On Thursday 7th July Charity Stewards from four local Freemason’s Lodges were shown around Longfield Hospice in Minchinhampton by Annie Gould, Trusts & Major Donor Relationship Manager.
They soon realised that although this is one of the best supported local charities at Lodge, Provincial (Gloucestershire Masonic Charity Action) and national (Masonic Charitable Foundation) level it wasn’t what might be expected. A hospice is normally equipped with beds for people with life limiting conditions but Longfield doesn’t have a single bed to be seen. What they offer is the Hospice at Home service allowing people to spend their last precious days with their loved ones. During Covid many bedded units and hospitals did not allow visitors, which meant patients weren’t able to see loved ones at a time when they needed them the most. Longfield’s Hospice at Home service was therefore ideally placed to avoid this heart wrenching situation. They were given Government funding negotiated by Hospice UK but Annie made it clear that the GMCA (Gloucestershire Masonic Community Action) emergency grant was crucial in enabling them to continue such a desperately needed service during lockdown when the opportunity to hold fundraising activities was severely curtailed.
Their service is open to anyone with a life limiting illness who is over 18 and registered with a GP practice within Gloucestershire (provided of course that their condition doesn’t necessitate specialised hospital care). Longfield aims to support over 1,200 patients, carers and family members each year.
Simon Bernstein, the Chief Executive, explained that the charity needs to raise over £4.5m per year or over £10,000 per day. The NHS provides funding through the Continuous Healthcare Fast Track Funding Scheme but the shops and voluntary donations provide 90% of their overall income. Their 145 employees are mostly part time. The nineteen shops are an essential part of the fundraising; each have a manager and assistant manager to take care of the volunteers. Sales over the internet are expanding at such a rate that new premises are needed which will also allow donations of furniture.
The Wellbeing Centre which is set amongst beautiful gardens provides a haven for those with life limiting illnesses. Counselling provides not only a safe space to come to terms with emotions but also practical workshops on topics such as difficulty in sleeping, anxiety, fatigue and nutrition. Groups enable them to compare notes and reassure themselves that they are not alone on this road. They can also access massage, Reiki, reflexology and aromatherapy; therapeutic art; Tai Chi; and physiotherapy. In addition to what is available to those with life limiting conditions themselves there is also much needed support their families receive to help them come to terms with what is going on at the different stages of the journey and beyond.
Freemasonry has supported the great work Longfield does on many levels: grants from their national MCF (Masonic Charitable Foundation) fund; Gloucestershire’s GMCA (Gloucestershire Community Action) fund; and from individual local Lodges. Let’s not forget the contribution of Gloucestershire Freemasonry’s CAST (Community Action Support Team) who provide stewards for fund raising events. Individuals can help by donating items to the shops, buying them or of course sparing a few hours every week to work in the shops. There is also a range of ways anyone can help in their Minchinhampton centre depending on experience, skills and time available so call 01453 886868 or go on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what you can do.
“It was a pleasure to show the Charity Stewards from the Wotton and Dursley Freemasons’ Lodges around the hospice and we are so grateful to the Gloucestershire Freemasons for their ongoing support. Longfield is reliant upon the goodwill of groups like these to ensure the continuation of our care and support for patients, carers and family members.”
Our picture shows:
Chris Riley, Charity Steward, Lodge of Grace
Terry Hill, Charity Steward, Lodge of the Perfect Ashlar
Annie Gould, Longfield
Lloyd Morgans, Charity Steward, Gloucestershire Round Table Lodge
Robin Tudor, Charity Steward, St John’s Lodge (Dursley)