Trio of deserving Portsmouth charities receive cash boost from Community Chest scheme

A TRIO of deserving Portsmouth charities were ‘over the moon’ to receive a cash boost from a partnership between The News and the Freemasons.

Sunday, 5th December 2021, 1:54 pm

As part of the Community Chest scheme, which launched in September, money fundraised by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Masons is awarded to ‘incredible’ groups across the city.

The awards are given to groups that have been nominated by readers and then shortlisted by a panel of judges every few months.

Saturday saw funds gifted to youth support and activity organisation Motiv8, food provider Cosham Larder and the Solent MS Therapy Centre, which not only helps people living with multiple sclerosis but those currently tackling long Covid.

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Pictured is: Rev Amy Webb, Becky Stotesbury and Jo Jennings with their cheques from the Community Chest scheme. Picture: Keith Woodland (041221-44)

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During an event at the Masonic Hall, in Albert Road, Cosham, representatives from each group were thanked for their efforts and granted with cheques of £400 each.

Presenting was editor of The News, Mark Waldron.

He said: ‘We partnered with our local Freemasons for the Community Chest initiative to provide much-needed support to groups making a difference in their communities – and we have certainly achieved that with the first round of awards.

Pictured is: Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Charles Ackroyd presents a cheque to Motiv8 and Becky Stotesbury. Picture: Keith Woodland (041221-26)

‘They all have one thing in common in supporting those in need but it is wonderful to see the variety of that support – from providing sustainable supplies of food to families, to giving lifesaving oxygen to patients to allowing young people a safe environment to learn new skills and grow.’

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt attended to present one of the cheques.

‘This is such a great initiative,’ she said.

‘My thanks to the incredible fundraisers for their continuing efforts.

Pictured is: John Whitaker, Head of the Hampshire & IoW Freemasons presents a cheque to the MS Therapy Centre and Jo Jennings, the centre manager. Picture: Keith Woodland (041221-38)

‘Due to them we've been able to help some wonderful causes.

‘This is what our city is all about: people coming together to make life better for others.’

First announced as a recipient was the Motiv8 project, for which fundraising manager Becky Stotesbury accepted the cheque.

Motiv8 provides weekly sessions across venues in Portsmouth and Havant for young people aged nine to 19, as well as those with additional needs up to 25 years old.

Pictured is: Penny Mourdant MP presents a cheque to the Cosham Larder and the Rev. Amy Webb. Picture: Keith Woodland (041221-29)

Established 22 years ago, it hosts a range of different groups including craft activities and health and wellbeing sessions, to help ‘open doors’ for young people.

Becky said: ‘We are over the moon that we were selected. I understand that there were quite a few charities who applied.

‘The money will help us run our sessions and support young people across the city.

‘Everyone is finding it tough right now across the charity sector due to the pandemic.

‘And across Portsmouth and all the areas we have seen a huge increase in the needs of young people as a result of Covid.

‘We provide them with safe spaces to take part in activities that are good for their wellbeing across different times and days.

Pictured is: Mark Waldron, editor of the Portsmouth News. Picture: Keith Woodland (041221-20)

‘Young people learn by being with their friends and experiencing things.

‘They have just been through a period in their lives where almost everything was restricted. Coming out the other side some of them have told us they don’t feel safe. Our hubs provide them with places of safety.

‘Most of them have expressed they really want to come together and do positive things for their community and we’re also there to help them do that.’

For Jo Jennings, manager of the Solent MS Centre, in Hilsea, the money was a ‘nice surprise.’

The charity provides oxygen cylinders and a decompression chamber to help people improve their breathing and lung capacity.

Jo said the funds will help pay for a new oxygen cylinder.

‘The oxygen cylinders are really popular at the moment with all the long Covid patients we now see,’ she said

‘We have about 20 long Covid patients currently so that will really help them. Already we’re seeing our work make a massive difference to these people.

‘We had one woman who when she first started had to be brought in in a wheelchair. Now she just strolls in.’

She added: ‘It’s been very difficult to fundraise over the pandemic as we couldn’t do some of the things we normally would although we have an ongoing sale in our courtyard and we do whatever we can.

‘So this money will make a big difference to us and our patients.

‘We just want to say a massive thank you to those who nominated us and those who raised the money.’

Reverend Amy Webb, vicar at St Philip’s Church, Cosham, and St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Wymering, attended to collect a cheque on behalf of the Cosham Larder.

The community initiative was set up in February this year to provide cheap food to people in Cosham, Paulsgrove and Wymering. People pay £1 a year to be a member and then pay £3 each week for a bag full of food.

The food is overstock from local supermarkets and would be thrown away otherwise so the larder also helps to reduce waste.

Rev Webb said: ‘We are so grateful to be receiving this money.

‘The larder has proved so popular with the community.

‘It's not a food bank and what we found is there are a lot of people not eligible for food banks but they are still struggling to pay for food.

‘For many people they’re working hard to make their wages stretch.

‘We’re hoping to spend some of the money to expand our database so we can have even more members.

‘Currently we have around 500 but we know there are more who are interested.’

During the awards evening members of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons took part in a raffle event - with cash raised then set to be used for the next Community Chest donation.

Nominations for the next Community Chest are currently open to any group or individual in Portsmouth and the local authority areas of Gosport, Fareham, Havant, East Hampshire and Winchester.

All entries will be adjudicated by a judging panel, including Mr Waldron, two Freemasons, and two external members.

To make a nomination, send details about the group, what the money would be for, and how this would benefit the local community to [email protected]

The fundraising raffles and presentation events are open to the public to join in. To take part email Graham Lant on [email protected]

‘Kindness and giving’ at forefront of local Freemasons’ principles

WHEN the idea of the Community Chest project was floated by editor of The News, Mark Waldron, it followed more than a year of charitable fundraising events by local freemasons.

As the pandemic hit member Hampshire and Isle of Wight member Sue Lant set up a virtual raffle held every Friday with her husband Graham.

Members could buy raffle tickets online and then watch the draw via a video stream.

Between April 2020 and June 2021 a total of 62 raffles were held, raising a staggering £26,511.74, which was split between 39 charities.

Sue said: ‘Not only were we helping really deserving charities but I think the raffles gave lots of people something to look forward to every Friday, especially during the lockdowns.

‘Giving to charity is so important to us.’

Communications officer for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight group Roger Maber, added: ‘People join Freemasonry for many different reasons, some join for the friendships they will make that last a lifetime.

‘They meet people from different walks of life, span of ages and different life experiences but they are drawn together through the common experience and principles of Freemasonry.

‘Kindness and giving are deeply ingrained within those principles.

‘Our organisation provides a support structure that helps members make a positive contribution to communities and worthwhile causes through fundraising and volunteer work.

‘This is so well demonstrated by the men and women Freemasons who have worked so hard and successfully raised the monies for the local charities which received cash awards at the Community Chest charity evening.

‘Graham Lant and his team won’t stop here. Tomorrow they start working towards the next Community Chest charity awards evening which is going to be held at Gosport Masonic Centre during the early part of next year. And I know they are very much looking forward to receiving the readers’ nominations for these next awards.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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Showing off their creations from the Motiv8 craft event. Pictured: Karen Spurway (Lead Support Worker of Motiv8), Emily Anderson (12) and Kerri Knight (Youth Worker). Front row: Ronnie Stewart (9), Lily Redge (10) and Brooke Daniells (10). Picture: Mike Cooter (021221)
Emily Anderson (12), Lily Redge (10) and Brooke Daniells (10) at the Motiv8 craft event. Picture: Mike Cooter (021221)
Solent MS centre is offering treatments to people with Long Covid Pictured: Centre Manager, Jo Jennings Picture: Habibur Rahman
Solent MS centre is offering treatments to people with Long Covid Pictured: Patients using the Oxygen Chamber Picture: Habibur Rahman
The News Community Chest