Support Worker Reference Group: about us

Find out about the members of the SWRG: who they are, why they joined the group and what they enjoy about being part of the CSP associate membership  

Name: JC Bird
Job title: Rehabilitation assistant
Location: Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust

I believe we are part of the team who are often ‘overlooked’. There are a lot of inequalities and lack of opportunities from different trusts and health organisations around the country for support workers.

As someone planning to register as a physio, the CSP has been very helpful. The CSP's website and activities like conferences, networks and signposting to other profession-related organisations provide opportunities for a lot of learning. It has given me information about short courses and training that I may be interested in or helpful to my job and development. As a union too, it was also a source of work support when I needed it.

Name: Louise Wright
Job title: Senior technician in the community with adults with learning disabilities
Location: Aneurin Beavan University Health Board

I’ve been a CSP steward for 19 years and  I feel I have gained a diverse range of experience over the years. I would like to use my knowledge to help expand and improve the involvement of the membership within the CSP.  As a group we can highlight to the associate membership that there can be many different opportunities and roles within the CSP and the organisations they work in and hopefully empower members to explore their diverse knowledge and experience too.

I looked long and hard before I chose the CSP as the union I wished to join. The important decision factor for joining was that the CSP was a professional body as well as a trade union. I felt that the CSP would be able to understand my working role, protect my employment rights and if I ever needed support, they would be best placed to help and advise me.

The CSP offers advice, representation, making sure legal rights are enforced at work, public liability insurance cover and legal help. I have access to resources to help improve my learning and development along with other benefits such as discounts on insurance, holidays and many more.

Since being a CSP steward in my workplace, many other doors opened for me and I have never looked back.  Having a CSP mentor that believed and encouraged me to take up other roles. I felt confident to apply for the independent member role on the health board. I have been in this role for three years helping to deliver good quality health care and a more inclusive working environment for everyone.

Name: Chris Richards
Job title: Physiotherapy technical instructor
Location: Hywel Dda University Health Board at Bronglais General Hospital and Ceredigion community physiotherapy

I believe strongly in highlighting and developing the role of the support worker as we play a big part in the delivery of physiotherapy. I'm very excited to be working in this CSP volunteer role. We've had some Zoom meetings and met one another, everyone is so passionate in this group. It's truly wonderful to be a part of and I believe the SWRG will be extremely beneficial to the physiotherapy workforce.

The CSP associate membership is a great way to access resources, support and advice whenever I may need it. I thoroughly enjoy reading Frontline magazine, for the latest research, guidelines and stories of how individuals or other physiotherapy teams overcome challenges and create new innovative ways of working. I also value the ebulletin that the CSP send out on interesting topics.

Being part of the CSP I feel more connected to the whole physiotherapy workforce of the UK and really enjoy the promotion of making people stronger through exercise and physical activity and of course enabling people to get stronger and safer. I feel the CSP does a fantastic job in reaching out and supporting every single one of its members. The amount of support available is phenomenal whether it's advice from a steward or needing specific resources which could help in areas of work. Thank you CSP for all you do for your members.

Name: Paula Wheeler
Job title: Physiotherapy technical instructor
Location: Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Trust

I wanted to have the opportunity to  influence the decisions made by the CSP in relation to career progression,  training and education of associate members and also to promote the CSP and the benefits they have to offer.

I really enjoy being part of the group as it enables me to talk and meet likeminded proactive members, and gives me the opportunity to hear views and discuss topics from around the UK and not just locally. I also circulate relevant information to other associate members within my trust.

Being part of the CSP, as an associate member gives me the chance to learn from other support workers, gain access to professional advisers, meet CSP board members and attend funded conferences such as annual representatives conference and Physiotherapy UK.

I have found being part of the SWRG a rewarding role and would recommend associate members to become involved to further develop and influence future CSP corporate strategy.

Name: Alison Hamilton
Job title: Physiotherapy assistant practitioner
Location: Edinburgh Community Physiotherapy Service musculoskeletal outpatients

Support Worker Reference Group member Alison Hamilton

I had previously been a member of the CSP associate committee. I've attended several CSP meetings in London which helped develop my understanding of the CSP and how CSP members can help to influence change

Through my involvement in the associates committee I felt I could help associate members have a voice and work with the CSP to influence decisions. The experience has helped me both professionally and personally. My confidence has grown and I have a better understanding of physiotherapy issues.

Within the SWRG, I feel we can raise the associate member profile further and help influence all members into feeling they are valued and informed. 

The CSP has always made me feel I am a valued and important member of the physiotherapy profession. I feel protected and I know if I was to have any workplace issues I have the CSP's support to help deal with them. I have been to several conferences that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend. I was fortunate to attend the annual representatives conference in 2018. This is where motions are debated and voted for or against. One motion the associates put forward at ARC was titled ‘What’s in a name? This was exploring the use of the title ‘support worker’ as the committee believed this term was no longer fit for purpose. The motion was put forward for debate. Further information on ARC and its process can be found on the CSP website.

Name: Polly Hornby
Job title: Physiotherapy assistant
Location: Ysbyty Gwynedd, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Support Worker Reference Group member Polly Hornby

I have a spilt post working as a physiotherapy assistant. Nearly half of my hours are at band 3 PTA in a community hospital specialising in rehabilitation and complex discharge planning. My other post is at band 4 level and based on an acute stroke ward.

I wanted the chance to network with other associate members and improve my knowledge. I have been able to do this though having access to Frontline magazine and areas of the CSP website such as iCSP to network with others. I enjoy my associate membership because it increases my knowledge and develops ideas as well as feeling part of a team.

My associate CSP membership supports me with access to CSP reps, including their advice, support and representation with any issues I may have at work.

Name: Robert Minter
Job title: Physiotherapy assistant
Location: Hull University Teaching Hospitals at Hull Royal Infirmary

I work in the physiotherapy outpatients department in a role that I have been in for five years, during this time my title has not changed but my role has changed many times over the years especially now with the current Covid-19 pandemic.

I wanted to help increase CSP associate membership within my trust, to show how support workers can be deployed within different areas of physiotherapy and how this differs from trust to trust. I also wanted to be a voice for support workers to show what brilliant work we are capable of and try and challenge some the views and myths that have appeared over the years.

Being a CSP associate member shows that being a support worker means that I am still valued by my professional body for the work and duties I perform. I enjoy being part of the CSP;

  • to communicate with other professionals and support workers via the online networks 
  • to attend the Physiotherapy UK conferences to listen to the sessions, gain new knowledge and CPD
  • to socialise and network with other CSP members, visit the exhibitions for the newest equipment and the odd freebie!

My associate membership supports me as I am able to contact and discuss any issues with CSP advisers and have workplace representation should the need arise. I also ask questions on the iCSP networks to get answers from fellow associates and physios.

Name: Christie Devon
Job title: Therapy assistant practitioner
Location: Peterborough City Hospital

Support Worker Reference Group member Christie Devon

I’m very new to the SWRG and have only attended two virtual meetings so far. I wanted to get involved as I am passionate about the role of the support worker and wanted to assist in promoting the role and the work we do as a workforce.

I was previously a member of Unison and whilst they are a good generalised union and have helped me on a a couple of occasions in the past, the CSP has more to offer.

The CSP understands the role of a support worker and can offer more than just union advice.  I have access to various forums on the website which helps my learning and development.

It's also good to know that the CSP are keen to increase peoples’ knowledge and understanding of the support worker role. The more support workers we can get involved in the CSP, the more we can spread the word!

Name: Steve Robertson
Job title: Support worker, acute respiratory
Location: Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust

Support Worker Reference Group member Steve Robertson

The CSP associate membership has given me a sense of belonging, to an organisation that has 100 years of longstanding experience in supporting the physiotherapy workforce. Initially it was for a sense of security within my career, for representation and support if I needed it. I also enjoyed finding out about the current affairs and campaigns within our industry country wide, the training and so much more.

Belonging to the CSP also gave me an opportunity to be a voice, within my work. I felt support workers were unrecognised for the amount of work and knowledge they did and had.

There was this glass ceiling progression to a B4 only and you could not progress in the career unless you went to university and became a chartered physiotherapist. I felt this was unfair as some support workers had been doing their jobs for 15 years plus but were still at a B4 level with no pay increases or recognised status'. They were clearly showing leadership skills, workplace knowledge and values, as well as CPD within their workplace etc. This is the reason why I joined the CSP to help voice my concerns and found that others country-wide also felt the same.

I also joined a couple of groups to help the CSP campaigns, including a podcast. I wanted to be a voice for support workers in my own trust and country-wide to lift the B4 ceiling. I also helped with the campaign to develop a career path in its own right for support workers.

So the CSP has given me, apart from belonging to a recognised organisation worldwide;

  • a structured voice for the campaign of the support worker
  • support and guidance needed for such a big country-wide project to change hearts and minds.

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