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An Interview with Mae Murray Foundation

Disabled people's organisations and local disability groups are crucial to our work at AccessAble.  Working with them helps us ensure that our Access Guides contain all the information that disabled people need to get out and about. 

Who are these groups, and what do they do?  Our interview series shines a light on their vital work. 

This month we speak to the Mae Murray Foundation, about their Inclusive Beach Project. 

Tell us a bit about your organisation

The Mae Murray Foundation was set up in 2016 to allow people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world and enjoy friendship together in an inclusive environment. 

We exist to improve quality of life through participation, of all abilities, together. 

Our 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. 

One such environment is the beach.  Many people of all ages are still excluded from taking part on the beach.  Challenges may arise due to physical, learning, sensory or other need, resulting in difficulty in moving across the sand.  At our Inclusive Beaches, people can borrow adapted equipment, free of charge, to enable them to go for a walk on the beach or a swim in the sea, something we all take for granted. 

We work collaboratively with the beach operator to ensure there is an adult-sized changing bench and hoisting equipment available to Changing Places standard or similar, suitable storage for the equipment, a booking process, and staff training, as well as general maintenance of the equipment.  We supply the adapted equipment to the public through a membership scheme at various beaches, free of charge.  We organise events to complement the use of the equipment during the summer season. 

A variety of equipment is available including all-terrain wheelchairs, floating wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches, all suitable for use on the sand.  Further personal care equipment is available; a full list of equipment can be found on our website. 

Image shows a women sitting in a sand wheelchair with a man pushing them along. They are both wearing wetsuits. They are on a beach and there are people around in the background.

What is your mission?

Our aim is to improve the quality of life for all and to influence and nurture positive attitudes.  We take a holistic approach to include individual and family centered services and to benefit the public, especially those who may need additional support. 

Tell us about some of your successes 

Mae Murray Foundation has created 3 (soon to be 5) Inclusive Beaches across Northern Ireland.  This free resource has empowered over 600 people who have previously been unable to access and participate on beaches, to enjoy a family day at the beach. After all, everyone should be able to enjoy a day out at the beach! 

This project has been designed by our members who have lived experience of exclusion and has been recognised as a model of best practice.  We are delighted to have received funding, which in the next 2 years, will enable us to create guidance for beach operators to enable them to make beaches right across the United Kingdom inclusive to all. 

How many members do you have? 

We have over 1000 families as members. We are a lived experience organisation, which means all our projects are designed by members who have personal experience of the barriers to participation. 

Image of a man sitting in a wheelchair on the beach. He is smiling at the camera with his eyes closed.

How important would you say Detailed Access Information is when planning a trip or visiting a venue for the first time? 

The more information families have before traveling the better – we try and ensure we have thought of everything except the weather!! Full details of our Inclusive Beaches can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions on the Inclusive Beaches page on our website.  We provide an Induction before use of the equipment loan scheme so that users are well informed. 

How do AccessAble’s Access Guides help the disabled community in your area? 

Where they are available, the AccessAble Guides are helpful in understanding the parking, entrances, and internal structures of buildings. This helps with planning visits, easing anxiety in attending new spaces, and understanding available facilities without having to contact the space in advance.  

Finally, how can people find out more about your organisation? 

Follow us on Facebook:  @maemurrayfoundation 

Twitter: @maemurrayfdn 


Instagram: @mae_murray_foundation

Digital Marketing Manager