It is with great pleasure that I am contacting you as your new Provincial Grand Almoner.
I have some very large boots to fill and I would like to thank W.Bro. Rob Order for leaving the shop in such a fine shape, and for his truly invaluable help and ongoing support while I settle into the role. The Province has been in very safe and capable hands during his tenure, and it is my hope to continue the sterling work he has been doing
My heart goes out to all those who have lost someone close to them through this awful virus, to those who may be finding it difficult to live in isolation or are suffering financially because of a reduction in their household income. I want to offer everybody some words of hope and encouragement, and explain what I and my Almoners team, in conjunction with the rest of the West Kent Executive are doing to help support you all during this time of turmoil.
Taking over in a time of crisis has meant that I have needed to hit the ground running, and life in my new position has certainly been hectic, in particular working on the committee of the West Kent Emergency Fund (WKEF) has kept me and my fellow board members particularly busy. The WKEF has been set up to assist those in our Province who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in financial distress due to the Covid 19 outbreak. This applies to individuals and community organisations alike, and we have already made many donations to some very worthy causes as well as grants to Brethren in the Province who, without this support, would find it difficult to make ends meet. More details are available on the members welfare page of the Provincial website, https://westkentmasons.org.uk/members-welfare/
Isolation can be difficult for some people to endure, particularly if you are vulnerable, so unable to leave the home to even get the basic essentials, instead relying on the help of others and delivery services. Attached Is the first edition of a brochure which contains help and advice on how to survive, along with a contacts page for getting additional help from the MCF.
Help is available for all Brethren, and in particular to Lodge Almoners, from the Group Almoners who are:
- Group One (Dartford, Wilmington & Greenhithe) – Julian Rowley firstname.lastname@example.org 07771 598 967
- Group Two (Welling & Wrotham) – Kevin Killick email@example.com 07903 682 348
- Group Three (Sidcup, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells & Edenbridge) – Mike Bowyer Jones firstname.lastname@example.org 07881 825 600
- Group Four (Bromley) – Graham Tarran email@example.com 07790 492 665
We are extremely fortunate to have a highly trained and experienced team of volunteers who are experts in the qualifying criteria for applications that can be made to the MCF for financial assistance. This team would ordinarily be dispatched by the MCF to visit a claimant’s home (be it a Brother, a family member, or a widow of a Mason) to assist them in completing an application form for support. Unsurprisingly, during lockdown they are no longer allowed to perform physical visits, but they are available on the end of a telephone, should you feel that you would like to discuss an application for help. They are now co-ordinated by Steve Archbold, who can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 07453 306413, and Steve will get the appropriate person to contact you. Please visit the MCF website for information on who could put forward a claim for help https://mcf.org.uk/eligibility/
We have a team co-ordinator, Andy Butler email@example.com, so if you are in any doubt you should contact Andy who will be able to direct you to the appropriate person to deal with your enquiry.
And finally …. should you need to contact me I am available by email ProvGAlm@westkentmasons.org.uk or by phone on 07739 249398
Brethren, please also remember our widows during these troubled times, many of them will be worried and lonely, and a friendly call form a Lodge member just for a ten minute chat can make all the difference to someone’s happiness, comfort and wellbeing.
More news will follow in the coming weeks and months, and the overriding message I want to convey is that nobody should suffer in silence – help is just a phone call away.
Yours Sincerely & Fraternally,
Neil A. Moakes
W.Bro. Neil Moakes
Provincial Grand Almoner
Province of West Kent