Co Antrim charity is making waves with the publication of their Inclusive Beach Guide!
Member enjoying launch event at Portrush East Strand
A County Antrim charity is making waves with the publication of their Inclusive Beach guide – ADAPT my Beach.
Larne based Mae Murray Foundation has spearheaded the design and implementation of Inclusive Beaches in Northern Ireland, and now their learning will be shared with others across the UK, Ireland, and beyond.
Alix Crawford, founder of the charity, explains:
“We’ve been receiving an increasing number of calls over the last few years, from both UK and Ireland based beach operators, but also some from further afield, asking about our experiences of setting up and sustaining ourinclusive beach model. As we now have five years of learning behind us, we felt this was a good time to share our knowledge, which in turn helps progress our vision of building inclusive societies.”
Mae Murray Foundation staff and volunteers
Prior to the Foundation’s work in 2017 with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, people of all ages with mobility or sensory needs were excluded from beach environments here. But thanks to the charity’s partnership work, thousands of people can now enjoy access and participation at five beaches in Northern Ireland.
At an Inclusive Beach visitors will be confident that they can have a stress-free arrival with appropriate parking or drop-off points and dignified toileting facilities that include hoisting facilities and other equipment. Visitors will enjoy accessible connectivity across the beach site and can benefit from the loan of beach mobility equipment and inclusive activities.
Looking around an Inclusive Beach you will see people of all ages and abilities taking part together. From beach cleaning to surfing, school trips to community festivals, diversity will be visible.
Mae Murray Foundation CEO and Chairperson with Queens University Belfast staff (who supported this launch event)
The ADAPT my Beach guide has been funded by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast.
Funding Manager at Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Will Steadman, said:
“People with disabilities in the UK face challenges using beaches as many beach operators do not fully understand the complex needs of people with disabilities, the barriers to access, and the equipment need to use beaches safely. Mae Murray Foundation’s ADAPT my Beach guide is much needed and a fantastic resource for the sector, which we were very happy to support. Their partnership model is innovative and has been tested extensively through lived experience, which adds to the guide’s strength.”
Members from Larne Adult Centre having fun at the launch
Prof. Ruth Hunter, Professor of Public Health and Planetary Health at Queen’s University Belfast added:
“We know from our research that blue spaces, such as seas and beaches, are really important for better health and wellbeing. Making these spaces inclusive ensures that more people, of all abilities, can experience their benefits. We feel very privileged to work with Mae Murray Foundation to help shape the future of Inclusive Beaches. The ADAPT my Beach guide is an invaluable tool that will support the development of inclusive beaches across Northern Ireland and beyond.”
The launch of the guide took place at Portrush East Strand t earlier this week, where guests enjoyed a range of activities to celebrate. From beach mobility equipment trials and sit surfing displays to drumming workshops and feeding alpacas – there was something for everyone!