Aislinn Carlile volunteers for the Epilepsy Action Ballynahinch coffee and chat group in Northern Ireland. Located in a rural area, the group gives people affected by epilepsy a much-needed opportunity to meet face-to-face and find support and guidance.
Christine Bailey started attending the group, as her daughter Georgina, now 13, was diagnosed with epilepsy as a baby.
“It can be very isolating having a child with special medical needs,” she says. “But from the first meeting, I was made to feel at home. I think this atmosphere is due to Aislinn. She has a vast amount of experience as a supportive volunteer as well as a real understanding of living with epilepsy. She had total empathy with my own situation and feelings.”
Aislinn’s volunteering also sees her working alongside Clare Watson, manager for Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland. Aislinn has helped with cheque presentations, local fundraising events and information days. She is always warm and welcoming to new attendees, as Christine explains. “Little things like this that can make such a difference to people who are nervous or unsure about attending an event.”
Aislinn is helping Clare explore new ways that Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland can better connect people in rural areas. She has thrown herself into a new role being piloted of community engagement volunteer. This role sees her on the ground, urging people to display posters, spreading the word about the services of Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland, raising awareness of group and much more.
Aislinn’s dedication, together with the impact she has on all she meets, has made the coffee and chat group a success. Christine says, “Aislinn has a down-to-earth attitude and relates to others whose life, and the lives of those they love, have been touched by epilepsy. It is in no small way, because of this, that she is so easy to chat to. She is a great support to us all.” She adds, “Talking to people in the group, who have shared similar experiences, has really helped me on a personal level and made some things easier to cope with. Although the group’s common thread is epilepsy itself, it is more than just this. We’re bound together in no small part by the dedication and commitment of Aislinn as a volunteer and friend. Her work is invaluable to the group, and to Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland.”