping for essentials, to checking that our friends and family are safe, understanding how our Lodges and Chapters are to operate and ensuring that we all stay safe and well.  This letter will not assist with all of these challenges but may point to a path for those who are finding things difficult.

The Province has not closed down just because the building is not open.  I have been amazed how quickly members have adopted technology to meet their needs.  Virtual meetings are becoming common-place, with Zoom, Skype, GoTo Meetings, WhatsApp and a host of other platforms being utilised to connect masons and share thoughts and ideas.  In my last letter, I stated how crucial it was to ensure that all of our members are being cared for and requested that Secretaries and Almoners compiled a list of those living alone or would need assistance during this crisis.  To date, I have seen a great deal of good practice in this regard, but my concern is that this initial enthusiastic response may wane over the coming weeks.  I am also concerned that there may be some members who have not informed Lodge secretaries of changes to their contact details and are therefore not receiving help.

To address these two areas, I am asking all members to complete the on-line form contained within this letter.  The data you submit will only be used for updating the records held on the Provincial database.  Once we have received these updates, I shall be asking Secretaries and Almoners to check that all of their members and widows are getting the support they need and where necessary to contact the Province for help.  It is important that the ways we communicate vary and bring some new element into play.  An e-mail asking if we are feeling OK is fine, but maybe a telephone call would make the experience more engaging.  Our thoughts naturally turn to the physical health aspects, but we should also be very aware of the impact of the crisis on member’s financial circumstances.  Again, if you need advice on this please contact the Province.

Last week, members were asked by UGLE to volunteer to support the NHS.  I must stress that this should only be those who are fit and able and are not in one of the high-risk categories.  Furthermore, I would stress that volunteering should only be carried out with Nationally Registered agencies, such as the Red Cross or the RVS, who will ensure that appropriate safeguarding measures are in place.

My final message is that I am proposing to make a Provincial Help-line available, not just for emergencies but just for advice and guidance.  Further details will follow.

Brethren, we will get through to the other side with each other’s support and friendship but in the meantime, stay positive and safe.

Jonathan MW Davis

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