UGLE shortlisted for both “Health and Wellbeing” and “Leader of the Year” at Investors in People Awards 2020

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is delighted to announce it has been shortlisted for the Health and Wellbeing and Leader of the Year categories at the Investors in People Awards 2020.

Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of UGLE, said: “Over the past few years, UGLE has put enormous effort into understanding, and supporting, the health and wellbeing of its staff. It is great to see that hard work has been recognised by Investors in People. Through these troubling times, we will continue to look after our most precious asset, those men and women who keep our organisation working and serve our 200k members.”


Dr Staples, who became CEO in 2018, has also been named a finalist in Investors in People – Leader of the Year up to 250 category. Since being appointed, he has worked tirelessly to create a positive and pleasant work environment, where staff enjoy coming into work.


Also competing for the Health and Wellness Award, the HR department has implemented a comprehensive strategy to ensure employees feel highly valued within the organisation. This has included: the creation of a staff committee, made up of employees nominated by staff, who share any concerns or recommendations from staff directly into the HR Director and CEO; the introduction of an Employee Assistance Programme, with access to a health e-hub and gym membership; provision of free fruit for the office to encourage staff to think about their eating habits; iImplementation of flexible working; aAppointment of four mental health departmental champions available for staff who need a friendly ear, support and advice; organising annual Mental Health Week and Learning at Work week events with high levels of engagement from staff; the introduction of new organisational values, a revamped appraisal system, and a new recognition and reward scheme. In addition managers and senior team members are trained and equipped to deal with difficult and challenging situations and with the support of HR, ensure staff are supported, recognised and given relevant help and guidance where required.


In a recent Back to Work survey following Covid-19 sent by the HR department to staff, 84% agreed that they has access to the things they need to succeed when working from home, and 86% agree that they are just as productive working from home as they are at Freemasons’ Hall.


Elizabeth Gay, Director of Human Resources, said: “I am passionate about health and wellbeing and the benefits of having a defined strategy and one that supports and fosters our culture and values. As an organisation, we are committed to providing a healthy working environment and improving the quality of working lives for all members of staff. I am absolutely delighted that UGLE is a finalist in the Health and Wellbeing awards category and proves that our hard work in this area has been recognised.”


This is an enormous achievement in such a short space of time, during a period where a major restructure is taking place centred on delivering improved services for members. In addition a new internal communications department was created, which is focussed on improving and implementing communications between its 100 employees.


UGLE were originally awarded Investors in People accreditation in 2018 shortly after Dr Staples’ appointment and was accredited at ‘Developed Level’ until 2021. The winners will be announced on the 24 November.


Women’s refuges becomes priority issue for Freemasons

More than £165,000 has been donated by Freemasons to help protect women and children from domestic abuse in the last three months. Around two thousand women have been helped by Freemasons during the lockdown, with support continuing as the country returns to normal.


More than 1,000 care packages are being donated to women and their children.


In November 2013, 19-year-old Amelia Arnold, the mother of an 11-month-old baby, was murdered by her partner. Her father Laurence Arnold, who is a Sussex Freemason, said: "I lost my daughter seven years ago. She was 19 years old, had a small child and was in a troubled relationship. I wish she’d had the support that a women's refuge can provide. If she had, she might be alive today."

After this tragic incident local Freemasons provided an annual financial contribution to The Sussex Refuge in memory of Amelia. They also stepped in to donate almost 100 police approved panic alarms to another refuge, RISE, (Refuge, Information, Support and Education) after it requested help for women in need.


In the first four weeks of lockdown in the UK, 16 women and girls were killed in suspected domestic homicides — more than triple the number from the same period in 2019. After that, 10 more have died in the two following months. The oldest was 82 years old and the youngest, killed with her mother and 4-year-old sister was only two.


In Nottinghamshire, childhood sexual abuse has quadrupled over the last four years. To try and bring these numbers down, Freemasons are also helping S.H.E. (Supporting, Healing Educating) with business costs from home such as telephone bills and providing apps to enable online meetings.


According to their projections, the institution looks after more than 1,000 exploited girls, women and men; and now, during the pandemic they have 50% more cases than normal. Freemasons also helped Nottinghamshire Independent Domestic Abuse Services (NIDAS) as well, with donations of 11 laptops, 10 smart phones and telephone bills.


Cases have also increased substantially in Devon during the Coronavirus pandemic. The services of SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) have come under incredible pressure and financial strain, so the Freemasons, hearing of their plight, funded a grant of more than £3,000 to enable them to continue their essential work.


Lucy Skye, SAFE Fundraising Manager said: “We are very grateful to the Devonshire Freemasons. SAFE is a grassroots local charity and this money will help us to continue to deliver vital recovery services. It is only by working together that we will succeed in achieving our aim of ending domestic abuse.”


More than 600 care packages with items being sourced locally are being donate to women and their children in Women’s Refuges in Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire and Nottinghamshire.

Elsewhere in London, Hestia Refuge and Solace Women’s Aid are receiving more than 430 care packages. The packages contain basic items and also school supplies for children and Teddy bear for babies.


Women’s refuges are also a topical subject for Somerset. There, the plight of the women came to the Freemasons’ attention and they pledged to help the Taunton Women’s Refuge – with Father Julian Lawrence – the Priest in Charge of the Holy Trinity Church, by donating £3,000 in support.


Dr David Staples, the chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: “No individual should be subjected to violence, or be in fear for their life, within their own home. Calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline run by Refuge was 25% above average in the second week of lockdown and 49% higher than normal after three weeks. This is a national crisis that needs to be addressed.

“As the United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasons are doing everything possible to support, protect and help women, children and men who are victims of these crimes and in extremely vulnerable situations. We should not forget that men also suffer from domestic abuse with the Men’s Advice Line reporting a 35% increase in calls in the first week of the lockdown.


“By providing this much needed support to refuges across the country we are assisting vital charities who are struggling under the additional cases due to Covid-19. Freemasons have supported their work before and during the pandemic and this vital aid will continue as the country returns to normal.”


They are helping all over the country, in Herefordshire for example, Freemasons are supporting West Mercia Women’s Aid. They are providing temporary housing for women with children, or elderly domestic abuse victims who – due to their age – cannot be housed with other women and need to be in isolation. In Bedfordshire, Freemasons have donated £ 5,000 for the five safe houses, who are currently caring for 75 families in the county.


While the Swindon Women's Refuge (SWA) receives constant help from the Freemasons in Wiltshire. In addition to creating and running a charity shop for survivors, they donate an Easter egg collection and a Christmas box each year to the SWA.


These are only few of many initiatives supported by Freemasons to aid vulnerable women and children. In West Wales, for example, Freemasons are supporting four women’s refuges. The West Wales Domestic Abuse Service, the Carmarthenshire Domestic Abuse Services, and Hafan Cymru domestic abuse charity with TV/DVD combos and furniture for the family rooms in the refuge.

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire North and East Ridings, Freemasons are supporting Hull Women's Aid, Evas Women's Aid, and Hull Refuge, providing safe refuge accommodation, free from abuse and offering time and space to recover from their experiences and start to take control of their lives. Elsewhere in Staffordshire Freemasons have donated £10,000 to the Black Country Women’s Aid Women’s Refuges, Savana Women's Refuge, Staffordshire Women’s Aid and The Haven Refuge.


St Leonards Y&C Centre, The Crossing Point, the Swan Centre, and SWACA (Sephton Women’s and Children’s Aid) received £8,000 from West Lancashire Freemasons to provide free practical and emotional support to help them to survive the impact of domestic violence and abuse.


The funding is being used to support a young women’s counselling service aimed at the 14-18 age group to support women who have had children removed from their care following trauma and relationship breakdown. They are also offering therapeutic support and open access service to women in the community so that they can come to a safe space and receive advice, guidance and support.


In Leicestershire & Rutland, for example, they are supporting ‘Quetzal’ to continue helping thousands of women over 16 years. They provide long-term counselling, crisis counselling and a telephone helpline to support women, who are recovering from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. While in Gloucestershire, Freemasons have donated £5,000 to Stroud Women’s Refuge.


More than £9,000 had been donated by Warwickshire Freemasons. They are supporting Birmingham Crisis Centre, Birmingham Rape and Sexual Violence Project, Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, Nuneaton Domestic Abuse Counselling Service, St Chad’s refuge, Roshni – South Asian Women’s support following domestic abuse, Warwickshire Refuge, and Women Acting in Today’s Society.


Elsewhere, in North Wales, Freemasons are helping DASU (Domestic Abuse Safety Unit). They usually arrive with very few personal belongings and are in need of items such as clothing, toiletries and toys. When moving into their own accommodation items such as bedding sets, home appliances and other items, are very much needed for victims to be able to start afresh in their own properties.

In East Lancashire, Freemasons are supporting two existing properties of the Salford Women’s Aid, and they are also funding the new one exclusively for use by women and children who are the victims of domestic abuse and who need help and guidance to set themselves on the pathway to a life where they are free from fear, violence and abuse. 


The United Grand Lodge of England’s Covid-19 Response group, which has been coordinating the relief programme, will continue to support women’s refuges in the second phase of its donation initiatives.


Freemasons are throwing open the doors of their famous headquarters in London’s Covent Garden 

Freemasons’ Hall is renowned as one of the finest Art Deco buildings in London and was built as a tribute to Freemasons who died in World War One. For the first time at Freemasons’ Hall, visitors will be able to experience an immersion in WW1 with a camp scene, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and Scottish Horse Yeomanry. The public will be able to walk around medical, mess and officers tents and view a 1917 Royal Ruby motorcycle and Anglia Ambulance Service used during the Great War.


This year the visitors will find many new attractions to enjoy with their families and friends. Visitors can follow a children’s trail and identify beautiful architecture throughout the building including pictures within stunning stained glass windows. Children also have the opportunity to take home Bright Brick figures of a dragon, throne and unicorn, as well as an ornate model of Freemasons’ Hall itself.


During the weekend, visitors will also find Freemasons in regalia in the magnificent Grand Temple to answer any questions the public have about Freemasonry and also watch an interesting short film about Freemasonry. The Order of Women Freemasons will also be there to talk to visitors about female Freemasonry in the stunning vestibules.  


Last year Freemasons’ Hall welcomed nearly 9,000 visitors into the venue, making it the second most popular attraction that weekend after the Foreign Office. This year, the building has been made Covid Safe with temperature checks and hand sanitizing units, Track and Trace QR codes and a one way system. There is no need to pre-book but visitors will be limited to no more than 30 per room over the weekend. Children will also get a free TLC teddy bear with every children’s face mask purchased.


Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive, said: “Freemasons’ Hall was built as a peace memorial to the 3,000 Freemasons who died in WW1, so this year we decided to make a tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for their country.


“We are also excited to re-open the building for visitors but we are facing difficult times so we have made the building Covid Safe to protect our members and visitors to ensure that everyone will feel safe inside Freemasons’ Hall. Anyone who is unable to visit in person can view our new online tour film”.


The Museum of Freemasonry will be open, displaying one of the world’s largest collections associated with Freemasonry, including Winston Churchill’s apron and the large throne made for the future King George IV, who was Grand Master from 1790-1813.


Organ performances will also entertain the visitors during the weekend. They will have the chance to listen to organ performances on Saturday and Sunday with five different organists playing a variety of songs on our magnificent pipe organ. The organ was constructed by famed British organ builders Willis in 1933 and was lovingly restored in 2015.


For those who prefer stay at home, Freemasons’ Hall will have talks online for people to watch and will be able to view a new tour film and behind the scenes footage of our Lodge Rooms.


All it takes to make a real difference