National Epilepsy Week – a man on a mission to raise awareness
Birmingham City Council finance officer Kasam Parkar is a man on a mission to raise awareness of a condition that affects thousands of people in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. He explains why he is playing an active role in National Epilepsy Week.
You probably wouldn’t know it but there’s a chance you’ve passed someone today with epilepsy. Maybe you sat next someone with epilepsy on the bus or train, maybe a work colleague has epilepsy.
The fact is that epilepsy affects 54,000 people in the West Midlands – I’m one of them – and 87 people in the UK are diagnosed every day. That’s a total of 32,000 new cases each year.
So why is the condition so rarely talked about?
Epilepsy has, for decades, been identified as a large contributor to death and disability in every nation around the world. This serious and common disease is overlooked, underfunded, under diagnosed and under-treated. Sadly that has stopped individuals from talking about epilepsy, leading to a lack of public awareness.
That’s why National Epilepsy Week (May 16-21) offers the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about this most common neurological condition, characterised by unusual electrical activity in the brain, which is still very much misunderstood.
The main aim of the week is to raise awareness about epilepsy to dispel the myths, social stigmas and discrimination attached to the condition. People are considered to have less value to their community and are seen as only dependent on welfare. This view, together with a sense of vulnerability when it comes to seizures, places people with epilepsy at severe risk.
This year with the support of the Birmingham City Council I have decided to raise the awareness of Epilepsy within Birmingham.
- I appeared on Noor TV to raise the awareness on Epilepsy within the Asian Community with the help of an Epilepsy Action Manager, Epilepsy Consultant and Epilepsy Nurse.
- I contacted a Birmingham bus company, National Express West Midlands, who kindly agreed to donate poster space to national charity Epilepsy Action. The posters are part of Epilepsy Action’s Let’s Talk about Epilepsy campaign
- I arranged with numerous organisations and companies, including all the Midlands football teams, to donate prizes to raise the awareness of Epilepsy with all the funds raised going to research.
- I persuaded branches of Costa Coffee, Barclays Bank, and Sainsbury’s to put up posters, banners, and leaflets to raise the awareness of Epilepsy. Not only that, but during National Epilepsy Week the staff will also kindly raise money for the cause.
- I have taken leave to raise the awareness by selling raffle tickets in all five CAB buildings across Birmingham. I will decorate the buildings and aim to spread the word about epilepsy to as many people as possible.
- I have arranged an Epilepsy Awareness Training Day for all staff in the Council.
- The week’s events culminate in a sponsored walk at Cannon Hill Park on Saturday 21 May which will be opened by the Lord Mayor. Further attractions are set to include bouncy castle, face painting and a variety of stalls.
I’m one of over 60 million people in the world that are affected by epilepsy. That’s more than twice the amount of people that suffer from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease combined. But, despite the prevalence of epilepsy in our communities, it is a neurological disorder that continues to be widely misunderstood. I am committed to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by epilepsy, and ensuring that the requisite funding is available for the treatment and support services that people with epilepsy critically need.