W Bro Omaid Hiwaizi SLGR and V W Bro Andrew Manasseh PGSwdB explain the Metropolitan Response.

For probably the first time since the Second World War, we find ourselves in a situation where every person in the country has a role to play in helping save lives. This unprecedented crisis has led many to ask ourselves, “How can we help?”

The UGLE CO VID-19 Leads Group was established to actively seek out good ideas and best practice and see if they might be implemented nationally; funded with £1M set aside by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) for this purpose.

The Group comprises a representative Provincial Grand Master from each of the nine Regional Communication Groups and AMetGM Andrew Manasseh representing London (London being the tenth RCG in its own right).

The Group is chaired by Dr David Staples, the Grand Secretary and UGLE CEO and also includes David Innes (CEO MCF), Shawn Christie (AGSec) and Katherine Nisbet (Events Manager FMH) as members.

Andrew Manasseh assembled a London COVID-19 Response Group (LCRG) to seek out and implement London initiatives. His team includes Metropolitan Grand Secretary David Swain, Metropolitan Grand Director of Ceremonies Warren Duke, former Metropolitan Grand Inspector and former Metropolitan Grand Charity Steward, Stratton Richey, Keith Knowles, Metropolitan Grand Inspector John Parry and Metropolitan Communications Officer Omaid Hiwaizi.

The purposes of the COVID-19 Leads Group are as follows:

A. To actively seek out good ideas and best practice and bring them to the COVID-19 Leads Group to discuss and see if they might be implemented nationally.

B. To facilitate the roll out of the initiatives to be sponsored and to generate enthusiasm and buy-in concerning these ideas.

C. To have the maximum impact within and across Provinces in terms of providing relief and support to the most vulnerable whilst ensuring that the Craft gets value for money, and it is hoped, also gaining some positive publicity.

After consulting the London membership which resulted in a wide range of responses, the LCRG proposed a number of initiatives:

– £10,000 for the Felix Project Food Bank, a Registered Charity which rescues good quality surplus food supply and delivers it to emergency food hubs, food banks, homeless shelters, local charities, churches, schools and hospitals.

– £10,000 to City Harvest London, a Registered Charity which delivers high quality, nourishing food to organisations that provide meals to vulnerable people including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, children’s programs, centres for the elderly, and refuges for women experiencing domestic violence and to date has delivered £10m of food: 80 million meals.

– £33,000 to manufacture and deliver over 36,000 protective medical visors to major London hospitals, not-for-profit care homes and hospices.

– £20,000 to purchase 115 Samsung Galaxy tablets for the Intensive Care Units of 24 major London hospitals to enable patients to communicate with their relatives. This national initiative has resulted in nearly 1,200 tablets being purchased and distributed to hospitals across England and Wales.

– Finally, a £25,000 grant has been issued for pre-prepared meals to be cooked and distributed to vulnerable and disadvantaged people from the West London Masonic Centre in Ealing. Brethren at the WLMC are currently cooking 800 meals per week, whilst similar initiatives are taking place in Masonic Centres throughout the country providing tens of thousands of meals per week to the needy and vulnerable.

The country has now moved to Phase Two of the response to the Coronavirus pandemic, which will concentrate on the period of transition between lockdown and returning to ‘normal’. Areas which are being considered for possible assistance in Phase Two include Young Carers, Domestic Abuse, Women’s Refuges and Mental Health. You are invited to email any specific ideas and suggestions to

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 41 July 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 41 here.