Media Release: Prize-winning epilepsy support by top Scottish employers

TOP employers, Argyll and Bute Council and Edinburgh’s Canongate Youth Project, will each collect a national award tonight for giving outstanding support to an employee with epilepsy.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Neil MSP, will present trophies and honour this best practice before 200 guests attending Epilepsy Scotland’s annual fundraising Glasgow Wags gala evening in the Grand Central Hotel, hosted by Radio Forth One presenter, Grant Stott.

Both organisations came first in their group by demonstrating how they go that extra mile to help someone in the workplace with epilepsy.

Argyll and Bute Council won the large employer category (more than 50 employees) for introducing a raft of practical measures to assist web developer Helen Butler in their Lochgilphead office.

This included providing a laptop for home-working part of the week, and help with travel.

Council leader, James Robb, said: “It is with great pleasure the council accepts this award for Employer of the Year from Epilepsy Scotland.

“We take the needs of all our employees into careful consideration and recognise anyone with epilepsy may need extra support. It is our priority to make sure all our employees are well looked after.”

A joint nomination by arts and crafts youth worker, Paul Scott, and Canongate Youth Project manager, Vicki Ridley, picked up the Employer of the Year award in the small employer category because the youth club had gone to great lengths to support Paul.

He commented: “The project made immediate adjustments to aid my work with young children. All the staff are trained in epilepsy awareness and I feel totally supported.”

Manager, Vicki Ridley, remarked: “It’s brilliant to win this award as we enjoy making sure people with different backgrounds and abilities find work here.  It’s good for the children to have access to the experiences of people with disabilities like epilepsy.”

Health Secretary, Alex Neil, said: “The Scottish Government is fully committed to helping people live well with long term conditions like epilepsy and we’re proud to have endorsed these awards since their inception in 2008.

“Everyone in Scotland deserves the chance to fulfil their full potential, without being held back by discrimination or stigma. An important part of that is to be able to pursue success and flourish in your chosen career, whatever that may be.”

While each of the five shortlisted nominations was commended by the judging panel, Sainsbury’s in Kirkintilloch was highly commended for introducing a buddy system to help its employees with epilepsy.

This year’s panellists comprised director, Allan Dickson with Go:be search recruitment specialists, Serco occupational health physician Dr Freddie Westbrook, and Epilepsy Scotland chief executive, Lesslie Young, who said: “All these examples of best epilepsy practice are easily replicable.

“We hope employers will consider adopting a similar approach within their workplace.”


Notes to editor:

* Photos and interviews:  Epilepsy Scotland’s Employer of the Year award winners, Canongate Youth Project arts and crafts worker Paul Scott and Argyll and Bute council web developer, Helen Butler, and her manager, Morag Brown, plus Sainsbury employee, Esther Johnston, and HR manager, Fiona Watson, are available for interview and photographs at the Glasgow Wags event at 6.45pm.

* Epilepsy Scotland works with people affected by epilepsy to ensure that their voice is heard. We campaign for improved healthcare, better information provision and an end to stigma. This common serious neurological condition affects one in 97 people. We represent the estimated 54,000 Scots with epilepsy, their families and carers. Our freephone Helpline (0808 800 2200) offers support and information, or try, text 07786 209501, find us on twitter @epilepsy_scot twitter or facebook or visit:

* This is the fifth Employer of the Year award for epilepsy. Previous award winners include Harry Gow Bakery (Inverness), DARE hair salon (Aberdeen), Fife Constabulary and CMM Architects (Glasgow), Russell Hamilton Business Systems (Glasgow) and the Scottish Parliament.

* There are two Employer of the Year categories; one for small organisations with up to 50 people and one for large organisations with more than 50 employees. The Scottish Government Health Department supported the initial awards. 2013 shortlisted entries include Argyll and Bute council, Canongate Youth Project (Edinburgh), RockSolid Youth Project (Dundee), Cardonald College (Glasgow) and Sainsbury’s (Kirkintilloch).

* Studies show that a person with epilepsy is twice as likely to be unemployed as someone without a disability. (‘JEC Epilepsy Taskforce: Burden of Epilepsy – a health economics perspective 1999’. People with epilepsy may take fewer seizures when employed and can have better than average work attendance rates (NSE 2002).

* Employment case studies are available and for more award details please call: Allana Parker, public affairs officer, Tel: 0141 419 1701 Mobile: 07884 012 147.

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Contact: Allana Parker
Phone: 0141 427 4911