A public building in Stoke-on-Trent will be joining forces with the iconic Blackpool Tower to raise awareness of a debilitating condition that affects more than 2,200 people in the city.
Hanley Town Hall will be turning purple on Monday, March 26 in honour of National Epilepsy Awareness Day.
Purple lights will illuminate the city centre building from 6.30pm – at the same time that Blackpool Tower is lit up.
The international ‘Purple Day’ campaign aims to increase awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On this day, people across the world are encouraged to wear purple and host events to show their support.
Epilepsy is a condition of the brain that is characterised by recurrent seizures. A seizure may take many different forms, including a blank stare, muscle spasms, uncontrolled movements, altered awareness, odd sensations, or a convulsion. In more than half of those people with epilepsy, seizures can be well controlled with medication.
Hazel Lyth cares for her 27-year-old grandson Josh, who has epilepsy.
She said: “Attitudes towards epilepsy haven’t changed much over the years – but they need to. It’s not a mental illness, it’s a brain disorder, and more needs to be done to raise awareness of it.
“Those of us whose lives are touched by epilepsy understand how challenging and socially isolating this condition can be. Epilepsy may feel like the end of the world, but it does not have to be – if we work in partnership to raise awareness and build supportive local networks.
“Young Epilepsy Staffordshire (YES) – a local volunteer group working under the umbrella of Young Epilepsy UK – has worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness and it is thanks to them that Blackpool Tower will be lit up.
“We are delighted that Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be joining the campaign by turning Hanley Town Hall purple too, and we want as many residents and businesses to get involved in supporting National Epilepsy Awareness Day.”
Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition, affecting about five to 10 per 1,000 of the population at any one time. It is routinely recorded by GPs as part of their quality and outcomes framework (QOF) registers among people aged 18 and over.
Approximately 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, with the most recent statistics for Stoke-on-Trent showing that an estimated 2,214 residents (or 1.13 per cent) aged 18 and over are living with the condition. This compares to 367,723 (or 0.8 per cent) nationally.
Councillor Ann James, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for health and social care, said: “It’s incredibly important that we do everything we can to raise awareness of this condition. A recent report by Public Health England has revealed the life expectancy for people with epilepsy was found to be eight years less than the average.
“Few types of epilepsy are preventable, but appropriate clinical management can enable most people with the condition to lead a full and productive life.
“I would encourage people to get involved with the international Purple Day campaign and turn their hearts and minds purple, in order to highlight the seriousness of epilepsy and how it affects sufferers and those who care for them.”
Journalists are invited to attend a media opportunity outside Hanley Town Hall on Monday, March 26, at 6.30pm. Hazel and Josh Lyth will be available for interviews and photographs, alongside Councillor James from the city council. It is also hoped that a representative from YES will also be present. If you are planning on attending, please let Laura Webster from the city council’s communications team know in advance.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232265.