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Freemasons support book clubs
that reduce isolation for older blind people

mcf blind partially sighted


The Masonic Charitable Foundation has awarded £40,000 to Living Paintings, a charity which strives to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people through the provision of tactile and audio books. This grant will support the charity’s network of Touch to See Book Clubs, funding the salary of a Volunteer Co-Ordinator and the production of new Touch to See books. The grant was marked with a visit by two local Freemasons to one of the Book Clubs in Newbury.

The clubs provide an opportunity for older blind and partially-sighted people to engage with a range of topics including gardening, history and art and aim to reduce loneliness by encouraging members to get out of the house and take part in shared creative activities.

Age UK states that 1 million people will go a whole month without speaking to anyone. Social isolation is particularly an issue for those with visual impairments, who often find it difficult to meet new people. The Book Clubs stimulate conversation, stir memories, allow people to talk and encourage people to take up new interests. Because of this, they are an ideal catalyst for developing social networks and giving people a purpose.

Camilla Oldland, Chief Executive at Living Paintings, said: “We are so delighted that the Masonic Charitable Foundation has chosen to support our work with a generous award that will enable us to continue and expand our very special project working to end the desperate isolation that is suffered by blind and partially sighted people living in their later years. With 250 clubs across the country there is so much more that we could do, demand is huge, and this award will go a long way in helping make the work possible.”

Colin Hayes, Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the Masonic Province of Berkshire, said: “Experiencing the work of Living Paintings first hand was very touching indeed. We are incredibly proud to support the charity and were impressed by the work we saw during our visit – the volunteers were doing a magnificent job running the Book Clubs. The Freemasons of Berkshire plan to help Living Paintings further by providing volunteers to assist the Newbury group on an ongoing basis, and we look forward to working with them well into the future.”

To find out more about Living Paintings, visit: www.livingpaintings.org