MACS is here to support our members at each stage of their journey. We provide:
- Emotional support through our helpline and Facebook support group
- Financial assistance by giving our members Helping Hand grants or subsidising family holidays in our 3 caravans
- Peer support and building connections through our national and regional social events – the biggest of which is our annual Family Weekend.
- Confidence building for our children and young people by providing heavily subsidised activity holidays on both land and sea.
- Collaborating with research scientists and funding for research into MACS conditions.
Friendships and connections
Having the support and understanding from other MACS parents has, many times, stopped me from quite literally falling apart.
Research has found that 65% of families with disabled children report feeling isolated frequently or constantly (Cafamily, 2011). A survey of our members has found that MACS makes 89% of parents with children affected by MACS conditions feel less alone in difficult times, and helps 91% of them to cope with their child's condition. In workshops held in 2017, members told us that it was our annual Family Weekend which had the biggest impact, and 81% of attendees told us that they’d made lasting connections at this annual event.
The benefits of attending are greatly untold and some you do not realise until months or years down the line - it benefits our MACS child, in that he can relax and be himself, it benefits our daughter who blossoms into our caring, inspiring girl and it benefits us in that we reunite with special friends that we may only see once a year and we receive untold support through difficult times. Just a hug can tell you that someone else understands and cares
Financial support and respite breaks
We know that visually impaired children are more likely to live in homes that struggle financially (NatCen 2014). Our Giving Families a Break scheme enables families to attend subsidised respite breaks, whereas Helping Hand scheme provides financial assistance for equipment such as braillers, play equipment, and swimming lessons. 95% of recipients said the MACS grant enabled them to do something they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to do. 78% of MACS parents who used the holiday scheme said it allowed their family to go on holidays which they would otherwise be unable to afford.
MACS Caravans have been a life-saver for us. We will never be able to convey the difference they have made or thank you enough for your decency and incredible generosity. MACS is incredibly close to our hearts.
Confidence building adventure breaks
77% of disabled young people report difficulties in building friendships (Sense, 2015), and 70% of MACS parents say their child’s confidence is affected by their condition. Every year MACS provides adventure activity breaks and sailing experiences to 50 children and young adults. 93% of parents said MACS sailing and adventurous activity breaks had improved their child’s confidence and helped them build friendships.
Events and peer support
During the Covid-19 pandemic, when in-person activities were not possible, we held a variety of online events with 1,912 members attending an event in 2020.
These events have been an absolute lifesaver. They have saved me from feeling isolated during some very dark times during lockdown. Thank you so much for keeping us together as a community.
Reaching new members
MACS continues to reach new families and individuals who are yet to find our community. In 2020 we were delighted to welcome 181 new members into the MACS family, an increase of 6% from previous year. In 2021, we welcomed a further 69 families, and in 2022 we reached the fantastic milestone of 1,100 families, forming a network of over 3,000 members.
Since 2019, we have held the annual MACS Awareness Week to raise the profile of the charity and help us reach more families. In 2020, our campaign reached over 30,000 people and helped 3 new families find our community.