I feel privileged to present to you my third annual report. This accompanies the year-end accounts for 2015 and the trustees’ annual report on the work of Epilepsy Action during 2015. Council members, your elected trustees, make up the voluntary governing body of your charity. They are responsible for the short and long term strategic direction of the Association, its good governance and the future financial stability of the charity. As trustees they are accountable to the regulatory bodies such as the Charity Commission.
I thank my trustee colleagues for their confidence in reelecting me as chair for the third consecutive year. To them I express my gratitude for their support and collaborative work commitment to their elected responsibilities. In June 2015 Council members said farewell and expressed their thanks to colleague Ron Rosenhead for his five years of devoted service. At the same time, Council welcomed on board Dr Jim Morrow who has brought with him an established record of working in the world of epilepsy as a consultant neurologist.
The charity’s financial position is outlined in the report by our Honorary Treasurer, June Massey. But it is worth noting that in our daily lives we are constantly reminded that the global financial position remains a challenging dilemma. Notably, individuals have less money available to give to charity, and cuts in national and local organisations’ budgets result in cuts or withdrawals of public services and benefits. Consequently there is now a greater demand on the work and services provided by many charities.
2015 led us into the fourth year of our five year strategic plan. I am pleased to report that we continue to provide our unique front line services and make progress in addressing what people have told us are their two most pressing fundamental issues of need. Namely: improved access to specialist health care and treatment and that they can lead their lives free of stigma, prejudice and discrimination.
In 2012, the first year of our current strategic plan, we directly helped just over one million people. In 2015 we directly helped over 1.4 million people. Your charity continues to reach more and more people to increase their knowledge about epilepsy, raising awareness about epilepsy and educating people about their epilepsy. Epilepsy Action continues to be the only epilepsy organisation which holds the NHS Information Standard. This means people worldwide can trust our materials to be accurate. We have provided epilepsy training to nurses, care homes, schools, employers and other organisations. We have provided advice and support to 123 NHS commissioners and providers of local health and social care including a toolkit endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Our well received 2015 Seize Control campaign set out to encourage people to be more active and influential in the management of their condition. We have represented the authentic voice of epilepsy in seeking to influence laws, regulations, policies and guidelines to improve the lives of people with epilepsy. We have provided background material and briefing papers to Westminster MPs for epilepsy debates, for the All Party Parliamentary Group, and for presentations to Welsh Assembly members. We have organised our first ever parliamentary event in the Isle of Man and held meetings with Northern Ireland Ministers, the Public Health Agency and Health and Care Trusts. Our achievements last year are covered in more detail in our 2015 impact report.
When balanced against the economic backdrop, our high level of activities and outstanding achievements in 2015 warrant recognition and high praise for those who are our greatest asset, namely our dedicated and incredible staff and our amazing cross section of volunteers. As I come to the end of my three year term of office, I wish to place on record my immense gratitude for the hard work and innovative thinking of Philip Lee - Chief Executive; the Deputy Chief Executive Simon Wigglesworth; Judith Davies Executive Secretary; the entire senior management team and all the staff who contribute so much.
On behalf of your trustees I acknowledge with gratitude the loyal and dedicated support of President Baroness Ford of Cunninghame, all of our Vice-Presidents, advisors, members, donors, fundraisers, supporters and all volunteers in whatever capacity you have been able to contribute. Collectively you have made our charity what it is today – the leading authentic voice for all people affected by epilepsy. In my travels out and about, I have felt overwhelmed and touched by incredible and inspiring individuals and families with a desire to contribute their all, regardless of their own health or other personal circumstances.
No one else provides what we do, but importantly, we know that hundreds of thousands of people rely on us to improve their own lives and the lives of everyone else affected by epilepsy. This is a challenge that cannot be solved alone. Epilepsy Action brings people together and it is together that we can be stronger and more successful.
2016 is the final year in our current strategic plan. A consultation process involving our stakeholder groups will determine the next five year strategic direction and our work priorities up to 2021. I wish my successor a worthy and successful term in office.
Chair, Council of Management
10 May 2016