The Fund was set up in 1862 to provide relief to poor and distressed Masons or their families, and is the oldest existing Masonic Charity sitting under the Irish Constitution of Freemasonry. The Brethren of all Lodges that meet anywhere in the Province of Antrim or within a six mile radius of Belfast in the Province of Down are eligible to seek assistance from the Belfast Masonic Charity Fund, as soon as they receive their First Degree.
The Committee of the Fund is comprised of representatives from all Lodges within the above catchment area and meets on the last Friday of each month with the exceptions of June, July & August. The Committee is governed by a Chairman and Vice Chairman elected each year from the Body of the Lodge Representatives that attend each month.
The assessment criteria used by the Belfast Masonic Charity Fund to determine an individual’s eligibility for assistance is based on their definable income. The Fund will gather details of an individual’s finances, total income from wages, pension, social security benefits etc. and deduct certain living costs such as mortgage, rates etc. to determine the individual’s “definable income”.
The Fund is renowned for its rapid response to needy Brethren or their families and in addition to the regular monthly meetings, emergency cases may be facilitated should assistance be more urgently required.
A General Charity Fund was formed by Lodge No. 272 which led to the establishment of the Belfast Masonic Charity Fund in January 1862. The first chairman, 1862 – 1863 was James McCracken from Lodge 609 whose portrait hangs in Arthur Square Masonic Hall, Belfast.
The inaugural meeting of the Belfast Masonic Charity Fund was held on the 17th March 1862 at 9 Donegall Place, Belfast (The old Anderson and McAuley building) with Bro Charles Longford of Lodge 51 presiding as Chairman. In 1870 the Fund moved to new premises in Freemasons Hall, Arthur Square, Belfast which was designed by the famous architect and highly esteemed Brother Sir Charles Lanyon.
May 1876 saw a joint initiative with Belfast Masonic Widows Fund purchasing two graves in Belfast City Cemetery in order that any entitled individual could avoid the indignity of a paupers’ grave.
In 1877 a highly crafted Stone obelisk of Goragh Wood granite complete with Masonic symbols was erected at the plot which is situated on the main drive of the cemetery. This burial facility was used on several occasions as a result of the unfortunate fatalities due to the Belfast Blitz during April – May 1941.
To this day , we are called upon to relieve financial and emotional distress through accidents illness and death amongst brethren or their immediate family and with your continued support to the fund , we will strive to emulate the legacy left by our distinguished forebears and continue the service for which The Belfast Masonic Charity Fund is renowned.