This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Scottish charities merge to expand support services

This news post is over 6 years old

The Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network (SPAEN) is merging with iConnectNE

Two Scottish charities who help people with long-term conditions and impairments have joined forces.

Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network (SPAEN) is merging with iConnectNE.

The merged charity will continue to provide support services in Aberdeen and the north, and under the iConnect brand will also feature as the new charity further develops in other parts of Scotland.

The new structure and local delivery model will ensure that all projects and programmes continue to be user led and bring together a national framework for employing personal assistants. The charity will retain a local approach to supporting individuals in active participation in their communities.

SPAEN is a proven success story, providing more than 800 members with assistance and self-directed support and the establishment of services which provide expert back-up to people in managing their own care budget and employing their own personal assistant.

Andy Higgins, 46, is one of those who has been helped by SPAEN. In 2003, he suffered a brain stem stroke which left him with locked-in syndrome. Andy had been an engineer on an accelerated career path, was married with a two-year old daughter and despite needing constant care and having to accept life in a wheelchair - he was determined that his family was not going to burdened by his disability.

He said: "My brain was unaffected. I live independently, I employ my own care staff and despite being told by the authorities that I was not expected to work I wanted to work. I have completed Open University studies, I control my own life, I have served as a Board member of SPAEN and I now work with them. I can work, I want to work and contribute to society and to be paid in line with my skills, not my disability."

The merged charity will be headed by Colin Millar, who has served as chief executive of SPAEN. He will be supported by Liv Cockburn as regional director for Scotland north and the Islands, Janie Ryan, regional director central and south Scotland, and Tom Ross, director of membership.

Millar believes that the merger is strongly in the interests of both parties and will enable to the organisation to streamline and improve its services to its members.

He said: "The merger will allow us to deliver and expand localised supports and initiatives backed up by national expertise in areas such as Direct Payments. We know that it is that combination of local approaches and national best practice that makes real, quantifiable difference to the lives of the people we both seek to support, not only in terms of people having more control over their daily lives but also, as we have now found, to their overall well-being across the whole of Scotland and the Isles."