Mae Murray Foundation
1990. Alix Crawford
Alix Crawford, from Larne, is helping disabled people and other socially isolated groups in Northern Ireland access a wider range of activities within their community through the ‘Mae Murray Foundation’.
Alix set up the charity in 2016 in memory of her late mother Mae who loved designing ways to ensure Alix’s daughter Talia, who has cerebral palsy, could experience everyday activities. The foundation has been working with Northern Ireland beach operators to create “Inclusive Beaches” which provide good access, parking and disabled toilets, as well as free beach equipment loan schemes. So far there are 5 locations across the province. The learning gained from setting up these inclusive environments will soon be published in a toolkit format, so that the “Inclusive Beach” model can be replicated elsewhere across the UK. The foundation is also working on a suite of further toolkits, to build inclusion in a range of other environments.
Mae Murray Foundation also provides a Resource Library which provides mobility equipment and independent living aids, as well as over 200 events throughout the year. Both services aim to increase participation and socialising of all abilities together.
In a personal letter to Alix, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“I want to thank you for your pioneering work to build a more inclusive society, by helping disabled people access community activities across Northern Ireland.
“From your outdoor events and your plans for Inclusion Zone to your Inclusive Beaches scheme, you are enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to experience the world together in an inclusive environment.
“I know your work has been inspired your mother’s love of designing ways to help your daughter Talia experience everyday activities.
“The Mae Murray Foundation is a wonderful tribute to her memory and all that she believed in.”
“The origins of ‘Mae Murray Foundation’ stem from my daughter Talia, born in 1999 and diagnosed at 10 months old with cerebral palsy. As a family, we quickly discovered that settings such as play parks, beaches and indeed play groups, did not cater for Talia’s needs. We faced ongoing exclusion and isolation: as Talia grew, so did the barriers.
“I founded ‘Mae Murray Foundation’ in 2016 with an aim to create change – allowing people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world and enjoy friendship together in inclusive environments.
“I am proud to have named the Foundation in memory of my late mother, Mae, to represent the positive, solutions-based ethos she herself upheld.
“‘Mae Murray Foundation’ currently supports over 1,400 families across Northern Ireland. We recognise one another to be of equal and inseparable value, regardless of physical or learning ability, sensory, medical or other need, age or caring role. Our partnership work with local authorities, health trusts and other stakeholders has led to the creation of: 5 Inclusive Beaches supporting 1,800 people annually, Inclusive Summer Schemes benefiting 80 children annually, a Resource Library lending over 150 free resources and an activity calendar delivering in the region of 200 events each year. Over the coming 12-18 months we shall be publishing a suite of toolkits to share our learning with other organisations across the UK and support the creation of further inclusive environments.
“Change has only been possible thanks to our small team of dedicated, passionate staff, amazing volunteers, knowledgeable members contributing their lived experience and, of course to Talia, whose motivation to take part within society has driven our work.
“I am delighted to be named as a Points of Light winner. This award is gratefully accepted as recognition of the value realised by co-producing solutions with those experiencing the barriers first-hand.”