In September of this year, Kim Whittle, the Social Worker who leads the “Supporting Communities, Improving Lives” project started to try to raise funds to make Christmas happen for some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable families in the Bury area.

The appeal came to the attention of Bury District Charity Steward Steve Clark who met with Kim to ask what Freemasonry and the East Lancashire Masonic Charity could do to help. Kim explained that following on from the riots which spread across the nation in 2011, the government set up the National Troubled Families Agenda which directs Local Authorities to support families which have the most complex needs. The programme in Bury is run by the “Supporting Communities, Improving Lives” team which Kim leads. At the present time, the SCIL team are supporting 130 families and around 300 children who are among the most underprivileged in our society. Kim asked if it would be possible for the ELMC to help to fund a Christmas party. Steve made the application to the ELMC who did not hesitate in providing £500 to fund the whole of the Christmas party.

Steve spoke to the Lodge and Chapter charity stewards about the swift response of the ELMC and several of them said they felt this was exactly the type of cause they believed their Lodges and Chapters would be eager to support. Several Lodges and Chapters decided to make donations so that in addition to having a Christmas party, the children of the families who are being supported by the SCIL team could also have Christmas presents.

The Christmas Party was held in the week before Christmas. Before the party, Steve was lucky enough to meet Father Christmas in his grotto. Father Christmas witnessed the handing over of donations which totalled over £1200.00 to Kim. Kim said “I want to thank everyone from the Freemasons who was involved for their very generous donations. Christmas can be a very difficult time for these families with many of the children receiving little, and sometimes nothing at all. It has been extremely heart-warming to see the huge response that the Freemasons have given to our appeal on behalf of the families we support. We cannot thank you enough.”

Steve Clark presents the cheque to Kim Whittle assisted by Father Christmas