This week is Volunteers Week and we are sharing some stories of people who volunteer for Epilepsy Scotland.
Today board member Ross Bennet shares how he became involved with Epilepsy Scotland and what he has gained from volunteering.
How did you become involved with Epilepsy Scotland?
The doctor gave me a leaflet and I phoned Epilepsy Scotland to get information for my family and information based around driving.
I had recently been diagnosed and I knew nothing about epilepsy and no one in my family or close friends had it and obviously your life has changed.
Epilepsy Scotland became a lifeline for me and we developed a close relationship with the staff, which really helped.
Why did you decide to volunteer and be a part of Epilepsy Scotland’s board?
To begin with I thought Epilepsy Scotland have been beyond good to me and was thinking how I could repay them.
I ran a couple of half marathons and raised about £10,000. When I turned 40, I didn’t ask for any birthday presents, I just asked for money for Epilepsy Scotland. It was things like that to begin with.
I had done a few things at work and been lucky to be promoted as a police officer. I saw a request on LinkedIn looking for board members and I thought I might have a lot to offer here.
It’s a case of paying back what has been given to you. Richard Roberts was the chair at that point and he met with me and asked a few questions. He took my answers to the board and I was then accepted, for which I am grateful.
It is not an understatement to say that Epilepsy Scotland has been a life saver for me. In terms of guidance to families and more importantly guidance on mental health and wellbeing.
A lot of people with epilepsy suffer from a lack of confidence, doubt themselves and think they are not as good as others.
In terms of the Board of Trustees, I thought I could bring something such as my project management experience and experience managing staff etc.
But also, the experience of having the condition and to give a patient perspective to the board, which I think has been welcomed. From my perspective, it has been a good thing.
How long have you been a volunteer with Epilepsy Scotland?
About two and half years. The last time it was about a year and half as I couldn’t drive and it became a bit problematic.
I was asked to consider to stay on the board. But I just felt I wasn’t doing anyone justice here. It was one of those periods where your confidence dips and you think you are not really good enough.
I am more mature now, so if and when that happens it’s more of a temporary thing.
Anyone who has the condition and says it doesn’t really happen to them, they are a lucky person and I am not sure they are completely understanding of that side of epilepsy.
I applied to be a part of the board again because I felt I had a lot to offer and have no intention of going anywhere as long as people want me.
I have been lucky enough through Epilepsy Scotland to speak at the Scottish Parliament and the House of Lords about having epilepsy and I always try to be positive. Just because you have epilepsy doesn’t mean you can’t be employed.
It’s got the stigma and if you ask one thing that I really want to push during my time on the board, it is to remove that stigma and help people with epilepsy gain employment.
What do you think you’ve gained from volunteering with Epilepsy Scotland?
From a personal point of view a bit of satisfaction. I’ve tried to do the right thing through raising money.
It’s to give back, as I know I am lucky and I need to earn that luck by putting back into the organisation that has helped me and my family.
What would you say to someone who is looking to be a volunteer for Epilepsy Scotland?
I would say that you can be absolutely assured that the voluntary work will be appreciated and will go to good use and you feel part of the team.
You can have some self-satisfaction, pride and self-worth. You also get the knowledge that you are not only helping the charity itself but also what the charity does to help people with epilepsy in Scotland.
If you are interested in volunteering, please email Linzi Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 427 4911.