The Somerset Masonic Charity has generously granted £2,500, matched by an additional £2,500 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, totaling £5,000 in support of SWALLOW’s Forest Group project.

On Friday, 9th February, a group of local Freemasons, along with their wives and partners; Ray Guthrie, the Provincial Grand Master for Somerset; Graham Puddy and Steve Collings representing The Somerset Masonic Charity and Masonic Charitable Foundation, attended a presentation at SWALLOW’s café in Radstock to hear all about the project.

Starting in April, the Forest Group and Woodwork Project is for adults with learning disabilities. It will be a safe and welcoming space where individuals will be able to spend time exploring nature and learning a range of outdoor skills, including plant and tree recognition, building shelters, making fires, cooking and woodwork projects.

Led by a qualified Forest Group tutor, who presently volunteers with SWALLOW, the woodwork element of the project will enable the members to make handcrafted products that would create a valuable work opportunity whereby attendees can sell their work in the community, whilst also bringing in a small income stream for the charity.

The Forest Group will also facilitate a deeper connection with nature and a greater respect for the environment. Research shows that spending time in nature has multiple benefits on both mental and physical health. It can improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anger. Being outdoors can also help to increase vitamin D levels, which is beneficial to health and wellbeing.

Bev Croney, SWALLOW’s Chief Executive (pictured right with Provincial Grand Master Ray Guthrie) said, “We are very grateful for this amazing donation from the Freemasons. This will allow us to start the Forest Group which our members have been asking for.

They love being outside and enjoying nature”.

Graham Puddy on behalf of Somerset Freemasons said, “I am very pleased we have been able to support SWALLOW with their new Forest Group. This will enable local people to develop additional skills to benefit them throughout life.”

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