We are recruiting!

Join our team and help to further our vision of a society which is inclusive to all ages and abilities. This full-time role will support Northern Ireland based charity to raise funds from various sources to secure income to further our work and vision. For more information on how to apply, including a full job description, click here.

Inclusive Play – N.I. children & families driving change across UK

In 2019, five hundred families, who all suffer exclusion from play parks, contributed to a study by Mae Murray Foundation and PlayboardNI, to share their lived-experience. The ‘Let Me Play’ report which explains the study findings, is the key evidence now underpinning a landmark statement by leading UK charities and industry bodies, on the topic of inclusive play.

In 2019, five hundred families, who all suffer exclusion from play parks, contributed to a study by Mae Murray Foundation and PlayboardNI, to share their lived-experience. The ‘Let Me Play’ report which explains the study findings, is the key evidence now underpinning a landmark statement by leading UK charities and industry bodies, on the topic of inclusive play.

Mae Murray Foundation Chairperson, Alix Crawford, was appointed to the statement working group in 2020 and is delighted to welcome the statement published today. “I have been striving to represent the voices of excluded children and families, and create high-level systemic change, that will deliver a network of quality play experiences for ALL children. This strong statement published today by the Children’s Play Policy Forum and the UK Play Safety Forum, states clearly that work to date has not been good enough. We have the knowledge and the lived-experience insight to build models of best practice across the UK and that is what we now must progress to do. Government must ensure that funding for inclusive spaces meet the specific definition of ‘inclusive,’ not just accessible. We must deliver play spaces which meet the needs of ALL children.”

Press Release

Charities and industry call for action to improve play opportunities for disabled children

Leading UK Charities and industry bodies call on UK councils to create accessible and inclusive child play spaces. The joint statement, launched today, addresses the need to uphold every child’s right and need to play.

Including Disabled Children in Play Provision, a joint statement from the Children’s Play Policy Forum and UK Play Safety Forum, states that society has failed in producing enough accessible and inclusive places for children to play within a reasonable distance of their homes. It makes clear that

  • a positive, solution-focused attitude is essential to include disabled children
  • it is possible to make adaptations to increase accessibility and remove barriers to participation by engaging with and prioritising the needs of disabled children and their families,
  • there is an urgent need to change public attitudes
  • more welcoming spaces must be created which maximise the range of play opportunities offered by the equipment and the environment.

The statement also calls for consistent use of the terms accessible and inclusive play.

Tim Gill, Chair, Chair UK Play Safety Forum said:

“Just like any child, all disabled children need and want to play. But for decades, they have been left poorly served. This statement makes a powerful case for change, while acknowledging the challenges. Perhaps most importantly, it sets out a clear vision for new and improved play spaces that will engage children of all abilities.”

Nicola Butler Chair Children’s Play Policy Forum added:

“This statement will help build a better understanding of the barriers which keep many disabled children and their families excluded from local play spaces. Overcoming these barriers will bring benefits for non-disabled children too, as they learn through their interactions and engagement with disabled friends and peers.”    

Mark Hardy Chairman Association of Play Industries (API) stated:

“API members have always strived to provide play facilities that offer an accessible local attraction, which engenders ownership from the entire community and provides a lasting legacy. We are delighted to have supported and contributed to this latest guidance to give greater clarity on the different priorities for ‘Accessible’ and ‘Inclusive’ play spaces.”

In Scotland, Children’s Minister Clare Haughey said:

“The Scottish Government’s ambition is for Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up – a nation that values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people, regardless of background or circumstance. 

“Inclusion and accessibility are at the core of the national principles underpinning our £60 million investment in renewing play parks across Scotland. So, too, is listening to children and young people’s views about how they can be supported through play to be active, healthy and happy.

“I welcome this statement on inclusive and accessible play which supports everyone involved in providing play spaces and environments to ensure they can be enjoyed by all children and families.”

PlayBoard Northern Ireland CEO, Jacqueline O’Loughlin said:

“We know from our own research that families who have a child with a physical, learning, sensory, medical, undiagnosed or complex need continue to be excluded from play parks and travel long distances to access a play park that meets their family’s needs. All children and young people have the right to play in their local communities and interact with their peers. This statement aims to help those involved in play spaces and playgrounds such as local authorities and housing associations make their facilities more accessible and inclusive.”

Play England’s Chair of Trustees, Anita Grant said: 

It has been an excellent opportunity in being part of creating this statement to really explore what will make the difference for disabled children and their families in relation to accessing high quality play experiences that encompass the freedom, agency, risk and challenge that all children have the right to.

I hope this statement will open and support the discussion on real inclusion and increased accessibility for all children in all parks and open spaces.


The UK Play Safety Forum and Children’s Play Policy Forum commissioned the joint statement Including Disabled Children in Play Provision.

A small group, which included a lived-experience representative, led the development of the statement – Marguerite Hunter Blair, Anita Grant, Alan Herron, Alix Crawford, Marianne Mannello, Andy Yates – supported by a group of Sector experts and the input of the Forums at consultation phase.

Current position

The UK Play Safety Forum and Children’s Play Policy Forum agree that all playgrounds and spaces should meet the accessible definition, to meet the needs of as many children, of as many varying abilities, as possible. And that the strategic provision of truly inclusive spaces at well-chosen destination sites is essential, to meet the needs of ALL children. 

Key actions from the statement

  1.  A positive and solution-focused attitude is critical
    to creating inclusive play space design, based on understanding and prioritising the needs of disabled children and making adaptations to include them.
  2. Children and their families want play spaces which include the range of features and facilities they need.
  3. Play spaces should offer a balance of high to low challenge opportunities and a good mix of play features.
  4. All children deserve to be able to enjoy play spaces
    that work well for them and their families within
    a reasonable distance of their home.
  5. All play spaces should be developed through community participation, co-design, and co-production.

Who statement is aimed at

·         Local authorities and play providers

·         Parents, families and community groups

·         Landscape architects

·         Equipment providers

Link to Statement: Including Disabled Children in Play Provision

Link to Appendix:  Appendix Including Disabled Children in Play Provision

Media Release – 3 March 2022

Inclusive play park study reports families facing exclusion from play parks

Fifty-seven percent of families who have a child with a physical, learning, sensory, medical, undiagnosed or complex need are unable to play in play parks as often as they would like, with a similar amount (56%) having to travel long distances to access a play park that meets their family’s need. That’s the findings from a report published by PlayBoard NI and the Mae Murray Foundation following research carried out with families in Northern Ireland. 

The Let me play – Inclusive play park study aims to inform policy makers and those involved in play park development about the lived experience of families regarding outdoor play experiences within fixed play parks.

The research involved focus groups, one-to-one sessions and an online survey, with findings grouped across six thematic areas which have been identified as contributing to the exclusion of some families from play parks in Northern Ireland.

  • Getting to the play park – the infrastructure surrounding the play park is important such as appropriately placed drop-kerbs and accessible public transport.
  • Play park site facilities – facilities which meet the needs of all users are fundamental to inclusion. 49% indicated that in order to use a play park they required a disability friendly toilet, to Changing Places standard. 30% identified insufficient or inappropriate parking provision.
  • Access to play – improvements have not been sufficient to provide high quality participative play opportunities for all. Equipment and activities need to be provided for different ages and abilities and should be able to be accessed in a range of different ways. 
  • Participation in play – whilst progress has been made, innovation in design to offer participants choice to actively engage in a range of rich and challenging play experiences is required.
  • Communication – effective communication regarding play parks is paramount including what play opportunities and facilities are available, accessible signage, and opening and closing times.
  • Attitudes – many respondents reported encountering poor attitudes from other users whilst using play parks. Proactive, cross-sectoral working which celebrates diversity and tackles negative attitudes is key.

Launching the report, Alan Herron, PlayBoard’s Director of Service Delivery and Development said:

“PlayBoard has been working closely with the Mae Murray Foundation for the past number of years and we are pleased to share this important report on inclusive play parks. Let me play clearly highlights that despite the creation of new fixed play spaces, families who have a child with a physical, learning, sensory, medical, undiagnosed or complex need continue to be excluded from play parks in Northern Ireland. Play park provision must evolve for people of all abilities to enjoy their right to play. This study offers play space providers an insight into the experiences of families affected, with a number of key recommendations.”

Alix Crawford, Mae Murray Foundation Chairperson added:

“I am thrilled we are launching the Let me play study with PlayBoard. No one should be excluded from taking part, having fun and making friends, in outdoor play parks. It is shocking that families today are still facing the exclusion my own family faced some 20 years ago and we simply must address these man-made barriers.

“I would like to thank and pay tribute to the 500 families who contributed to the study, sharing their lived-experiences. When the people experiencing the barriers first-hand are involved, solutions can be found. I believe their contributions are the catalyst for change and look forward to building on the study findings with further work to implement true inclusion in our outdoor play spaces in Northern Ireland.”

Positive next steps suggested by the report are:

  • Play park providers to engage with families with lived experience and fully involve them throughout the play park design process to co-produce workable solutions.
  • Play park providers to make use of the Let me play study findings to influence play park design.
  • Leading play organisations and other interested parties agree universal terminology and definitions in relation to fixed play parks and spaces within the UK.
  • Development of guidance to support play park and play space providers to build inclusive play parks and spaces.

The importance of ensuring that children of all abilities are able to access physical activity opportunities was recently highlighted by the UK Chief Medical Officers who published a physical activity guide for disabled children and young people. The need for further progress on the issue was also reinforced by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which noted that children with disabilities across the UK continue to face barriers in the enjoyment of those rights guaranteed by the Convention, including in the right to access to health services, leisure and play.

Read Let me play – Inclusive play park study at

PlayBoard and the Mae Murray Foundation acknowledge the support of the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) in developing this research.


For more information contact Maria McBride, Senior Marketing & Communication Officer, PlayBoard NI – T: 074 2345 6190 / 028 9080 3380 or E: or contact Alix Crawford, Chairperson, Mae Murray Foundation – T: 079 0027 8780.

Notes to Editor

About PlayBoard Northern Ireland
PlayBoard NI is the lead organisation for the development and promotion of children and young people’s play in Northern Ireland. Play is fundamental to a healthy, happy childhood and PlayBoard is committed to supporting children and young people’s play through a combination of service delivery and development, campaigning and lobbying, research, evaluation and awareness raising, and promoting best practice in play and playwork.

About Mae Murray Foundation
The Mae Murray Foundation was established to allow people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world, and enjoy friendship together in an inclusive environment.

The Foundation recognises one another to be of equal and inseparable value, regardless of physical or learning ability; medical or undiagnosed condition; age or caring role.

The charity’s work includes delivering a range of innovative all-ability projects for different age groups, as well as designing and implementing permanent solutions in everyday environments to break down unnecessary barriers to participation.

Early Years Powered Mobility

Moving around independently aids play, development and self esteem. Mae Murray Foundation facilitate clinics in Northern Ireland for both Bugzi and Wizzybug Loan Schemes – loaning powered chairs to young children from 18 months old. Acceptance onto the scheme is subject to assessment by the loan scheme provider. For some more information on the available schemes, click on the links below to see the two different options available. Contact us if you wish to apply.

Resource Library!

The Resource Library is a free resource for all members. You may want to borrow equipment for a range of reasons:

To trial expensive equipment that you are considering purchasing to ensure it is right for you.
To borrow equipment for a specific need, for example to help you with travel on a holiday.
To get active and enjoy outdoor spaces.
To have move opportunities to play and learn new skills.
In order to avail of this service, you must be able to collect and return the equipment to our office in Larne. You must also agree to the terms and conditions of use – these can be viewed on the Resource Library Request and Consent form below.

This service is volunteer led and therefore it may take a little longer for us to get back to you, please allow 7 days. If you have an urgent request, contact our office on 03006001166.

If there is an item we do not have, that you would like to borrow, please email with your suggestion (additional equipment is subject to funding and meeting the criteria for this project).

For more information, and to see what equipment is available, click on the link below:

Online Drama Workshops -Register NOW!

Who for? Young people aged 6-13
When? 5.30pm every Tuesday
Where? At home! These sessions will take place on Zoom.
How do I get involved? Simply click on the link below to register your interest for the sessions. You will then receive a link to join the sessions – this link will be the same each week.

Music Workshops -Register NOW!

Who for? All ages and abilities
When? 6-7pm every Monday – starting on 6 January.
Where? Online – we will send you a link to join in via Zoom – this link is the same each week.
How do I get involved? Simply click on the link below to register your interest for the sessions. You will then receive a link to join the sessions – this link will be the same each week.

Resource Library

Do you have any equipment that you no longer require,that is in good condition, that someone else could benefit from? This can include trikes, wheelchairs, adapted seating or toys. PM us if you have something you would like to donate to our Resource Library!
For some examples of items already in the Resource Library- click on the link below.
Please note that any equipment accepted for donation will go through an assessment and servicing process to ensure it can be certified as ‘fit for use’ Any equipment donations that do not ultimately meet certification standard can be returned to donor or disposed of upon request.…/resource-library/


Monday 28th February

Face to Face Music Workshop – 6-6.45pm

Online Music Workshop: 6.45-7.30pm

Registration essential.. The link will be sent to all who have registered to take part online

Tuesday 1st March

Drama Workshop – 5.30-6 pm
Registration essential – . This is an online event and you will receive a link by text message and email.

Wednesday 2nd March

5-6pm: Arts and Craft (FULLY BOOKED)
7pm: Teens Chatty sessions
8pm: Overs Chatty sessions

Registration essential. To register, contact Laura via email:

Emergency Essentials Funding

BBC Children in Need Emergency Essentials Programme aims to provide grant items that meet a child’s (under 18) most basic needs or are critical to their wellbeing. All applications must be made through a registered organisation and we are delighted to be registered to make applications on behalf of you, our members.

– Experiencing a crisis or emergency and do not have access to support or have sufficient resources to meet child’s needs
– Child must be under 18
– Must be a UK resident

The programme awards grants for critical household items, for example:
– Cooker
– Fridge, freezer
– Washing machine / tumble dryer
– Children’s bed/bedding
– Kitchen Equipment
– Furniture
– Clothing
– Baby equipment

Please note – this programme does not provide disability equipment.

For more details, click on the link below for all of the details on this programme. If you wish for us to apply on your behalf, please email Kyleigh on: