Freemasons have stepped in to help Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice care for children and families who need to remain safe in their own homes during the pandemic.

Care teams based at the North Anston hospice  have had to get innovative with technology and find virtual ways of ‘being there’.

Video calls enable them to check in on young patients in isolation, organise music therapy sessions remotely, and keep in contact with parents and siblings who receive counselling.

With over 300 families to support remotely, staff were delighted when a hugely welcome batch of electronic tablets arrived from the Yorkshire West Riding Freemasons group.

The 17 donated tablets, worth around £200 each, are already being put to good use and staff are now exploring ways of organising other ‘virtual’ support, such as wellbeing groups for hospice parents and carers.

“We’d like to thank the Freemasons so much for thinking of Bluebell Wood,” said Susan Wood, the hospice’s Director of Care.

“Our staff have had to face many challenges in making sure that every child and family we support still receives the best possible care during the pandemic.

“Families need us now more than ever, which is why we’re working incredibly hard to deliver our life-changing services in different ways, to ease pressure on the NHS and support children with life-threatening and life-shortening conditions during these unprecedented times."

“The Freemasons’ generous gift will make our contact with families in care so much easier.”

The 17 tablets will be used by families at the hospice as soon as services can return to normal. 

Freemason Mike Holmes delivered them to the hospice on behalf of the Yorkshire West Riding group, which has 198 Lodges and 5,500 members across the region.

“The staff who greeted me at Bluebell Wood - from a safe distance of course - were absolutely over the moon to receive our donation,” he said.

“It was a very heartwarming feeling to know that we were making a difference in these very difficult times. We know the hospice will make really good use of them.”

The Yorkshire West Riding group also donated 16 tablets to the Forget-Me-Not Hospice in Huddersfield and 17 to Martin’s House Hospice in Boston Spa.

At the same time, Freemasons across England and Wales were giving out the devices in their own communities.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation, which has its origins in one of the oldest charities in the world, gifted a total of 1,200 to more than 50 hospitals, care homes and hospices.

The donations were coordinated through a new Covid-19 Response Group, formed by the Freemasons’ United Grand Lodge of England in response to Covid-19.

The Response Group used the Freemasons’ vast network to source the tablets quickly and deliver them to those in need.

Dr David Staples, CEO of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: “At this time of national crisis we are working together in our local communities to provide charity and support to those in need, as we have done for the last 300 years.

“Our newly formed Covid-19 Response Group ensures what we do is both effective and targeted and unites our 200,000 members so they can make a significant difference."

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