The Masonic Charitable Foundation has awarded a grant of £75,000 to the Ashley Foundation; a Blackpool based charity that provides shelter and support to homeless people in Blackpool.
Spokesperson for the charity Laura Cooper explained that an application had been submitted to the United Grand Lodge of England for the employment of a Homeless Mental Health Empowerment Officer, providing support and information to residents of the charity’s hostels and ‘move-on’ flats. The award is for a three-year period and applications for the post are currently being sought.
The Ashley Foundation was established in 1997 and provides accommodation to single homeless people and encourages them to develop the skills necessary to live independently. The charity has three hostels in Blackpool as well as 40 ‘move-on’ flats, spread over eight sites. It also has three hostels in Blackburn. The Ashley Foundation doesn’t just offer a room, food, heat and light. It also provides a safe and secure environment in which the residents can develop the skills to return to mainstream living.
Visiting the charity’s head office in Abingdon Street, Blackpool to learn more of its work and services, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire Harry Cox, along with fellow Freemasons Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals David Randerson, Chairman of Blackpool Group John Turpin, Chairman of the North Fylde Group Duncan Smith and Blackpool Group Charity Steward Ian Stirling spoke with Support Officer Denise Boehme who will supervise the work of the Mental Health Empowerment Officer.
Denise explained that the homeless men and women who use the charity’s services come from a wide diversity of backgrounds and experiences. The personal and social factors that contribute to them becoming homeless are many and varied. These may include drug and alcohol misuse, lack of qualifications, lack of social support, debts – especially mortgage or rent arrears, poor physical and mental health, relationship breakdowns or even just coming from an institutional background such as having been in care, the armed forces, or in prison.
Describing the future role of a Mental Health Empowerment Officer, Denise went on to say: “Most people who become homeless can feel very isolated as many have lost all contact with their friends and families. People come to us with increasingly complex needs and to help them start to regain their independence we recognise that we must constantly modify and modernise our homeless services. Our clients progress and achievements as they work towards recovery are made even greater by the significant hurdles they must overcome. The employment of a Mental Health Empowerment Officer who is specifically experienced in dealing with mental issues facing many of the homeless will greatly enhance the chance of recovery of those who come to our shelters. This wonderful grant from the Freemasons will enable us to help some of the most vulnerable people in society.”
Following the visit, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox reported: “The Ashley Foundation is a perfect example of the concerns and aims of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Freemasons have always tried to help those less fortunate than themselves and the United Grand Lodge of England grants £1,000,000’s to such causes every year and it will continue to do so.”