The Creighton Centre
The Masonic Charity Foundation (MCF) has recently awarded a grant of £50,000 to The Creighton Centre to support its Project Homeline.
The Creighton Centre (previously known as Bishop Creighton House) describes itself as "a small charity with a big impact" and was founded in 1908 through the foresight and determination of Louise Creighton, the widow of Mandell Creighton, who had served as the Bishop of London. Whilst living in Fulham Palace, Louise saw the distressful and unsanitary conditions, that were common in the east end of London at the time, were becoming more prevalent in Fulham, and that infant mortality was unacceptably high. Wanting to do something about this, she founded a settlement that would take in mothers and children as well as being a base for an outreach to improve conditions for children in local workhouses.
Moving onwards to the present day, the charity reaches out to those in need in Hammersmith, Fulham, Westminster and beyond, with the young, the elderly, the isolated, the lonely, the frail and the poor being helped daily through its many projects.
Homeline is run for the benefit of socially isolated older people experiencing both loneliness and health-related concerns, with the average age of a beneficiary currently being 82 years old. The charity assesses the needs of each referral and, using trained volunteers, can support them with any or all of the services it provides, including daily or weekly 'safe & well checks', conducted on the phone or in person, giving guidance on accessing benefits, food delivery, social events, educational classes such as dementia awareness and digital inclusion and physical activity classes. All are delivered free of charge and continue for as long as support is needed.
The Creighton Centre supports 350 elderly people through Homeline and regularly works with UCL to conduct an independent review of the effectiveness of their services. The most recent survey of beneficiaries has shown that 92% feel less isolated/more connected with others, 92% feel less lonely, and 93% feel happier because of the charity's support.
The MCF grant will help the charity recruit, train, and support 30 more volunteers (giving them a total of around 100) so they can help even more people in need, with numbers having grown by around a third since pre-pandemic. It will also help them continue to trial and introduce more services requested by their beneficiaries, including a walking group and a reading club to support reducing isolation in later life.
Ruth is 87 and has lived alone since her husband died suddenly ten years ago from a heart attack. Her son and his children live in Australia, so she rarely sees them. She remains cheerful but has little contact with the outside world as she requires breathing equipment; relying on an oxygen tank for part of the day. She was referred to Homeline by her GP, and she now receives daily "safe & well" calls from volunteers who also deliver shopping and other essential items. She has a volunteer called Betty who visits her every week. Betty's son also lives in Australia, so they very much have something in common. Ruth describes the daily calls as a lifeline and says, "I don't know what I would do without Betty, I really don't".
Eva has been volunteering with Homeline for over ten years, during which time she has visited older people in their homes and helped regularly with the "safe & well" telephone calls, including at weekends. Throughout the pandemic, Eva helped vulnerable service users with their shopping and collected prescriptions from local pharmacists.
When asked how the MCF Grant would impact the charity's work, Lee Smith, Chair of the Creighton Centre, said: "We're very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant for our project for older people. Demand for the service has increased significantly over the last few years, and this grant will make a huge difference to the level of services we can provide and to the lives of those helped".
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 51 April 2023 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 51 here.