Ms Claire Bonney
Miss Claire Bonney and the Defence Epilepsy Network (DEN).
DEN came about from Claire having met several other Defence personnel with a strong personal link with epilepsy (who responded to her initial blog on epilepsy). She noticed a real gap in the market for an epilepsy network and set about creating DEN. The network has two distinct but complimentary aims. Firstly, to connect anyone within the Defence community who either has epilepsy or has a close connection with epilepsy. DEN provides forums for these people to come together and share their experiences. Many people struggle to deal with having epilepsy: they often have anxiety and struggle to achieve within the workplace. DEN aims to break these barriers down. Through shared experiences, it helps people better deal with epilepsy and discuss coping strategies in a safe and comfortable environment with like-minded people. This is especially helpful for anyone newly diagnosed with epilepsy. It provides links to other organisations, such as the Defence Disability Network the Reasonable Adjustments Service Team and many others.
DEN’s second main aim is that of wider education and understanding. Claire has overseen the creation of two comprehensive guides for colleagues, line managers or anyone with a link to the condition: a first aid for epilepsy guide, and guidance for effective workplace adjustments for epilepsy to maximise the talent and productivity of anyone with epilepsy. She has also been the driving force behind the creation of an official MOD Defence Instruction for epilepsy. This comprehensive document explains what epilepsy is and deals with the many myths and misconceptions surrounding the condition. It aims to remove the fear and stigma associated with epilepsy and highlights where to go for help, advice and guidance both internal and external to the MOD. In addition to the online work, Claire has also attended numerous disability roadshows, engaging with others and highlighting the role and work of DEN.