The second almoners meeting took place in Southport with 23 almoners attending the presentation given by the Provincial Grand Almoner, Ernie Greenhalgh. Also in attendance were Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Robert Wright and Southport Group Chairman, Colin Jenkins.
The meeting was opened by Robert Wright at 7.00pm when he welcomed all the almoners and then introduced Ernie, who spoke about the important role the lodge and chapter almoners have in the new care structure.
He emphasised “How everything starts with pastoral care looking for four to six visits a year to widows and elderly Masons who don’t attend lodge.”
Ernie said almoners should ask for assistance from their lodge members if the numbers are too large.
He then spoke about the ‘Passport for the future’ saying this will be rolled out by Royal Mail next week along with the WLFC newsletter, to be followed with copies to all widows to be hand delivered by almoners before Christmas.
He then introduced Derek Midgley who is the pastoral care officer for Southport and Ormskirk. Ernie explained Derek’s role as being the link between the almoners and the Provincial care team and the group chairmen.
Eric Binks was then introduced as the admin care officer who is working on a post coded area Eric is one of only 23 people who can complete application forms for the five charities.
Ernie then introduced Tom Bradfield-Kay who is the admin and PR care officer who has a dual role assisting the admin officer with applications. Ernie said this will ensure there is full 52 week coverage. Tom will also deliver presentations to lodges and chapters, ladies groups and Fellowships etc.
Ernie then explained the changes in the method of payment of grants, which will now be paid on a quarterly basis.
Ernie then played the video presentation ‘Freemason’s in the Community’.
After watching the video Ernie answered questions which covered a wide range with the three most prominent being:
1. Concern over payment to vulnerable people. Ernie explained when the almoner informs us of a situation we have 12 disbursement accounts and that person will be paid in the old format by the admin officer.
2. When a client gets a grant declined the letter should go via the pastoral care officer to the lodge almoner to so that he can inform the client personally –Ernie agreed to this change in process.
3. Would a grant affect local and national government entitlement like housing benefit by making payment direct into the clients bank account. Ernie said it has been agreed between the charities and the Department of Works and Pensions and the Inland Revenue that the reference on the clients bank statement should show clearly the money comes from ‘The Grand Charity or WLFC’ and then it would not affect entitlements.
Many other questions were raised and all were answered satisfactorily.
Ernie said after the meeting: “The new care structure went live on 5 October, so its early days, but the implementation has gone well so far, 45 clients have been visited by 11 of the admin care team across the Province, 12 have already been sent to the charities for review”.
Sessions for all lodge and chapter almoners are taking place in all groups from now through to the end of November – if you are an almoner don’t miss the meeting in your group.
Confirmed presentation dates are:
19 October in the Leigh Group at Leigh Masonic Hall
27 October in the Blackpool North and South Fylde Groups at Cleveleys Masonic Hall
28 October in the Wigan Group at Bryn Masonic Hall
29 October in Lancaster Group at Rowley Court
30 October in the Ormskirk Group in Ormskirk Masonic Hall
2 November in the Eccles and South Eastern in Urmston Masonic Hall
9 November in the Warrington Group in Warrington Masonic Hall
10 November Preston Group at Preston Masonic Hall
30 November in the Furness and South Lakeland Barrow