randeep Sethi, a Derbyshire Mason and senior care worker in Staffordshire organised a wonderful lunch for children in care and the staff who look after them. The children are from Derbyshire and Staffordshire so Burton on Trent was the ideal venue.
Nine Masons volunteered to help, predominately from Carnarvon and Trisantona lodges. In addition, W Bro Malcolm Prentice’s wife and two of his sons ( one of whom is a mason ) were also on hand to help. Carols were sung against a backing track played over amplifier and the meals were served along with Olive Tree catering who opened up and cooked for the event. Two of the younger masons even helped with the washing up afterwards!
It is hoped that this will continue as an annual event, twice as many children came this year! All the children received a gift voucher, Christmas card and a selection box. The funding is via the special events ring fenced fund held within the Provincial Grand Charity. When individual lodges donate to this fund, it’s ring fenced for the specific purpose. TLC bears were given to those teenagers in care who came with babies.
Trandeep wrote a heart felt letter to the Provincial Grand Master:
“Dear Provincial Grand Master.We had our Care Leavers/ Children in Care Christmas meal yesterday at Ashfield House. 26 children attended with some of my staff, looked after by an incredible team of Masons, led by Michael Hitchcock and Malcolm Prentice. I want share with you please the positive impact that this event had on those that attended and how grateful we all are to all of you for holding this.
As you know from your profession the children that we work with have come from very difficult backgrounds. They have suffered abuse, rejection and loss. Yesterday a vista of what life can truly look like was presented, it allowed the children to be with incredibly caring individuals that are there for no advantage to themselves, truly selfless. I hope you don’t mind me using first names of the children, my staff wanted and indeed I want to share the stories with you. I have permission from the children for this. 2 sisters attended yesterday, Angela and Harriet, Angela attended with her baby Tamara. Harriet is 14. That was the first time in their lives that they have been able to sit together as a family and enjoy a Christmas meal. Both were genuinely giddy with excitement, laughing and almost in tears with happiness. Kate is a young lady that has never been to an event with so many people, she struggles with anxiety, managing her emotions with self-harm. In my conversation with Michael I was sharing with him the extent of self-harm, she genuinely has; there is no part of her arm to her chest that does not have a laceration scar. I was so worried about her that I asked 2 staff members to sit beside her to offer support. Through the afternoon she became ever more confident speaking and even singing carols. Provincial Grand Master, she is a young lady that I am told has never, ever eaten a full meal throughout her years in care. Yesterday she did; what an achievement! This was truly magical to hear and see, I was almost in tears and had to leave the room to pull myself together. Bryon is a young man who arrived late and when I discovered why I could not believe it. He attended the event last year, unfortunately he missed his linking train to Burton from Birmingham. He was so determined to come he walked for an hour to new street train station then caught a train to Burton. That is how much what you do for him means. Claire has no family at all, she would be spending the festive period alone having negative thoughts, she was telling us yesterday made her year, she has already said that she wants to come again next year. She is planning to spend the period with other young people who she met on the day. Mary lost her mother this year to drink and drugs. Her mother was her only surviving immediate relative and without yesterday’s event she would be spending the time alone as well. She was so grateful I cannot express this enough to you. Jake who sufferers from severe torrents was so happy that he put all of his fears to one side and stood up at the end to thank Malcolm, Michael and cohort. As the event came to a close the children did not want it to end. They stayed around talking to each other wanting to extend and stretch the atmosphere. On the Journey home they were excited and making plans to meet each other on Christmas day and beyond.
Provincial Grand Master. Thank you so much for all of the provinces support for this event it makes a huge difference to the lives of Children in Care and Care Leavers. Where they would be thinking negative thoughts or taking negative actions they are now talking about yesterday.
Yours ever grateful,