Shining a spotlight on the everyday realities of life, for families across the UK raising a disabled or seriously ill child, Table Talk with Paddy and Christine is a new six-part podcast series which sees the celebrities meet families supported by Family Fund, for a virtual round-the-table chat, sharing honest and heart-warming personal stories.

Following the success of their recent documentary, about their personal experiences as a family with three autistic children, Paddy and Christine will virtually meet six families across the UK with disabled children and young people, to learn about the realities of family life, the worries and wonders they face, how they spend time together and the support they have had from Family Fund.

Each week the six-part series will meet a new family and take on a different topic, ranging from the steep extra costs associated with raising a disabled child, mealtimes, family holidays and sibling dynamics to the impact of the pandemic, communication and the heightened importance of the senses.

The podcast series launches alongside new research into family life across the UK, in a poll of 2,000 families, commissioned by McCain and Family Fund.

Table Talk with Paddy and Christine aims to provide a much-needed platform for the families that Family Fund helps.  Families polled, with a disabled child, report feeling widely underrepresented in society, with more than three quarters of parents with disabled children saying they want to see more families like theirs shown in mainstream culture.

Other key research findings:

  • Forty six per cent of parents without disabled children are not familiar with the challenges that wider families experience

  • Families raising disabled children spend, on average, an extra £66 per month on food for their household, and on average an extra £30 per month on household energy bills, compared to families without disabled children

  • Parents with disabled children agree mealtimes together are important (63 per cent). Half of these parents would like to eat more meals together as a family and half believe it helps with family communication, but it can be a challenge and take almost twice as long to get everyone together to eat

  • More than a quarter of families with disabled children say they never feel able to entertain their friends for meals at their house and dining out can be challenging, compared to parents with non-disabled children, who dine out with their family twice as much

  • For families with siblings of disabled children, three in four families (74 per cent) say their non-disabled children get to spend less quality time with them and carers. Almost half of families (47 per cent) say their non-disabled children take on caring responsibilities for their siblings

  • Whilst 77 per cent of parents with disabled children believe it’s important to have holidays and breaks as a family, they are more than twice as likely to report feeling ‘overwhelmed’, ‘stressed’ and ‘emotional’ about getting away and, during a typical year, go on half the number of UK holidays as families without disabled children

  • When it comes to day trips, families with a disabled child go on three a year, while the average family goes on five

  • A large percentage of families, 80 per cent, say that having a disabled or seriously ill child has taught them a lot as an individual and four in five do all they can to ensure their youngster has the same opportunities as other kids

The ongoing impact of the pandemic, rising financial pressures and additional ‘disability price tag’ costs mean hundreds of thousands of families are in need of urgent help. Over the past year the charity has helped over 124,000 families, but there are still an estimated half a million more UK families who could access its grants and services.

Cheryl Ward, Group Chief Executive at Family Fund, said: "Changing perceptions, and providing opportunities to talk openly about the reality of life for families on low incomes raising a disabled or seriously ill child, is urgently needed, which is why this podcast series is so important.  The commitment shown by our partners McCain, Paddy and Christine, to sharing families' personal stories, and learning more about the challenges that matter most to them, will really help to increase people's understanding. I hope it will also encourage more families to come forward for support with everyday essentials that Family Fund can provide, whilst highlighting the continued financial support needed for us to help even more families."

Mark Hodge, Marketing Director at McCain, said: “We are thrilled to be launching this podcast in partnership with Family Fund and Paddy and Christine McGuinness. As a part of our ongoing collaboration, we are hoping to raise awareness and give a voice to families with seriously ill or disabled children and showcase the importance of talking, whether that’s around the dinner table at mealtimes with the family or elsewhere. We hope Table Talk with Paddy and Christine will encourage as many people as possible to consider joining us in supporting Family Fund in any way they can.”

Paddy McGuinness said: “I’m so excited to be launching my first podcast with Christine, McCain and Family Fund. As many people have seen, myself and Christine are on a journey of learning about autism and other disabilities and listening to other families and hearing their important stories has made me realise how vital it is to properly highlight the real issues that families across the UK face.”

Christine McGuinness said: I worked with McCain and Family Fund in 2021 on its Mealtime for All campaign and the Table Talk podcast has been just as special to me. I wish there had been a similar podcast when I was growing up, so I could understand myself more and perhaps even start my diagnosis journey earlier. It’s been really inspiring to listen to the stories and hear about the everyday lives of families raising children with additional needs and how Family Fund makes a difference in their lives. We really hope people listen and get involved.”

Click here to listen to the podcast and learn more about the families involved