On the 13th of February, the RW Provincial Grand Master, Robert Frankl, visited the Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone in Blackburn, Lancashire, to gain an in-depth understanding of how the organization had benefitted from a grant of £36002 awarded to them by the Masonic Charitable Foundation back in March 2023.

The Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone is an organisation that plays a crucial role in the local community, providing a safe and nurturing space for young people to engage in activities that help them develop valuable skills. The Youth Zone caters to individuals aged between five to nineteen years old (and up to twenty-five through the Youth Hub), offering diverse programs aligned with its three key pillars: skills and aspirations, cohesion, and health and well-being. The Youth Zone provides a range of universal youth work services, seven days a week, which can be accessed voluntarily by young people for free. Additionally, it supports small community hubs, religious groups, and sports clubs by providing facilities for them to meet.

During the visit, Duane Jeffers, Aspiration, Skills and Employability Manager at Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone, and Laura Billington, Project Worker for the Dare to Dream Initiative, showed the RW Provincial Grand Master around the facilities. The Dare to Dream Initiative is a project that connects young people leaving statutory care with Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone Patrons. The project aims to build on the aspirations of young people and explore practical routes to local industry with a group of dedicated business mentors. The Youth Hub Team has worked closely with the Leaving Care team to develop the program, which includes the recruitment and training of business mentors, preparing young people over eight weeks to be ready for the world of work, and working with businesses to ensure young people and employers are supported in the workplace.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation have been instrumental in enabling the Youth Zone to continue providing its valuable services to young people in the area. The Youth Zone has demonstrated its commitment to helping young people develop valuable skills, and the Dare to Dream Initiative is a testament to its dedication to creating practical routes to local industry.

The RW Provincial Grand Master was impressed with the facilities and services offered at Blackburn With Darwen Youth Zone. He highlighted the fact that it is essential to visit recipients of grants from both the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the East Lancashire Masonic Charity (ELMC) the principal charity for Freemasons in the Masonic Province of East Lancashire. This is to see that the grants are being put to good use and to relay the positive message back to the brethren of how much their support changes the lives of so many others within the public domain.