England – Freemasons Help Guildford Charity to Deliver Christmas Care Packages


England - Freemasons Help Guildford Charity to Deliver Christmas Care Packages

With COVID restrictions causing so much heartache and disappointment this Christmas, one Guildford charity has gone the extra mile to bring a smile to those they support.

Oakleaf is a Guildford-based mental health charity, supporting hundreds of individuals struggling with mental illness, many of whom live alone or without family nearby. However, because of the ongoing pandemic, they were not able to provide them with their traditional Christmas celebrations.

Jen Clay, Fundraising & Partnership Manager

The charity therefore decided, instead, to produce and personally deliver 300 Christmas Care Baskets to those they support. This was done throughout the Christmas period, with the help of dedicated local volunteers, plus sponsors which included two local Surrey Freemason’s Lodges.

The Care Baskets contained various festive treats, including Christmas cake, shortbread, tea, crackers, chutney, chocolate, cordial, and festive puzzles, plus trivia packs.

They were given as a gesture, to help show those in need of support that, despite the pandemic, they are still cared for and have not been forgotten.

Preparing the Baskets

The festive season is a time of year which can be particularly challenging for those suffering depression, anxiety, and isolation, and so it is hoped, that the baskets helped to bring a smile and a little added happiness this Christmas.

Jen Clay, who is Oakleaf’s Fundraising and Partnership manager, thanked Castle Keep Freemason’s Lodge and South West Surrey Masters Lodge, who each donated £200, plus Neil Powling who privately donated a further £200 via the South West Surrey Masters Lodge. She said:

“Thank you so much to everyone at the two lodges. Through your generous donations, totalling £600, you have sponsored the equivalent of thirty Care Baskets. We have only been able to deliver these baskets because of donors such as yourself.”

Care Baskets Ready to Go

These are difficult times. It is heart-warming therefore to see so many different charities, volunteers and local organisations stepping forward to help those in need.

Oakleaf Volunteers

The Surrey Provincial Grand Lodge has more than 6,000 members, belonging to 254 Lodges meeting in 13 centres across the county.  Surrey Freemason’s Lodges come under the United Grand Lodge of England.  This represents around 1.3% of Freemasons across the UK.

Oakleaf has been helping the community to manage its mental ill-health since 1995. Following the Care in the Community Act 1990, an occupational therapy unit at the old local Victorian asylum, Brookwood Hospital, closed and relocated to Guildford. The charity was registered in 1997 and has been led by its Chief Executive, Clive Stone, ever since.

The charity’s aim is to transform the lives and futures of adults managing their mental ill-health and help them secure the skills, confidence and training needed to return to the workplace.

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