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    72% of Brits think more awareness is needed on challenges for disabled people

    New research commissioned by McCain and Family Fund, a charity providing grants for essential items for families raising disabled and seriously ill children, reveals that 56 per cent of adults are not related to someone disabled or disabled themselves, with 77 per cent of those rarely or never interacting with anyone who is disabled.

    Meanwhile, only 12 per cent of families supported by Family Fund are able to take part in all the social activities they’d like to and leaving 83 per cent of families feeling sad, left out and frustrated.

    With two thirds of Brits (64 per cent) admitting they have little to no understanding of the day-to-day life of people who are disabled, 72 per cent strongly believe that more awareness is needed on what life is like for disabled people including the daily challenges they face, and 48 per cent would like to boost their own confidence around spending time with disabled people.

    And when they do interact with someone disabled, over half (57 per cent) are afraid of saying the wrong thing while 44 per cent feel self-conscious of their behaviour.

    McCain and Family Fund, the UK’s largest grant-making charity for families raising disabled or seriously ill children, have joined forces with comedian and Last Leg presenter Alex Brooker to raise better public awareness of the daily challenges families with a disabled or seriously ill child face on a day to day basis, and to promote inclusive social occasions. McCain is donating £1m to Family Fund to support the charity’s goal of providing 150,000 essential grants and services to the families they support.

    As part of this campaign, 2,500 limited-edition scoop bowls are now available to order free-of-charge from the McCain website. The bowl features a playful design – a feature often overlooked when producing adapted products, an anti-slip suction base and a raised, curved side to help children eat independently, whether they’re having meals inside or outside of the home.

    “This bowl is something I wished I had growing up; it’s a great design and I think it will really help children feel more independent at mealtimes and give parents confidence to socialize more at social occasions,” said Presenter and comedian Alex Brooker who has experience of the challenges faced at mealtimes by children with a disability.

    Research also revealed that two thirds (64 per cent) believe that October half term is a particularly difficult time for families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, who could be less likely to be invited to social occasions like playdates and meals at friends’ houses.

    A third of respondents (31 per cent) were also parents, and three in 10 have children who have a disabled friend. Of these, 74 per cent would feel confident hosting a disabled child at their home for a playdate or an event, however, 23 per cent would be nervous having them over for dinner, with 38 per cent not thinking they’re equipped to host a mealtime.

    Three quarters of parents and carers supported by Family Fund felt that friends and family avoid inviting their child along to social occasions because they don’t know how to act around them. Moreover, 67 per cent of these respondents said they had experienced friends and family being embarrassed to ask about any possible adaptations required so that their disabled or seriously ill child could attend an event. However, 63 per cent per cent of Family Fund’s families reported that asking about their child’s needs and preferences in advance would alleviate any need for concern ahead of a social occasion.

    Families supported by charity Family Fund give their advice on how people can make get-togethers more inclusive:

    1. Don’t be afraid to ask families with disabled or seriously ill children over for meet-ups. Think inclusive, wherever possible, so no one is left out. Playdates can be just as important for parents- to reduce loneliness and isolation.
    2. Don’t worry about asking families questions about a child’s disability or condition and any adaptations we need, including what foods kids will eat, as diets can be restrictive.
    3. Talk with your kids about the fact that a disabled or seriously ill child might eat with their hands, need adaptions to eat or eat different types of food – the greater the awareness in other children, the more it prevents families feeling embarrassed or stared at, at get-togethers.
    4. Running through what will happen at get-togethers and what food you’re planning, in advance with families, means they can prepare children and don’t need to be embarrassed about asking questions whilst there.
    5. Be aware of individual sensory needs and think about the physical layout and safety of a party or playdate. Creating a quiet area or den, with low lighting and music, means children can take a break, within social gatherings, or eat meals in a separate space.

    Mark Hodge, Vice President, Marketing at McCain Foods UK&I said: “Mealtimes are a crucial moment for friends and family to come together. This new data offers an important insight into why families raising a disabled or seriously ill child can feel excluded from such social occasions due to a lack of awareness of their child’s needs, or embarrassment to ask for support for these needs. At McCain, we want to make everyday meals more inclusive for everyone, so we’re delighted to have created this specially designed scoop bowl to ensure that families can better enjoy mealtimes together.

    Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said, “Families raising a disabled or seriously ill child experience many barriers to participating in activities and events, due to the daily routines and equipment children need, continuous high costs and a lack of affordable inclusive opportunities. Creating inclusive mealtime moments in communities, and being aware of the challenges families face, can make a big difference to people’s lives- with Alex shining a spotlight on this. Thanks to McCain we are now providing even more essential mealtime grants to families who need them most.”

    The launch of the scoop bowl celebrates McCain and Family Fund’s partnership and the national charity’s 50th year. To date, Family Fund has delivered over 1.5 million grants and services to families on a low income raising disabled or seriously ill children since 1973, with more people than ever before now coming to the charity for support. McCain is a proud partner to Family Fund and continues to support their overarching goal of providing essential grants and services to 150,000 families. And, as times are even tougher right now, McCain has doubled their donation this year to offer extra support.

    For more information on the continued partnership please visit: https://www.mccainfamilyfund.co.uk/.

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