We are very proud of our history. We have been there for anyone affected by epilepsy in Scotland, supporting them and giving them a voice for over 60 years now.
We came into existence on 1 November, when the Scottish Epilepsy Association had its inaugural meeting at the City Chambers in Glasgow. Our first offices were opened at 24 St Vincent Place in Glasgow not only for administrative purposes, but also to provide an information and advisory centre for people with epilepsy and their carers.
We set up a new branch in Edinburgh.
We opened a workshop providing employment opportunities for six women repairing post office switchboards.
Between 1958 and 1962 we expanded to Dundee and set up various social clubs for people with epilepsy. We also opened a hostel in partnership with the Church of Scotland providing residential places for people with epilepsy, the first of its kind in Scotland.
The Association’s headquarters moved to Govan Road, Glasgow. A Medical Advisory Panel was set up with specialists in epileptology, neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and other related fields. We also opened a new library at Govan Road, thanks to the very generous donations from the Commonwealth Fund of the Trades House, Glasgow.
The branch and group network continued to grow under the stewardship of Vivien Cairnie. Vivien’s enthusiasm and empathy for people with epilepsy was recognised by members throughout Scotland. Her passion and drive saw the start of Resource Centres being set up and the employment of the first Field Worker. Grampian was the first Resource Centre to be opened at Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen. The front of the premises became a craft shop stocking Scottish made goods and the rear and downstairs became the office and drop in centre. The project expanded to include a Youth Group and a crèche.
We moved to a different office at Govan Road in Glasgow, as the original buildings had to be demolished to make way for the Glasgow Garden Festival. These are the premises at 48 Govan Road where we still are today.
During the 1990s we hosted a major European conference at the SECC in Glasgow attracting over 1700 delegates from across the world; we purchased Bloom House in Livingston Village to meet the demand for further services. Towards the end of the 1990s major changes occurred to our Day Centre in Glasgow. This saw us move towards social inclusion working with Glasgow City Council to provide a new model of support for adults with epilepsy and learning difficulties based in the community.
We launched our Freephone helpline service 0808 800 2200 with the help of former Hibs footballer Alen Orman. We are proud of our free helpline service which has helped thousands of people to this date.
The last two decades have been incredibly challenging for us, like for so many other charities, due to the economic climate. With increasing demand on our services and less available income, we had to make some difficult decisions to survive as a charity, and in 2018 we sadly had to close our paid for support services in Glasgow, Helensburgh and Edinburgh.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. We have since secured various sources of funding, allowing us not only to bounce back but to flourish, introducing new and expanding some of our existing services to meet the ever-increasing demands for support.
Our Welfare Rights Service which was set up this year now has two dedicated full-time Welfare Rights Officers providing much needed help with benefits applications and appeals. A year-long pilot project for our Wellbeing service helping those who struggle with anxiety and social isolation due to their epilepsy has now been expanded to a three-year service thanks to further funding received from the National Lottery Community Fund Scotland.
We have expanded our policy team, which allows us to increase our engagement with key stakeholders, work with policy and law makers across Scotland and campaign on behalf of the 55,000 people affected by epilepsy in Scotland. We have also created a new post of Communications Officer who is helping to raise awareness of epilepsy, reaching out to anyone affected by epilepsy via social media, as well as raising the profile of our charity and the services we provide. We are planning to be a lot more visible and accessible, taking our information and support on tour across the country with our information events.
During the 1980s, after going through constitutional changes, we changed our name to The Epilepsy Association of Scotland. During this time, we were incredibly honoured to have so many eminent Scots such as Rikki Fulton, Jimmy Reid, Arthur Montford and Donald Dewar highlight the work we did, as well as helping with information events and lending their support during National Epilepsy Week.
We are busy future proofing our charity to ensure we will be around for many more years to come. Uncertain times lie ahead but we continue to focus on developing new services, some of which are already in the pipeline subject to funding. To keep up to date on the services we offer, please follow us on social media or check in with us on our website from time to time. You can also get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.