From January 2011, Epilepsy Action will be working under the name Epilepsy Action Cymru and Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland in Wales and Northern Ireland. These are not separate charities, just identities designed to describe, identify and represent our work in the two countries. We hope that this move will help us raise our profile in the two countries to improve our campaigning work, promote our services and attract new members and supporters.
Why have you set up Epilepsy Action Cymru and Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland?
Since 1999 more and more political power and authority has been passed down from the United Kingdom to the separate countries of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is commonly known as devolution. What has actually been devolved varies from country to country. But devolution means that there is now more local decision making. This means that the different countries of the UK now develop and implement different policies in several areas that are critical to Epilepsy Action’s work. These areas include health, social care, welfare, education and charity regulation. Devolution has also stimulated a greater sense of national identity within the countries of the United Kingdom.
Organisations like Epilepsy Action that want to operate right across the United Kingdom must take more account of the differences. One way we can do this is by using different working names in different countries. That is why we have created Epilepsy Action Cymru and Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland.
So what exactly is Epilepsy Action Cymru and Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland?
They are working names and identities created to describe, identify and represent our work in Wales and in Northern Ireland. They are extensions of Epilepsy Action which is our main working name and identity.
Why is there no Epilepsy Action Scotland or Epilepsy Action England?
Our work in Scotland and England will continue to be carried out under the name Epilepsy Action. In England we are already well known and recognised as Epilepsy Action and there is no need to create something new. Epilepsy Action offers a range of services and support for people with epilepsy in Scotland but the level of our work there at the moment does not need a separate identity.
Are Epilepsy Action Cymru and Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland new charities?
No. These are not separate charities and they have no formal status. They do not exist as organisations. They are simply working names and identities created to describe, identify and represent our work in Wales and in Northern Ireland.
Will everything you do in Wales and Northern Ireland be done under the new names?
No. Some of our services and activities will continue to be delivered on a UK-wide basis because that is the best way to provide them. For example, there will still be just one Epilepsy Helpline with one number throughout the UK.
Are you splitting up your services in the United Kingdom?
No. The services and activities already based in Wales and Northern Ireland will naturally become identified with the new names. But we will continue to provide UK-wide services across all four countries.
What sort of things will stay UK-wide?
Many of our fundraising events are UK-wide and this will continue, for example National Doodle Day, the Wonga Walks and National Tea Break.
Some of our awareness-raising work is UK-wide, for example National Epilepsy Week.
Some of our services are UK-wide, for example the Epilepsy Helpline and our website.
Will there be special representation on the Council of Management for people from Wales and Northern Ireland?
No. At the moment any member of the charity from anywhere in the United Kingdom can stand for election to the Council of Management. That will continue unchanged. At present there are people on the Council from each of the four countries of the UK.
We have set up a National Advisory Council in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. These will inform and guide what we do in these countries helping us to ensure that our work and our services reflect the needs of people with epilepsy in those countries. The members of these new Councils are all appointed by Epilepsy Action’s trustees, the Council of Management. The Council of Management will continue as the governing body of the charity and will continue to have the ultimate responsibility for all our work.
When will the changes start?
The two new identities will be announced and publicly launched in January 2011. Some of the changes will start right away and others will take effect during the rest of 2011.