AILN are proud to be a peer-led board and to see first-hand how the work we do positively affects the lives of people who use our services.
Because our management board have personal experience of Self-directed Support (SDS), support services or have worked or volunteered in similar settings, we know how difficult and daunting it is to get the information you need about SDS.
AILN initially grew from a group of disabled people who wanted to see a change in the way that community care services were offered to people. When direct payments were first introduced in 2003 they were keen to promote this as an option for independent living.
AILN have been providing high quality SDS advice and information to the people of Ayrshire for over a decade.
Since 2005 the three Ayrshire councils have jointly funded the SDS support & information service.
AILN is a peer-led, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee with charitable status.
Remember, it can be a lot to take in at first, so don’t worry, we’re just a call away on 01294 475 685 if you prefer a chat
Margaret Geddes – chair
I joined the board of AILN in Feb 2014 having retired after a 38 year career managing social care services both within local authorities and the voluntary sector.
I am a qualified occupational therapist and my interest has always been in supporting people to maximise their independence. I have always believed this should include each person having choices and being able to take control of their own support.
I have joined AILN at an exciting time and challenging time when we all need to work together to make Self-directed Support a positive experience for everyone.
Mary Ballantyne – vice chair
Hi my name’s Mary. Fifteen years ago I broke my neck at C5/6, 2 fractures and I had a clot on the brain, one in my spine and my face wasn't a pretty sight.
I have 3 kids and 5 grandkids. My grandson Darrel has been with me since he was a baby he's 9 years old now.
I joined AILN because I liked that it was a mixture of disabled people as well as able-bodied people. I wanted to make a difference and feel valued.
I’m Gerry Lindsay and I joined the AILN Board at the end of 2014. My day job is as Managing Director of the Hansel organisation based near Symington, however my early career focused on finance after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. I can therefore bring to the Board relevant experience in both the care profession and finance. I am fully committed to AILN’s objectives and consider the Self-directed Support Act to offer important and meaningful options for individuals to take control of their supports.
I previously played a part with the management of AILN and have re-joined to support AILN as best I can with my relative experience. After sustaining a high-level spinal cord injury in 1983, which left me paralysed, I have been involved in many areas involving disability.
I am a service user employing my own PAs, which has allowed me the freedom to enjoy an active life socially and professionally. I am Chairman of the North Ayrshire Access Panel, Chairman of the Celtic Disabled Supporters Association (CDSA), which I started up with some friends. I am also a former peer support worker and Director of Spinal Injuries Scotland (SIS).
All of this would have been a struggle without access to the Independent Living Fund (ILF), Direct Payments, and subsequently Self-Directed Support (SDS). This is why it is important to support AILN and other similar organisations, as well as individual people themselves.
Following a long and enjoyable career in healthcare and management, I was unfortunately forced to retire early due to acute and then chronic illness.
Following my last lengthy hospital admission, I was confronted with the prospect of having to accept continuing care in a care home setting, which I found unacceptable and would have removed any choice from my day to day living.
I had heard of Self Directed Support and with the support of Ailn staff I have been on SDS for almost 2 years. I joined the Ailn Board mid-2018 and I am proud to be able to support Ailn by being on the Board and also by informing people of SDS to help make their SDS delivery a positive experience.
Hi, I’m Stephenie Blakey, I’m a Self-directed Support Advisor here at AILN and joined the service in January 2015. I have previous experience in working with individuals who have Learning disabilities, mental health issues and physical disabilities. I have previous experience working as a Care Service Manager and of working as part of a wider team.
Hi I’m Evelyn Gilchrist, SDS Team Leader and now recently Service Manager.
I started working in community care with Age Concern at the age of 16. I moved on from this role to work with Dementia Services, setting up mobile day-care centres.
I moved on to take a role as a Personal Assistant Team Leader with a service user on Direct Payments, and thereafter a Team Leader in a 24hr Care Team in the community.
In 2002 I enrolled in further education and studied Person-centred Approaches in Social Care at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Just prior to graduating in May 2005, I started working for AILN.
Hi, I’m Jennifer Lee, I’m a Self-directed Support Advisor with AILN. I started working here in April 2010 as p/t Payroll Administrator, trained as a Direct Payment Advisor and progressed to my current role as Self Directed Support Advisor in January 2013.
My background is mainly in admin / payroll & customer services within the hospitality industry / library services. I also trained & worked as a Classroom Assistant working alongside children with extra support needs.
I find my role as SDS Advisor very rewarding and work alongside a great team of staff!
Hi, my name is Toni Magee and I joined AILN in July 2015. My role is Payroll and Admin officer to the finance and payroll department. I deal with all office tasks such as phones, emails and clients enquiries, as well as processing payroll. I have over 20 years of experience in an administrative role.
Hello my name is Fiona Saarloos. I started with AILN in February 2016 as a payroll officer. However with the introduction of the Work Place Pensions I have since become the Pensions Co-ordinator and I am in charge of all aspects of managing client pension requirements.
Hi I am Sharon McLeod. I am the Learning and Engagement Coordinator within the Development Team. My role is to provide information support and tailored learning which assists people make informed decisions around SDS. I also deliver drop in sessions, workshops and provide SDS information sessions to colleges, organisations and groups.
Kaye McMillan **currently on maternity leave**
Hi, my name is Kaye McMillan. I joined AILN in October 2015. My role is Information and Administration Officer. I attend the monthly board meetings and assist the Board members and Development Team with any tasks they require. I am also responsible for providing administrative support and training for staff on AILN's database, maintaining AILN's social media and supporting the peer mentors.
Hello my name is Lauchlan McMillan. I started working for AILN in January 2018. I am the Finance officer/Accountancy Apprentice. My duties include processing timesheets and managing payroll for our clients. I am also in charge of reconciling the bank accounts for our East Ayrshire clients. I am currently working towards achieving my HND in accounting at South Lanarkshire College.
Hi, I’m Cheryl Muir and I’ve worked for AILN since 2013. I started off as Payroll officer and in 2015 became the Finance & Payroll Manager. I qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant too many years ago to mention, and while raising my own family I trained as a foster carer and love both careers.
Hello, my name is Victoria Shepherd-Jeffrey. I am a Self-directed Support advisor here at AILN and I joined in September 2015, I'm very excited about my new role.
I have 18 years background in administration positions and have experience of working with adults with learning disabilities. My most recent employer was CASS, an Advocacy Service for adults with learning disabilities.
Hi, my name is Claire Shepherd and I joined AILN in January 2019. I am a Self-Directed Support Adviser within the SDS team and I am also a Customer Support Officer with the Development team. I am enjoying learning my new roles from the efficient professional team already established.
My background was in Hairdressing, however I made the transition to Social Care in 2002. I have gained experience working with end of life support, learning disabilities and mental health. I worked within the private sector addictions field in Scotland and England and I have been a support worker for various companies throughout Ayrshire. I also have lived experience as a Personal Assistant with AILN. I look forward to my new journey with everyone at AILN.
Hello, my name is Shelby Murphy. I started working for AILN in September 2017 as a school work placement. Since then I have progressed to Junior Payroll Officer. My duties include processing time-sheets and managing payroll for AILN clients. I am also in charge of the reconciliation of the bank accounts for our North Ayrshire Clients. I am currently progressing towards achieving my HNC in Accounting at Ayrshire College.
Hello, my name is Catherine Swan. I joined AILN in January 2020 in my role as Payroll officer. I have over 12 years experience in the financial industry, with over 8 years experience in payroll, specifically. My duties include processing time sheets and managing payroll for AILN clients. I am also in charge of the reconciliation of the bank accounts for all North Ayrshire clients. I am currently working towards my bookkeeping qualification and I look forward to further self-development with the support of the AILN team.