An inspirational mum is speaking about the very personal reason she volunteers to encourage others to give up their spare time to help others.
Jane Riley, from Ribbleton, is a highly valued member of national charity Epilepsy Action, which supports her 24-year-old son Matthew who was diagnosed with the condition when he was 12.
As the Riley family felt they had little support at the time, Jane called the Epilepsy Action helpline and soon realised there was something she could do to help other families in her situation.
The 52-year-old said: “I really felt like I wanted to give something back and help people with epilepsy. So I applied to be an information reviewer, and then an accredited volunteer with the charity. It is the best thing I have ever done.
“When I talk to people who know about epilepsy, they start talking back and we all support each other. I got brilliant training from Epilepsy Action. Learning about epilepsy and how to educate others about it was so helpful for me.
“The more people I met who were involved with Epilepsy Action, and who were affected by epilepsy, the more I realised there was to do. We have so much further to go before all people with epilepsy get the support that they need and deserve. It was this that made me consider joining the Council of Management. I thought that my skills as a nurse and a senior manager in the NHS could be useful to the charity, and I was right.
“My time on the Council of Management has been brilliant. Epilepsy is such a big part of my family’s life because of Matthew. I think about it every day. It is great that, through my volunteering, I can turn something that has been so difficult into something positive.”
Philip Lee, chief executive at Epilepsy Action, said: “Epilepsy Action simply couldn’t do all that we do without our volunteers. They are our people on the ground, reaching out into their local communities and providing support. There are 600,000 people with epilepsy in the UK. Many of their lives have been improved because of the work of Epilepsy Action volunteers.”
Volunteers' Week (June 1 to 7) is coordinated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
To find out more visit http://www.volunteersweek.org.uk
Each year, Epilepsy Action helps more than 2m people through a range of services, including its Epilepsy Action Helpline, freephone 0808 800 5050 and support group network. Epilepsy affects around one in every 100 people in the UK and 87 people are diagnosed with the condition every day.
For information about volunteering at Epilepsy Action visit http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/volunteer or call 0113 210 8800.