Creating Change Together.

Story shared 08.07.2021

The Mae Murray Foundation, based in N.Ireland, has been set up to allow people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world and enjoy friendship together in an inclusive environment.  Mae Murray, who passed away in 2012, was the mother of chairperson, Alix Crawford. There was nothing Mae loved more than designing ways and means to ensure that her granddaughter, Talia – who has cerebral palsy – experienced opportunities that most of us take for granted. Mae was one of the Silent Givers and the embodiment of everything that the foundation now represents.

What difference has the pandemic made to the communities you serve?

As the country went into lockdown, access to vital services for our families stopped. Support such as school, respite, hospice, day care and assistance from family and friends disappeared almost overnight. Many of our members chose to shield and continued to do so all year due health concerns or health concerns of loved ones, if Coronavirus was contracted.

What impact did you see on your services as a result?

As a lived experience organisation focus on reducing social isolation and exclusion, this past year posed a significant challenge to us and our members.

We saw a significant increase in demand of our services at a time when, we were unsure how we would cover our core costs.

As an organisation, who does not receive core funding from government, we are reliant on fundraising activities and our membership to generate enough income to cover our overheads. Being unable to carry out fundraising posed an immediate risk to our operations.

What has the NET funding enabled you to do for those people you help?

This funding from NET enabled us to get staff back to work and adapt various projects to meet the changing needs of members, in line with government restrictions.

These projects included: a vast range of virtual activities, outdoor activities, lending of resources and equipment to families, early years powered mobility loan schemes and our Inclusive Beaches (creating new procedures to enable operations to resume for the 2021 season).

Being one of the few organisations to return to ‘face to face’ activities, it was our greatest reward to receive comments like this:

Today was quite an emotional day as it was our first day out as a family since we began shielding in early March. It was also the first thing I felt comfortable to attend as I knew the limited numbers would allow for social distancing. The event was outdoors and the many safety measures put in place were fantastic and well communicated in advance; giving an added level of reassurance.

What challenges/opportunities do you see ahead? The future of DPO’s - Why DPOs are important and why we need to invest in them and protect them in the future?

Lived experience DPO’s are essential, particularly in times of crisis, as those who are experiencing the difficulties first-hand are best placed to design the required intervention.

As an organisation, we’re also very aware of the importance of timely response and adapting to the urgency of need as we ourselves are living with the pressures. The demand of our services and our increase in membership reflects the importance of our work during this pandemic.

Had it not been for emergency funding, we would have struggled to function. Investment in and protection of DPO’s is crucial to the long-term support of disabled people and their families.

Read more about Mae Murray Foundation