Epilepsy South Africa works with many beneficiaries and vulnerable groups who, in addition to living with epilepsy, face multiple challenges ranging from mild to profound intellectual disability, Down Syndrome, hydrocephalus, and speech impairments to physical and psychiatric disabilities such as schizophrenia. We are vigilant about monitoring and evaluation of every service through an annual process where real impact is evaluated and new needs arising are assessed. This enables us to continuously transform our services to incorporate and address the current needs and challenges of South Africans within the sphere of vulnerable groups.
A. Social and Health Care Programme
Epilepsy South Africa, the organisation as a whole, offers high quality social and health care for people living with epilepsy and other vulnerable groups. These expert support services are empowering more and more people to live independently and enjoy rich and fulfilling lives. Our specialist interventions include:
Individual, group and family counselling and psycho-social support services.
Medical and residential care services for those with severe epilepsy and associated learning and/or physical disabilities.
Mobile Neurology Clinics – availing health and social care services to deep rural communities, incorporating education and awareness programmes and needs assessments for further service programme development (these services are currently only available in the South Cape, Karoo and Eastern Cape regions)
Home-based care services provided by volunteers for beneficiaries who, in addition to having epilepsy, are living with HIV, TB and other health challenges (This service is currently offered only in the Free State).
Day care services for disabled youth and adults rendered vulnerable by their disability as well as impoverished circumstances. Beneficiaries are transported to Epilepsy South Africa centres on week days where they receive a meal and two snacks and participate fully in all the activities of a residential centre or protective workshop. In addition to the much needed stimulation and care provided to these disabled youth and adults, this intervention offers family respite and allows family members to continue working
Child and youth development services incorporating life and social skills training
Information services and an online helpline which offers online counselling as well as a much-needed referral service.
B. National Economic Development and -Empowerment Programme
With a core focus to create opportunities for gainful employment and economic empowerment, this programme follows a strategy to empower vulnerable groups in South africa to become financially independent.
Income generation projects which are geared towards providing both social and economic development opportunities (These initiatives include food gardens, weaving and rug making projects and a very successful hydroponics farming project)
Protective employment workshops which provide stimulation and training to develop employment as well as social skills and offer beneficiaries real earning potential within a caring and safe environment;
Entrepreneurial training (Start and Improve Your Own Business training) and entrepreneurial development to empower vulnerable people to start and maintain their own sustainable business ventures. Support is also provided to entrepreneurs to develop co-ops for joint ventures;
SMME training and development – training and support for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises employing people from vulnerable groups, epilepsy and other disabilities.
As a specifically vulnerable group, women are becoming a strong focus of our empowerment programmes and services. The expectation of care-giver has developed into an almost forced position of responsibility for financial stability/sustainability, community leaders and rights activists. We are therefore especially proud of the launch of our Women’s Entrepreneurial Development programme in October 2010. This programme focuses on the entrepreneurship training of women, especially those with disabilities, and forms part of our empowerment initiatives. For more information on our economic development and entrepreneurship training programmes, please phone the National Office at 021 595 4900.
C. Awareness, Lobbying and Advocacy Initiatives
Epilepsy South Africa’s lobbying and advocacy initiatives are geared towards upholding and advocating for the rights of people living with epilepsy and other disabilities. Our aim is to positively influence national policy and legislation as this impact on vulnerable groups in South Africa. We also host advocacy training for people with epilepsy and disability, empowering them to become self-advocates.
Awareness and outreach programmes focus on educating communities and raising awareness of vulnerable people in various forms, causes, services available to these people, managing stigma and discrimination as well as combating negative attitudes and myths.
This initiative, which utilises celebrities to speak out about vulnerability, has been designed to decrease and ultimately eradicate discrimination against vulnerable groups as a result of a lack of knowledge within society. The aim is to work towards creating widespread awareness within communities who then come to realise that vulnerable persons have the same rights to inclusion as anyone else. This approach based on human rights is the mindset that Epilepsy South Africa aspires to attain.