Being a member of the Council of Management carries certain duties, responsibilities and obligations that you need to be aware of. You should be confident and comfortable about accepting and carrying out these commitments before you decide to stand for election. Being a Council member can also bring you immense personal satisfaction and the opportunity to influence the lives of people with epilepsy.
What is Epilepsy Action (British Epilepsy Association)?
British Epilepsy Association (BEA) is a registered charity and a private company limited by guarantee. It was founded in 1950 as a direct response to the problems facing people living with epilepsy. During its lifetime it has been responsible for many major improvements, but there is still much to be done. In 2002, BEA adopted the ‘working name’ Epilepsy Action. This is the name that most people are now familiar with. However, the charity and the company still keep the official name of British Epilepsy Association.
Epilepsy Action is the leading organisation for epilepsy in the UK because of the number of people it has contact with, because of its unique services and because it is the only UK-wide membership organisation for people with an interest in the condition.
What is the Council of Management?
Epilepsy Action is a charity made up of individual members. Every year the members elect people to be the trustees of the charity. The trustees are the people who look after the charity. They decide its long term plans and watch over what the charity does on behalf of all the members. The trustees are very important to the charity. The name we give to all the trustees together is the ‘Council of Management’, or just ‘Council’ for short. The name we give to individual trustees is ‘Council member’. Since the Association is a limited company, Council members are also company directors.
Who are the Council members?
The Council is made up of a maximum of 16 elected members of the Association. A term of office normally lasts three years. People can be re-elected to serve further three year terms.
Council members come from all kinds of backgrounds and have a wide variety of experience. Some are people with epilepsy themselves, some are carers, some are health or education professionals, some are volunteers for the charity and some are local branch or group members. The one thing they all have in common is a desire and a commitment to serve Epilepsy Action.
Please contact the Chief Executive if you would like to be put you in touch personally with an existing Council member who can tell you first-hand about what it’s like to be a Council member.
Can I stand for election to the Council?
There are four conditions that you have to satisfy in order to be nominated to stand for election to the Council.
- You must be aged 18 years or older.
- You must not be legally disqualified from being allowed to be a company director or a charity trustee.
- You must not be incapable by reason of mental disorder, illness or injury of managing and administering your own affairs.
- You must have been a member of the Association for at least 12 months at the date when nominations for the election close.
How does Council work?
Council acts as a single body. Decisions are made on a majority view. Individual Council members are bound by the concept of collective responsibility. Please note that the business of Council meetings is confidential to the Council.
The Council meets six times a year usually in February, April, May, July, October and December. Meetings are held on a Tuesday at the charity’s head office in Yeadon, just outside Leeds. Meetings usually start at 10.00am and finish by 2.30pm with a break for lunch. You will need to set aside at least one day and possibly two days for a meeting, depending on how far you have to travel. You should aim to try and attend as many meetings as possible.
The Council sets up special committees to help it in various areas. There are currently three Council committees. They are: - the Finance and Strategic Policy committee, the Standing committee and the Corporate Governance committee. Committee meetings can be held before or after Council meetings but most often they are held on different days. They are usually held at the charity’s head office in Yeadon.
Every year there is a one day training event for Council members which you should try and attend. This is usually held on the day following the October Council meeting.
How much time will it take?
As well as the time taken to travel to and attend Council meetings, (at least 6 days a year), time is also required to prepare for them - reading papers, looking at accounts and considering reports. You might also want to serve on a committee. The more active you are the more time is required.
Council members are also routinely invited to attend functions and events for Epilepsy Action. These can include conferences, branch or group meetings, social events, fundraising events and public relations events.
Will it cost me anything?
Council members are all volunteers. No one gets paid for being a Council member. However, you can claim reasonable expenses for attending Council meetings and all other relevant functions of the charity in your capacity as a Council member. If you require a carer to attend with you, their costs are also covered. The charity also provides every Council member with personal liability insurance to cover their role as a trustee.
If you are elected as a Council member you will receive a comprehensive induction. This covers things like representing the charity, handling the media and charity trustee and company director liability.
The next step…
If you want to stand for election to the Council you should first of all make sure you meet the four conditions mentioned earlier. If you do, then you need to be nominated by two other subscribing members of the Association. Don’t worry if you don’t know two other members. We have a panel of people we can put you in touch with. Just let the Chief Executive know if you would like to use this panel.
To stand for election all you have to do is fill in the nomination form – it will automatically go straight to the Chief Executive at Epilepsy Action. You have to sign the form to show you are willing to be nominated. The details of the two members supporting your nomination should also be on the form, if you know them.
If you would rather, you can download the form, fill it in later and email it or post it to the charity’s head office at New Anstey House.
The Chief Executive will be in touch with you to request any further information that might be needed, such as a short personal history for your election address. The election itself is by secret ballot of the members of the Association at the Annual General Meeting. You will be told the result as soon as possible after that meeting.
Please feel free to contact the Chief Executive, Philip Lee, at any time if you have any other queries.
Telephone: 0113 210 8800
Address: New Anstey House, Gate Way Drive, Yeadon, Leeds LS19 7XY