Creating Change within Communities

Creating Change within Communities

In addition to running our own Mae Murray Foundation activities and events, we aim to create permanent change within communities, which leads to improved quality of life for all.  Our vision to realise true inclusion within society will only succeed through working collectively with other stakeholders to break down societal, attitudinal, and environmental barriers. Together we can implement solutions which allow all abilities to participate together.

As a ‘lived experience led’ organisation, our membership dictates our strategic direction. The following work topics are ongoing, due to requests and issues raised by our membership during our planning process, and which now form part of our strategic workplan priorities. Updates on each workplan area will be shared as available.


Inclusive Play

‘Why can every child not take part in outdoor play environments within their communities?’

This question, which our chairperson was asking as a new mum herself back in 2000, sadly remains relevant. Many families across Northern Ireland are being excluded from this key learning and social experience.

During 2018, Mae Murray Foundation began exploring how best to tackle this important issue, from a solution-based perspective. We connected with Playboard, an independent charity and the lead organisation for the development and promotion of children and young people’s play in Northern Ireland. PlayBoard’s vision of ‘a society where the right to play is realised’ aligns well with our own vision. We were delighted when Playboard wholeheartedly welcomed the opportunity to merge expertise and lived experience, for the benefit of children and their families.

Together, we agreed that to drive long-term change, several strands of work would be needed:

1.    Publish evidence of family experiences of exclusion, within a NI context, that will be immediately helpful and useful to play space developers.

2.    Engage with leading authorities on play and key stakeholders, across the UK. Debate any topics and issues which may create conflict, or which lead to barriers to realising the right and need to play of every child. Drive the production of a statement which provides clear, unified direction on these issues to policy makers and other stakeholders.

3.     Produce Inclusive Play ‘design and build’ guidance.

Stage 1

The first stage in this work commenced in Spring of 2019. Development of a study to evidence unmet need in outdoor fixed play environments was undertaken. 500 families contributed from across Northern Ireland, with a variety of differing and multiple needs. The purpose of this study is to inform policy makers and those involved in play space development about the lived experience of families. We are delighted to now publish the Let Me Play study and associated press release.

A podcast which explains how the study came about and explores the key finding themes can be accessed here.

Copies can also be downloaded below:

2022 Let Me Play study

2022 Let Me Play Study Poster

Stage 2

Mae Murray Foundation are absolutely delighted to welcome this statement from the Children’s Play Policy Forum and the UK Play Safety Forum. The voices of our children and their families is the key evidence underpinning this landmark statement by leading UK charities and industry bodies on the topic of inclusive play.

We have been striving to represent the voices of excluded children and families, and to create high-level systemic change, that will deliver a network of quality play experiences for ALL children. This strong statement clearly says 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.

A full copy of the statement can be found here.

A copy of the appendix (case studies) can be found here.

The full press release can be found on our news page by clicking here.

Stage 3

In line with our next strand of work in this process, Mae Murray Foundation and Playboard will be producing Inclusive Play ‘design and build’ guidance.