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Why local councils need to be more like Idris Elba

AUTHOR: CLARE PELHAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE AT THE EPILEPSY SOCIETY


Why indeed? At first glance, there seems to be a yawning gap between TV actor, Idris Elba and our local councils. The star of Sunday night’s Luther has been hotly tipped as a future Bond, but I’m not aware that he is also in the running as chair of a remote parish council in Cornwall or Northumbria. So why do I wish local councils could be more like the iconic hero of stage and screen? 

idris

In July last year, Idris Elba was performing in a play at the Manchester International Festival. A young woman in the audience, Amanda, had a convulsive seizure and fell shaking to the ground.

Idris Elba stopped the performance, jumped off the stage and rushed to Amanda’s side, staying with her until the seizure had stopped and the paramedics had arrived. He made certain Amanda’s seizure didn’t turn into a crisis.  That was impressive enough.  And then once he was sure she was receiving the care she needed, he jumped back on stage and the play continued.

I don’t know whether Idris has a connection with epilepsy. But I do know that he had an instant understanding of Amanda’s seizure and the help that she needed.

Nor do I know if he will be cast as Bond.  But I do know that he is a hero to Amanda, a hero to me and a hero to all of us at the Epilepsy Society.

And I believe that local councils – and the people they represent – should be more Idris.

Epilepsy is a hidden disability and one that is generally poorly understood. And this is not surprising. For a start, unless someone is having a seizure, it is unlikely that you would know they had epilepsy and might require support.

I doubt you would look the faces in the image below and imagine that any of these happy, smiling people have epilepsy.  But every one of these vibrant, dynamic people living with seizures, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly.

group of people

You can’t see epilepsy until it happens. But let me tell you, seizures are not benign events. They can cause horrific physical injuries, memory loss, concussion. As the pictures below show.

suffer

Seizures can affect anyone, at any age, of any background or ethnicity. They don’t go away because a woman is pregnant or because it’s your first day in a new job. They show no respect for time and occasion. And sadly, sometimes, they can be fatal. More than 1,000 people die every year in the UK from epilepsy-related deaths.

There are 600,000 people in the UK with epilepsy that’s 1% of the population.  So there will likely be more than 1 person with epilepsy in every school, in every theatre, at every league football match – and several I am sure in the public seats at your ever-popular AGMs! For just over half of those with the condition, their seizures will be well controlled with medication. But that leaves 300,000 people with uncontrolled seizures.

That is why we have an ongoing campaign at the Epilepsy Society to encourage people to be more seizure savvy. And it’s not difficult. We have broken it down to three simple messages: Calm. Cushion. Call.

calm

Stay calm. Cushion the person’s head. Call for help.

Seizures can be distressing to witness but as long as you remember those three key points: calm, cushion, call, you should be able to channel your inner Idris.

You are the people who can make sure that residents in your area are trained in seizure first aid. You are the people who can make sure that our first aid poster is displayed across noticeboards,  public toilets, community centres, litter bins or in shop windows.

Or you could invest in some training that will make your parish a safe place to have a seizure. Every week we send out trainers across the country to raise awareness of epilepsy and teach seizure first aid. Our training can save lives. You only have to let us know and we will do the rest.

Find out more about the Epilepsy Society, and be the change, we want to see. Be more Idris. 

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