Tag Archives: Merlin’s Entertainment

Update from Merlin’s Magic Wand & the NAS

24 Nov
An attempt at a discrimination graphic.

Image via Wikipedia

I thought given my recent post regarding the Merlin’s magical wand charity and the possible discrimination against children on the autism spectrum, I should share with you all the latest developments

Today Merlin’s Magic Wand Have made a statement on there facebook page. I visited the page only to discover that all comments have been removed and this has been left in there place.

In the light of recent conversations on this site and elsewhere we wanted to clarify the objective of Merlin’s Magic Wand – which is very simple. We know that there are many children facing difficulties of all kinds – illness, disability or social issues – who would benefit greatly from a day at one of our attractions, when they can just have fun with friends and family, and get away from everyday concerns. The aim of Merlin’s Magic Wand, through the provision of tickets and grants, is to offer this opportunity to families who might not otherwise be able to visit us.Unfortunately our resources are not unlimited. As more people have become aware of the work of Merlin’s Magic Wand, and the number of individual applications has grown, we need to explore new ways of managing these. We believe that in the future the best way to reach the maximum number of different children will be for us to increasingly work in tandem with specialist organisations – charities, support groups and educational and social services departments – who have direct access to those who would benefit most, and the communications channels to spread the word. More than this, given our aim must always be to give as many children as possible a magical day out, rather than the same children an annual outing – we also believe that working with partner organisations will better ensure this. Finally such partnerships will leave our small dedicated team more time to develop our activities into new areas – taking the magic out to those children who will never be well enough to come to us. We make no apologies for this. That said nothing will change until we have alternative arrangements in place and ALL eligible children should continue to apply through our websitewww.merlinsmagicwand.org, where full details are available.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to anyone who was confused by some recent communications, or who interpreted them as in any way discriminating against children with autistic spectrum disorders. That was certainly not our intention. The National Autistic Society is undoubtedly one organisation with whom we are in discussions, but with the express aim of making these tickets more widely available and certainly NOT to limit access for those with autism or any other issue. We would also like to reassure anybody that might be concerned that if children are fortunate enough to be allocated tickets as part of the Merlin’s Magic Wand scheme there is, and never will be, any charge for these.

We have taken very seriously all of the comments posted over the last couple of days relating to this subject, and we hope that this statement will reassure you all. If anyone still has concerns however please feel free to contact us direct offline on mmw.enquiries@merlinentertainments.biz.

Furthermore the National Autistic Society have also left this update on it’s facebook wall.

National Autistic Society

Hi all,

We’re aware some people have had questions about our involvement with the charity Merlin’s Magic Wand. We hope this will address those concerns.

Children with all disabilities, including those with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, can apply directly to Merlin’s Magic Wand for free tickets to Merlins’ 25 top UK family attractions.

The NAS is currently only exploring ways in which we can help Merlin’s Magic Wand reach more families who have children with autism.

The announcement by Merlin’s Magic Wand of our involvement was premature and once we have finalised precisely how the NAS will be involved we will let you know.

Both the NAS and Merlin’s Magic Wand want to reassure anybody who might be concerned that there never has been, nor will there be any charge for tickets allocated through the scheme.

Applications for tickets can be made through their websitehttp://www.merlinsmagicwand.org

Hope this helps clarify things and thanks for everyone’s patience.

National Autistic Society

Image via Wikipedia

So there you have it, Merlin’s should have thought twice before sending out such an email, they do not apologise and claim they did not mean to come across as acting in a discriminating way! Sadly they did and in my view, unless Merlin’s change the application process for all applications then they will be continuing to act to do so!

Watch this space!

Merlin’s Magic Wand helping children benefit from the magic, that is unless they have autism!

23 Nov
Day 255: Magic Wand

Image by amanky via Flickr

When you have a child on the autism spectrum life is that bit harder, no matter how much you dress it up it’s not easy! We as a family have been judged and judged again, Little man has often been left to feel his not “Normal” that he doesn’t deserve the experiences that other children have, he feels this because at the tender age of 11 his been discriminated against more times than I care to remember! 

 2009/2010 my son missed out on nearly every single school trip that his then mainstream school embanked on. Why? Well, he was either conveniently excluded on them days, not given letters, or just remained in school in the hope I’d never hear about it! Disgusting I know.

 It was the most stressful time of mine and my son’s life, we had no choice but to take the discrimination route and just as the Tribunal date neared we settled the case happy that the school had finally given up the lie! I remember my son throwing his whole self into brick walls and scratching his arms till they bleed when the head teacher called late in the evening to inform me my son was excluded the following day and would therefore miss the one trip he had so looked forward to for months! My child was labelled a liability and a health and safety risk.  

 Thank goodness for charities like Merlin’s magic wand, the charity that creates magic for disadvantaged children, especially those with a disability and young carers like my daughter. 

 He missed all his school trips but at least come the summer holidays we would have our trip to Chessington World of Adventures to look forward to! The Merlin’s entertainment group really were creating magic for children like mine. 

 Little man didn’t feel so different as he raced around one of Merlin’s attractions, smiling from ear to ear. 

 As a parent of a child who benefits from such an awesome charity I did my bit to donate and even considered over coming my fear of heights  by embarking on a sponsored skydive next year to raise some funds in the name of this awesome charity & the NAS.

 Lately I’ve been running some competitions here on the blog to win tickets to a number of Merlin’s attractions, It’s basiclly a sponsored competition isn’t it! However unlike many other companies and brands do, Merlin’s didn’t offer any compensation to the blogger, after all it’s free advertising to the brand and many bloggers spend time writing and checking each entry before drawing the winner. Many of the other bloggers I know refused to do this, they just don’t have the time to run a competition and the fact their isn’t really a thank you for doing so added to this (after all this wouldn’t happen in newspaper or magazine).

 Nonetheless, I didn’t vacillate when it came to such competitions and was happy to help, after all look how Merlin’s have helped my child and millions more like him on the autism spectrum. This was me giving them something back alongside my readers! So, why not!

 Yesterday I visited my Facebook page (A boy with Asperger’s) only to discover something that hurt and angered me!

 This is what I read…

 Dear Merlin’s Magic Wand Applicants,

 For those of you wishing to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for 2012, there has been a change in the way that Merlin’s Magic Wand will manage applications in 2012, for those families whose children are on the Autistic Spectrum or who have any Autistic related disability.

 This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.

 Our Charity has very limited resources and funds and unfortunately we are no longer in a position to be able to manage these applications as efficiently as we wish. Therefore we have had to put in the following process in order for us to continue to work with families of Autistic children.

 Applications from individual families will no longer be accepted. You will need to contact your local National Autistic Society Branch (NAS) in order for them to apply for tickets on your behalf. If you are not a member of your local NAS, you will need to contact any other organisation that you are a member of (incl Special Needs School) that specifically handles children on the Autistic Spectrum. They will be able to submit an application on behalf of all their members.

 The NAS are aware of this new procedure and the regional offices will be asked to contact the families on their books to see if they wish to take advantage of our attractions complimentary tickets.

 We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, however, this change needs to be made so that we can help as many children as possible and for us to continue our promise of giving children magical experiences.

 Thank you

 Hilary Birkinshaw Charity Manager

 Nicky Elliott Applications Manager

 The Merlin Magic Wand Charity

3 MarketClose/Poole/Dorset/UK/BH15 1NQ 

Fax: +44 (0)1202 667867

 This was posted on the wall by one of the admins I have appointed on the page.

 I read this three times and was utterly disappointed to learn that basically Merlin’s our heroes were kicking us in the teeth just like so many have and will continue to when you’re a family that consist of a child with autism.

 From reading this a number of times I am in no doubt that this is yet another act of discrimination against our children! How can it be interpreted any other way when it quite clearly reads, 

“This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.”

 Before going on to state that they will no longer accept applications from families of children with ASD directly and this must now be done via NAS or through application from a special school!

 As mentioned I fought a discrimination case and we come out the other side smiling, I’ve helped a number of families who also have children with autism who feel they are being discriminated against. 

It’s even harder when a group of children are being  singled out and treated differently than children with other types of disability especially when it is being done by a children’s charity!

Above Little man enjoying a trip to Chessington world of Adventures thanks to Merlin’s Magic Wand in 2010

Here is Merlin’s promise which I’ve taken from the Merlin’s Magic Wand Website

Magical and memorable experiences

Unfortunately, many children, through circumstances which are not of their own making, are not in a position to be able to experience many of the things that most children take for granted, including trips to theme parks and attractions. 

This may be through difficulties in the home, or maybe because they have to care for a sick parent or relative. Sadly, sometimes children suffer abuse or have serious health problems which prevent them from having a normal life. 

We hope that by making available magical and memorable experiences, at one of Merlin Group’s many and varied attractions, Merlin’s Magic Wand Children’s Charity can bring some pleasure and improvement to the lives of some of those children.

 I do wonder if Merlin’s are fully aware of the laws surrounding disability discrimination. Surly the big guys at Merlin’s run this decision past it’s legal team?

 Here’s something they should have read…

 Service providers are not allowed to discriminate unlawfully when providing goods or services to people. Discrimination when providing services means:  

  • refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service, offering a service on different terms than you would to other people.

 So, yet again, because you can’t see autism it makes our children less worthy of a smile?

 Has Merlin’s ever considered the fact the reason the applications sent from families of children on the autism spectrum is so high is because there are a massive number of children with autism that actually benefit from this type of help? Autism is more common now than ever yet the misunderstanding and judgemental crap is still smacking them in the face with crap such as this!

 Merlin’s what were you thinking?

 From what I understand Merlin’s Magic Wand is a charity for disadvantaged children and that’s not only those with disabilities! Example… A single Parent can apply for help from Merlin’s simply stating how disadvantaged their children are simply because she is so broke, Merlin’s will then make the decision whether to issue the tickets or not!

 The point I’m making is, our children should be allowed to enjoy the things that children are meant to enjoy without having to fight tooth and nail to do so. 

The fact that Merlin’s are stating it is only the families of children with autism who need to take this new route of action is discriminating and god dam flagitious. Our children didn’t ask to be born with autism and we as parents spend much time and energy trying to install self-confidence into our child with autism or aspergers syndrome. I tell my son he is no different from other children, he just has some extra special ways, yet his not silly he knows that the world is a harder place to live in when you have a “Label” such as his! Its imperative that children on the autism spectrum don’t get left on the sideline, but receive the same opportunities as others their age.

 Not every family of a child on the spectrum are members of the NAS and sadly this may shock you Merlin’s but do you know how hard it is to get your child into a special school? Your changes will not affect my application as my son goes to a special school but only after one hell of a battle, one that almost killed me! Now your asking parents of children like mine who haven’t been as fortunate as me to win the battle with the education system, to battle  your application process. Yes, sadly I find this barbaric and have trouble understanding how you think your actions are even justifiable? 

 Merlin’s are not saying this to the parent of a child in a wheel chair, just to the parent of a child with autism… Why? Because you can’t see autism just from looking at the child, there is no physical disability so our children are sadly pushed aside.

 I ask would Merlin’s state this about a child’s race or religion? I don’t think so!

 They have more and less stated that they hope by taking such action the application number will fall and they can help more worthy children to have fun.

 Will, I be sharing this with my 11-year-old son? No, I don’t want him to feel rejected not by a charity that he is thankful to, not to one that he trust, I wont do that.

 Since making the discovery I have visited the Merlin’s magic wand Facebook page which has a wall full of comments from parents, advocates and adults on the spectrum. Sadly I have not read any statement given from Merlin’s. I await such a statement, I would of course like to hear why? and hear it from them!

 I didn’t receive the email about the changes, I don’t know why, maybe I will in the next few days, they obviously have a number of parents to upset given they have stated that half its applicants are families of children with autism. 

 I will finish the current competition I have running solely because I have opened it and it wouldn’t be fair on those who have entered to suddenly remove it, however, I won’t be running another competition on their behalf simply because I’m not just a mother who writes a blog I’m a mother to a child on the autism spectrum who writes a blog and it would seem that right now Merlin’s couldn’t give a flying f*** about that!

So, there you have it, Merlin’s Magic wand are bringing smiles to the faces of children all over the world, that is unless they have autism!

Please leave a comment and share your views, especially if your child or loved one will be affected by the changes. Like I always say, in order to raise a subject and get heard we need to spread the word, so lets do it!

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