East Kent Freemasons and One Big Family – helping the homeless
We are so very grateful. This really makes a difference to a small charity like ours. Seriously, you lot are bloody amazing!
The work That OBF does at Dukes House is so important.
I’m more than happy to do what I can to give back and help such a great charity
For most of the freemasons there, this was just another day of volunteering and doing some good in the community. For one however, it meant a whole lot more…
One Big Family (OBF) is a charity based in Chatham helping the homeless. As well as operating a soup kitchen and delivering food parcels and home starter packs, OBF also provide supported accommodation at Dukes House for up to nine residents, all of whom were formally sleeping on the streets.
At Dukes House, volunteers provide support to help turn lives around. Building trust takes time and effort but the team can help residents in so many ways. Here, the residents are
- Learning life skills such as cooking and cleaning
- Learning how to pay bills and look after their money
- Receiving help with getting to appointments
- Receiving medical attention (including dentists and opticians)
- Learning to listen to instructions and follow rules
Most of all, the residents learn that people actually care and are not going to give up on them, even if they make a mistake.
Liz Shaw, one of the founders of OBF, had put out a plea for volunteers to paint the kitchen at Dukes House, which consists of two rooms and a lobby, and was in desperate need of redecoration. As is often the case, East Kent Freemasons were quick to get involved, and before long, a working party was assembled, and a date was arranged for the work.
In order that OBF incurred no costs, everyone brought their own brushes and rollers etc, and the paint was very generously donated by Lucas UK Group Ltd.
So – on 23rd September, six men gave up their Saturday, and got on with the job. As two of them had spent the previous Tuesday doing the prep work, they were able to start painting straight away. The banter flowed and in what seemed like no time at all, the job was done.
To most of the men there, it was just another day doing what freemasons do. But for one, it meant so much more. Ken Quarrington, a past master of Fraternitas Lodge, has special reason to support charities like OBF, as he was once homeless himself. After coming out of the army, with whom he had served in Kuwait and Bosnia, Ken fell deeper and deeper into alcoholism and eventually lost everything – including his marriage.
Owning nothing but a bag of clothes and the car in which he was living, Ken realised he’d hit rock bottom and decided to make a change. With the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, the support of his lodge, and his own determination to set an example for his children, Ken has turned his life around. He is now a very successful businessman and is the managing director of his own company, which employs more than twenty people. He’s been sober for 14 years.
Ken said, “The work That OBF does at Dukes House is so important. Getting people back on track and supporting them in learning to manage the stresses of everyday life is such a great help. I can remember when just the thought of opening a letter made me so anxious that I had to build myself up to it! I’m more than happy to do what I can to give back and help such a great charity.”
And it doesn’t stop there. On Saturday 14th October, Ken is raising funds for OBF by taking part in a walk from the soup kitchen at Victoria in London to the soup kitchen in Chatham – about 60km! If you’d like to sponsor him (and why wouldn’t you?), please follow the link.
As for the kitchen, Liz couldn’t be happier. She said, “We are so very grateful. This really makes a difference to a small charity like ours. Seriously, you lot are bloody amazing!”
To find out more about the work that One Big Family do, or to volunteer, please visit their website.
The working party;
Mark Lawson – Honor Oak Lodge 1986
Sam Bearman – Honor Oak Lodge 1986
Chris Luchford – Honor Oak Lodge 1986
Ken Quarrington – Fraternitas Lodge 6046
David Mantle – St Michael’s Lodge 1273
Tom Carter – Future initiate of Honor Oak Lodge 1986
One Big Family
One Big Family is a small, dedicated charity, supporting homeless and vulnerably-housed people in Medway and Huddersfield.
They provide food, drink, clothing, toiletries and other vital items to those in need via regular outreach work and soup kitchens. They provide food parcels for the local community, starter kits and essential packs for newly housed people who may need them.
Run by an enthusiastic, committed group of volunteers, One Big Family also offers a listening ear and good company. With strong links to other organisations and charities, we signpost to sources of support and help.