East and West Lancashire Freemasons are supporting the homeless of South Manchester by providing a grant of £12,000 to assist Emmaus in setting up a new centre in Wythenshawe.
Freemasons from around the country donated £1,000,000 between April and July 2020 to help those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and are now focusing on protecting the homeless, with a new series of donations across England and Wales. The homeless crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people losing their jobs and finding themselves either living on the streets or in unsuitable living conditions.
In 2019, Shelter estimated that 280,000 people were homeless in England alone, while the Greater London Authority reported 4,227 people sleeping rough in London between April and June, of which 2,680 were sleeping on the streets for the first time. The funds raised will help provide safe living conditions, healthcare, meals, and employment opportunities for the homeless; as well as helping protect them from the winter weather, which kills 100s of homeless people every year. In addition, Freemasons will be volunteering their time at 26 homeless support organisations.
The grant from East and West Lancashire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, from across England and Wales.
An Emmaus Community is a unique charity that enables people to move on from homelessness, providing work and a home in a supportive, family environment. Companions, as residents are known, work full time in the communities recycling business, collecting, renovating and reselling donated furniture and other items. This work supports the community financially and enables companions to develop skills and rebuild their self-respect.
Companions can live in the community for as long as it takes for them to rebuild their lives and return to everyday living. Emmaus communities are dry and drug free. Companions agree to sign off mainstream benefits whilst living in the community. A critical part of the Emmaus ethos is that all members of its community should participate in the communities recycling business, thus making the community financially self-sustaining and not dependant on handouts from others.
It works on the principle that providing a roof only for someone that is homeless can often be no more than a sticking plaster. Emmaus communities deal with the whole person; addressing addictions, family issues, problems with money, confidence, low esteem and skills.
Tony Stephenson from Emmaus said: “We’re very grateful to East and West Lancashire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to start this much needed new project in South Manchester. Our outreach work in Wythenshawe will eventually lead to the opening of an Emmaus Community that will provide a home and work for homeless people whilst continuing to support those who find themselves in poverty or disenfranchised from everyday society.”
Tony Harrison, leader of West Lancashire Freemasons said: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Emmaus with their essential work supporting people who are homeless by helping them to work their way out of homelessness, providing meaningful work, training and support as well as a stable home for as long as is needed. Both East and West Lancashire Freemasons will continue to support our communities and those organisations that help them.”