Three thousand children from low-income families in Cambridge will be able to access the city’s major cultural venues from their own homes during lockdown, thanks to a collaboration between Cambridge City Council, Freemasons and several other partners.
The lockdown has seen thousands of families across the city accessing online cultural and school education, while the most vulnerable families are being left behind. The Council’s neighbourhood and community development officers are in touch with vulnerable families in the city and they have asked for house-bound activities for their children, particularly those who lack digital access.
A £2,000 grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons will help to fund a series of Creative packs, containing inspiring activity sheets and arts and crafts materials so families can share positive experiences together. Many of these families do not have computers or Wi-Fi connections and may even lack the most basic resources such as a pencil.
The packs will be distributed via Cambridge’s community resilience networks and the newly established seven food hubs in the city. The Council plans to distribute 500 packs every two weeks in a project can will run for 12 weeks.
The packs relate to some of Cambridge’s most famous cultural venues, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, a world-renowned collection of over half a million beautiful works of art, masterpiece paintings and historical artefacts.
The second pack will feature the Curwen Print Study Centre, an educational fine art printmaking charity while a third will look at David Parr House, the creation of a working-class Victorian decorative artist who decorated his own terraced home in the style of the grand interiors he worked on every day. A fourth pack will work with Epic Tales, a performance company that use the power of storytelling to improve engagement, confidence, and creativity in schools and communities.
The grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
In response to the extraordinary need created by the coronavirus pandemic, Freemasonry is providing special funding of £2.75 million for projects helping those who are particularly affected by the virus. This extra money comes on top of the estimated £45 million given to charity every year by Freemasons.
The Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Russ McPherson, said:
“Both as the Mayor of the City and as an active Mason, I am very grateful to the Cambridgeshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to reach children and families all over Cambridge with creative activities they can do at home. This is a wonderful opportunity to provide stimulating educational activities that families can do together.”
Peter Crussell from Cambridgeshire Freemasons, himself both an author and artist, said:
“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Cambridge City Council with this practical and imaginative scheme, which makes a real contribution to helping close the educational and cultural gap experienced by low income families in our community.”