on a paper read by the R.W.
Provincial Grand Master
in Provincial Grand Lodge on Monday, 28th June, 1976
It is important that the Almoner should be an experienced Brother and that the office should not be used as a progressive one.
In this Province it is the practice for elected Lodge representatives on the Committee of the Provincial Benevolent Fund, i.e. Home Charity Representatives, to investigate and report on requests for assistance made to their respective Lodges and prepare Applications for presentation to the Masonic Charities; these are the Brethren who, provided they are capable of doing an arduous task properly, should be appointed as Almoners. Successive Provincial Grand Masters have recommended that the Offices of Almoner and Home Charities Representative are held by one Brother.
Similarly, because of the very different duties attached to the offices of Charity Steward and Almoner, it is recommended that, for the sake of maximum efficiency in each, the Offices be filled by different Brethren. In some Lodges, one Brother is both Charity Steward and Home Charity Representative; such Lodges are requested to give serious consideration to appointing an additional member to hold one or other of those offices.
To enable an Almoner to do his work properly, and to ensure that succeeding Almoners do not lose touch, a Lodge ought to keep a Register of Members and Widows, also former Members who are still living. Former Members and Widows should be contacted at least once a year to let them know that they have not been forgotten also for the purpose of giving them an address to which they may write if they are in trouble. Unfortunately, in some Lodges, although the Master of the year visits a newly bereaved Widow, after he vacates the Chair no one else takes any further interest in her, hence the importance of proper records and co-operation between the Master and Almoner.
It is important to remember that, as well as Subscribing Members and the Widows and Children of deceased Subscribing Members, Brethren who have ceased to subscribe, whether by resignation or exclusion, are also entitled to assistance from our Charities. It is often in the ranks of the latter category that the cases of greatest poverty are found.
Lodge Treasurers and Secretaries should keep the Almoner informed of Members who have gone into arrears, who have tendered their resignations, who have ceased to attend meetings or who attend but do not dine. Discreet enquiries may reveal cases of hardship being suffered by Brethren in these categories who are too proud to ask for assistance.
In many cases, where an application has been received for aid from Masonic Charities, it has been discovered that the Applicants have not been receiving their full entitlement from the State. An Almoner should make himself fully acquainted with all aspects of the Social Services to enable him to advise elderly Brethren and Widows of the State benefits to which they are entitled. It is recommended that every Almoner! Home Charities Representative should contact the Benefits Agency to obtain a very useful publication called "Touchbase", which is the Department of Social Security's newsletter on benefits, etc .. Application can be made by Tel: 0845-6024444, or in writing to: publicity register, Freepost, NWW 1853, Manchester M2 9LU. The Provincial Office also holds a copy of the Benefits Agency's catalogue, which list all new leaflets, etc., produced by the Agency.
The first thing an Almoner! Home Charities Rep. must do, when he receives a request for, or becomes aware of a need for assistance, is to contact the Provincial Grand Secretary or the Provincial Grand Almoner at the Provincial Office, who will arrange for the immediate issue of the appropriate documents.
Where urgent help is needed, an Emergency Grant may be made from the Provincial Benevolent Fund or Samaritan Fund with the minimum possible delay on receipt of the necessary documentation. If a further grant is required, an Application will be submitted to the Grand Charity. It cannot, however, be over stressed that Masonic Charity is not paid as a right just because a Widow's husband was a Mason, but only where circumstances of actual necessity warrant assistance.
Financial assistance by any of the Charities will, in most cases, be in the form of a cheque payable to the Applicant's Lodge. This payment must not be held in the Lodge's account or shown in its financial report, but transferred to an account the Almoner keeps for such funds. This account should be one that requires anyone of two signatures on the cheques. Thus, if anything unforeseen happens to one of the signatories, the other can maintain the benefits to those in need.
In dealing with Widows who have been left with children to support, it should be borne in mind that no child has to go away to school, unless it is the wish of the Mother. Generous grants can be obtained to help Widows to feed and clothe their children whilst attending local schools. Too often cases are not brought to our attention because a Mother has been afraid that, if she asks for help, children are going to be sent to a boarding school.
Almoners ought not to limit their activities to those in financial distress, they should keep in touch with, and visit, all sick and elderly Brethren unable to attend Lodge regularly, remembering in particular the lonely, who, if they live too far away for him to visit will appreciate a letter. Secretaries have a duty to pass on to the Almoner all communications, such as apologies for absence, which indicate that a visit or letter is desirable.
It is essential that the Almonerl Home Charity Rep. immediately advise the Provincial Office when he becomes aware of the death of any Lodge member, or a dependant who was a beneficiary of Masonic charitable assistance. The Provincial Office will amend its records, advise the appropriate bodies and express to them, the thanks of the Province and the Lodge for their help.
An active Almoner, doing his job properly, is bound to be involved in expense. Every Lodge is ready to reimburse its Secretary and Treasurer for out of pocket expenses; it is not unreasonable for the expenses incurred by the Charity Steward and Almoner in carrying out their duties to be met out of Lodge Funds.
The Local Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Home
ALBERT EDWARD PRINCE OF WALES COURT
Penylan Avenue, Porthcawl CF36 3LY.
Telephone Number: 01656-785311
& Omissions Excepted ~ Version : 20 February 2017
© BMLCT & S A Crowley 2013 to Date