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On a recent visit to the old Crown Hotel Building in Stonehouse Plymouth, which now houses the “Oasis Project” Foodbank run by the Trussell Trust, Nick Ball, Deputy Head of the Devonshire Freemasons, accompanied by his wife and Bob Syme together with his wife met Maria Mills who has been Foodbank Manager there since 2007, to present her with a certificate denoting the £4000 grant made to them from the Devonshire Masonic Benevolent Fund together with the Masonic Charitable Fund (MCF).

Plymouth foodbank gets £4000 grant from Devonshire Freemasons

When discussing the work undertaken by the foodbank Maria told Nick that most of their donations of food and cash came from the public and supermarket collections but also need to be able to spend up to £500 each week purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables, they serve up to 150 families every week for which they need around two tons of produce.

To keep the centre running smoothly requires around 68 volunteers and two part time paid staff which split into 3 teams, those who collect, those who sort it all out and those who distribute it to the families in need. They are part of a group of 5 Trussell Trust centres in Plymouth and they all share best practice to ensure they give the best service and advice to their clients, they also give specialist advice and life skills training which they hope will help “Empower not just Enable people”.

What became very evident to Nick was the total dedication and love that Maria had, not only for the work but for the volunteers and people they served, an incredible lady with an equally incredible and dedicated team.

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:

  • Plymouth Foodbank £4,000
  • Exeter Foodbank £4,000
  • Northern Devon Foodbank £4,000
  • Tavistock Foodbank £4,000
  • Buckfastleigh Foodbank £4,000

The grant from Devonshire Freemasons Benevolent Fund is financed jointly by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Deputy Provincial Grand Master, V.W. Bro Nick Ball 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