On a recent visit to The Mint Methodist Church in Fore Street, Exeter, Andy Vodden MBE, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, met Mark Richardson the Foodbank Manager to present him with a certificate denoting the £4000 grant made to them from the Devonshire Masonic Benevolent Fund together with the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
When discussing the work undertaken by the foodbank Mark told Andy that most of their donations of food and cash came from the public and supermarket collections. They serve between 150 & 200 families every week for which they need around two tons of produce.
To keep the centre running smoothly takes around 160 volunteers and four part time staff split into 3 teams, those who collect, those who sort it all out and those who distribute it to the families in need. The area they cover stretches from Cranbrook to Dawlish.
Mark told of the generosity of the people of Exeter, quoting one appeal put out, saying they had run out of coffee, within 24 hours an anonymous donor sent a pallet of coffee (around 500 jars) to his house. Mark sees his role as being there to empower people not just enable them.
What became very evident to Andy was the total dedication and love that Mark had not only for the work but for the volunteers and people they served, an incredible man.
Freemasons from Devon have made a series of grants to local food banks, bringing their contributions over the last twelve months to over £28,500.
In the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty - including 4.5 million children. During the pandemic, food banks supported by the Trussell Trust network saw an unprecedented increase in need. Between last April and September, food banks in their network provided 1,239,399 of emergency food parcels to people in crisis – of these, 470,854 went to children. Overall, this represents a 47% increase in need during the crisis compared to a 23% increase seen this time last year. The last published figures (2018-19) suggest over 24,000 food parcels were handed out just in Devon.
Previous Donations from the National Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) Covid-19 Fund:
- Ivybridge Foodbank £6,000
- Plympton Team Ministry Community Foodbank £1,500
Devonshire’s local ‘WAKE’ Fund additionally awarded:
- Plymouth Foodbank £1000
Currently matched funding grants:
- Exeter Foodbank £4,000
- Northern Devon Foodbank £4,000
- Tavistock Foodbank £4,000
- Buckfastleigh Foodbank £4,000
- Plymouth Foodbank £4,000
The grant from Devonshire Freemasons is financed jointly with the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Andy Vodden MBE, said:
“It’s not been an easy time for anyone recently, and we were happy to support such a valuable community asset during these increasingly difficult times”
Bro Alec Collyer MBE
Provincial Press Officer