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08 April2014

Epilepsy Society welcomes new chief executive

Epilepsy Society has appointed a new chief executive, Angela Geer. Angela joins the country's leading epilepsy medical research charity, bringing a wealth of expertise of working with people with epilepsy, learning disabilities, autism and complex needs as well as with the elderly.

She has worked in senior and executive roles in organisations that provide health, education and social care services, including the Royal Voluntary Service, Care UK and Young Epilepsy.

'This is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in a charity which has already done a tremendous amount to raise the profile of epilepsy and support people with the condition as well as  their families, friends and carers,' said Angela.

'Epilepsy Society has really striven to push epilepsy up the political agenda and has done much to change the landscape of residential care, empowering people, where possible, to live full and independent lives in the community.

'I am really excited about taking this work forward and developing  the services we provide to make sure they are modern and relevant. I want to make a real difference to the lives of people with epilepsy.'

Working in collaboration

Angela is keen to develop the working partnerships that Epilepsy Society has already established with other epilepsy and neurological charities.

'In today's economic climate no third sector organisation can afford to work in isolation,' she stressed.  'It is vital that we work in collaboration with other charities, drawing on our individual strengths  to raise the profile of epilepsy and reach out to more people. Working in partnership will make us stronger and enable us collectively to access more  funds from the government, trusts and our generous supporters.

'I very much believe that the key to achievement is an open dialogue with our supporters, volunteers and service users. Unless we listen directly to our end users, we cannot know what they need.'

Angela's recent   work with the Royal Voluntary Service helped raise the profile of key issues for the elderly including dementia and isolation. Angela believes there are many parallels between the challenges posed by issues surrounding dementia four years ago  and the challenges faced by people with epilepsy today.

'By working alongside other charities, we  raised awareness of both issues and established a dementia strategy that has really helped to de-stigmatise the condition.

'Four years ago people with dementia were still hidden away. There was a huge amount of stigma and fear born out of ignorance. Now everyone is talking about dementia - including politicians.

Epilepsy and research

'It is 2014 and yet epilepsy is still stigmatised. We can fly to the moon and yet we still do not have a cure for epilepsy. One of the key focuses at Epilepsy Society is research into the cause, diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy . Our goal is to ensure that people have the best therapy from the moment of diagnosis so they can lead as full a life as possible. I look forward to a time that this is a reality for everyone.

'Furthermore, there are many people out there whose seizures could be controlled with the right medication and yet the system is failing them. It is about the right people talking, listening and acting. It is about education, awareness and investment.

'Often it is those who shout loudest who make a difference. I am certainly going to shout loud for epilepsy.'

Angela's diverse career has included working for the International Social Services and United Nations in Hong Kong where she was responsible for resettling or reuniting with families,  5,000 Vietnamese children  from detention centres across Hong Kong and the South China sea.

Funded by the Comic Relief's Red Nose Day appeal and Save the Children, she also worked with the government in South Africa to dismantle apartheid services.