Important Information for all Lodge Almoners (April 2018)
As you know, there have been many changes to your role as Lodge Almoner over the past eighteen months from changes over to the MCF and the way that grant applications are made to the way guidance is given to you regarding retention and the more pastoral care you undertake for your members, widows and their families.
I am pleased to inform you all that after long discussions and listening to Provincial Grand Almoners and members by the MCF, the Visiting Volunteer Scheme has now gone live in West Kent.
This means that some of the burden of filling in application forms for living expenses grants will be taken on by an assigned Visiting Volunteer (VV).
How it works
Initial contact will be made by you or the applicant direct to the MCF at Great Queen Street by email or telephone. The contact will be logged on to the new computer system called GAMES (Grant Application Management and Evaluation System). A Visiting Volunteer will then be assigned to the case and regular updates will be given to both myself and to you.
All West Kent VVs are from our Province and have had full training and background checks so there should be no worries regarding data protection, best practice and the very best way to look after the interests of you or your applicant. I would also encourage you to attend my VV’s visit should you wish to do so.
I feel that this new way of contact, visit, form filling and follow up will leave you to concentrate on looking after the health, well-being and day to day concerns of your members, widows and their families.
Quick Guide for all members and Almoners
Apply for a Daily Living Expenses Grant
1. Contact the MCF direct
Free Phone 0800 035 60 90 – Switch Board 0203 146 3333
Email firstname.lastname@example.org – Web Site www.mcf.org.uk
2. Advice will be given and/or details logged onto our GAMES.
I will be informed and a VV will be allocated
3. VV will contact you or the applicant to arrange a visit.
Application form will be completed and required personal information paperwork will be collected.
4. Application is sent to the MCF.
Decision is normally made within 6 weeks.
5. Grant is made direct to the applicant over a 12 month period.
Usually 4 equal payments over 12 months.
6. After 12 months
You are informed 8 weeks before renewal of grant.
Your VV will contact you to arrange filling out a renewal application.
Applying For a Medical Grant
Contact the MCF direct The MCF will allocate a VV if required
Applying for residency at an RMBI Care Home
Contact the RMBI Care Home direct. (Prince George, Duke of Kent Court Tel. 0208 467 0081)
The Care Home will deal with all aspects of the application and allocate a member of the Advice and Support Team.
I hope that you agree that this new system of advice and application is straightforward and that it leaves you to concentrate more on being the Almoner for your Lodge. I and my team of Group Almoners are still available to answer any questions you may have and their details can be found in your blue year book as well as on the West Kent web site and from the Provincial office at Oakley House.
Following on, I intend to continue this year with my Almoners’ Workshops which will now concentrate on what the role of Lodge Almoner should be and how best to carry out those duties. I also intend to hold an open evening at Prince George, Duke of Kent Court very soon so please look out for contact from me by email, letter, West Kent Facebook and information on the noticeboard in your Masonic Centre.
Thank you all for your hard work and continued support for all the members of our Province.
Yours Sincerely and Fraternally,
W.Bro Bob Order
PROVINCIAL GRAND ALMONER
Role of the Provincial Grand Almoner & Lodge Almoner
The role of the Provincial Grand Almoner is to provide support, guidance and advice to all Lodge Almoners in our Province, as well as managing various petitions for assistance. To achieve this, the Provincial Grand Almoner is assisted by four Group Almoners who are each responsible for a defined set of Lodges. The aim of the Provincial Grand Almoner and his team is to use their best endeavours to assist members of the Province and/or their dependants who are experiencing financial distress and to assist with the acquisition of medical treatment.
On a day to day basis the Provincial Grand Almoner is mainly involved with managing requests for help and communicating with the Masonic Charities. He has to appoint a visiting Brother, send out the paperwork and make sure it is returned in good time, check that the documentation is in order and then forward it to the Grand Charity for consideration.
Once a grant is approved, he will make arrangements to disburse the funds as required. Grants are also managed for other Provinces where the person requesting help lives within West Kent.
THE ROLE OF THE LODGE ALMONER
The core role of the Lodge Almoner is to be the “eyes and ears” of the Lodge, ensuring the welfare of its members and of their widows and dependents. Specific responsibilities include:
- Keeping in touch;
- Maintaining regular contact with sick or distressed Lodge members;
- Maintaining regular contact with Lodge widows;
- Making contact with families of recently deceased brethren.
- Being alert to the needs and problems of Lodge members and their dependents;
- Keeping informed;
- Being aware of the aims and activities of the four main Masonic Charities (The Freemasons’ Grand Charity; The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution; The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys; The Masonic Samaritan Fund) and how to access the support they offer.
- Having a basic knowledge of the range of support available from the state and from non-Masonic charities (eg armed services charities) and how potential applicants can obtain specific advice;
- Attending training and other events to keep up to date with developments affecting his responsibilities or the Masonic Charities.
- Making new members welcome, in conjunction with the Proposer, Seconder and Lodge Mentor;
- Ensuring that members, partners and dependents are aware of what support may be available, particularly Masonic support;
- Conducting visits and discussions with members who may need support;
- Assisting the Provincial Grand Almoner when required, e.g. with a request for visiting a Brother, widow or dependent from another area.
Record-keeping and reporting
- Maintaining accurate records of all receipts and payments made;
- Maintaining records of all visits to brethren, widows or other dependants;
- Maintaining a record of the names and contact details of brethren, widows and dependants, including as far as possible the details of widows and dependants of resigned or excluded brethren.
- Reporting on the above to the members at each Lodge meeting, while preserving due confidentiality.
In addition to the above, a good Almoner will make himself aware of happier events such as birthdays, births and special wedding anniversaries so that the Lodge can send appropriate greetings.
To perform this role the Almoner will need to possess considerable tact, courtesy, discretion, patience and humour, together with a sympathetic disposition, a commitment to helping people, and time and energy to devote to the benefit of Lodge members and their dependents. Poverty is not an easy thing to admit to. Health worries are often kept hidden. It is often painful to admit to others what may seem to be a failure and an inability to cope. Confidentiality and a caring approach can be the key to relieving those worries.
The office is one that benefits from continuity and it is suggested that a term of five years is generally appropriate.