The adjective term of a ‘down and out’ person relates to a person being without money, a job, or a place to live, in fact quite destitute.
This form of destitution is clearly apparent and seen on many of the UK city centre streets, under many highways and by-ways. The term ‘objective’ relates to ‘a thing aimed at or sought a goal’, conjoin these two terms and in this case is where the needy become quite literally, served by some good.
Ezra McGowan of Hand and Heart Lodge No 4109 and his brother Nathan, a former Freemason in a London lodge but soon to be a joining member of a West Lancashire lodge, through their travels have seen many situations in our city streets and in particular Manchester, Peterborough and London where people were and clearly still are, just living in tents and makeshift ‘cardboard box homes’ or just sleeping rough and in fact quite destitute and many through no fault of their own.
Two years ago, Ezra along with his brother took an objective decision to try to support these unfortunate individuals and to give some support by way of warm food, warm clothing and in the really destitute circumstances what Ezra refers to as ‘crisis packs’ which contain, a hat, gloves, sandwich, drink and male or female specific toiletries. Ezra initially purchased what he refers to as a ‘burger van’ which he had inspected and passed by the authorities for distribution of hot soup and other food.
Between the brothers, they then set up trailers for use in the Manchester, Peterborough and London areas which is where they distribute today. They proudly display the square and compass on their trailers and on their hats, of which they are frequently asked about their significance to which Ezra responds it’s about helping others and helping people to realise themselves.
When Ezra was asked for his reasons and his experiences for their work, he said: “I have been blessed in life with family and business; I have also been privileged to have the total enjoyment of support from within Freemasonry.” Ezra refers to his lodge as a wonderful friendly experience and he said it’s time he and his brother gave something back into society and he saw the homeless and those very much less fortunate people as a way to do exactly that.
Ezra’s experiences transmit quite a stark vivid realisation of what it is actually like to be in such a social disposition that affects all are all faiths. He estimates in his own experience that there are less than five women to every 50 males. There can be threatening situations and sees people having to move from location to location. He said that in one recent scenario a man and wife had lost their home, business and everything associated with family and were living in a derelict shop doorway – this is why he helps.
The brothers also assist in supplying provisions to local shelter homes and an outreach men’s home in Salford, Manchester and more recently supported both the local Women’s Institute and PROBUS meetings at Urmston Masonic Hall in providing coffee, tea, biscuits and chocolates.
Currently self funded, Ezra along with his brother have recently set up a registered charity, numbered 1164359 which is called The Forget-Me-Not Trust and hope that any further donations they can obtain will assist those who are in dire need. They have a website too which is; http://theforgetmenottrust.org.uk
At a recent Hand and Heart Lodge Christmas ladies to dine evening, a presentation of £50 was donated towards the charity and a ‘forget-me-not’ raffle raised a further £110 with a further donation of £20 from a very ‘moved’ lady, Ezra responded by thanking the lodge members and their ladies for such fine support saying he was most humbled and quite taken by the support and said that the donation will go such a long way in feeding a lot of people on these forthcoming, cold winter nights.