Representatives of the Bath Freemasons’ Square Meals Project attended a virtual Civic Reception on Tuesday 9th March with the Mayor of Bath, Councillor Manda Rigby. These included members of the Freemasons’ committee, two local charities Mercy in Action and Sporting Family Change, and staff of B&NES Council who have all contributed to the project over the last year.
During that time, the charities and centres have distributed more than 25,000 two-course meals to vulnerable local families, free at the point of delivery. To fund this, Bath and Somerset Freemasons have raised more than £60,000 from within their organisation. That funding will enable the project to run until the end of May this year, thus delivering a further 7500 meals. A local giving page has now been started by the charities to raise funds from the public to enable the project to continue beyond that date.
Malcolm Toogood, from the committee, explained to the Mayor that when their regular meetings were suspended by the pandemic last March, Bath Freemasons looked for another way of continuing their normal charitable activities. With a fully-equipped commercial kitchen standing unused, they decided to provide frozen ready-meals to vulnerable isolated adults and underprivileged children in Bath and the surrounding area.
Their chef, Ben Hayward, evolved recipes for wholesome meals, but delivery was an issue, as a lot of local Masons who would normally volunteer were themselves vulnerable in the circumstances. So they contacted David Dixon, of B&NES Council’s Community Engagement Team, who put them together with the two local charities and the council’s own Childrens’ Centres in Foxhill, Keynsham and Radstock.
The Mayor responded “What you have achieved is truly remarkable. On behalf of the City of Bath, I am humbled and honoured to thank you. It demonstrates what can be done when we all work together. You should all be very proud of yourselves.”
Jilly Edwards of Sporting Family Change added “The frozen meals scheme has been fantastic as it’s enabled Sporting Family Change to support local families who are struggling the most with the Covid-19 pandemic. They’ve had access to healthy nutritious meals without having to leave their homes. Many families have said it’s made a huge difference, reducing anxiety and stress levels as they have stayed safe in their homes plus giving the feeling they are not facing the pandemic alone.”
A public appeal is now available through a ‘Local Giving’ page which can be found by clicking on this link. All of the money raised will be channelled to the Square Meals Project to fund the production of further meals and, if successful, this will extend our ability to support the two charities into the summer, and beyond if necessary.
For more information on the project, please view the video below: