DisAbility network

The DisAbility network supports CSP members with disabilities of any form to increase awareness that those with disabilities can be and are excellent physiotherapists and support workers undertaking physiotherapy duties.

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CSP member Emma Webster talks about why you should join the DisAbility network

Video transcript

Mission and objectives

Our network has three strategic aims. We strive to:

  • raise the profile of the network and CSP members with disabilities, including invisible disabilities.
  • provide role models to bring others to our profession and encourage those within.
  • be a source of information or support for our members.
  • to have a positive influence on disability rights and the identity of people with disabilities.
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Convenor: Erin

I’m a physiotherapist working in the field of oncology and palliative care, which is my passion. It’s a huge privilege to be able to help someone who is going through one of the most difficult times of their life, and to stand by them and help them to be brave in the face of it all.

I didn’t identify with the term ‘disabled’ for most of my life but as I’ve moved through different clinical areas and gained more seniority I have learnt the benefits of what I have to offer as a disabled individual. It has been a painful process to learn exactly who I am and what I need, complicated further by the poor understanding of hidden disabilities, and it continues to remain a challenge with everything I do.

I hope my involvement in the network will help shape it to be a safe space and a strong advocate for anyone who needs our help. Whether or not you identify as ‘disabled’ is up to you, but if you fit the legal definition then please come and join our community, we’d love to be alongside you!

Emma Webster, co-convenor of the DisAbility network

Convenor: Emma 

I qualified as a physiotherapist in January 2018 at Manchester Metropolitan University. Prior to this, I completed my PhD in musculoskeletal biomechanics at the University of Liverpool.

Unfortunately, I suffered a stroke in March 2018, aged 28. I have since been focused on my recovery and have enjoyed making the most of my unique perspective through volunteering to help with teaching at several universities, volunteering for the Stroke Association and joining the patient and carer group of the Greater Manchester integrated stroke delivery network. I hope to return to work in research and academia soon.

I became a co-convenor of the network at the end of 2020 hoping to challenge perceptions of disability and redefine diversity as a strength. I am passionate about the lived experiences of those who consider themselves disabled, and the promotion of non-clinical and alternative careers within the profession. The network welcomes new members warmly and wholeheartedly, so please come and join us!

Convenor: Greet 

I graduated in Belgium with a BSC Physiotherapy in 1998. I then worked in private practice for 10 years, sharpening my interest and skills in respiratory physiotherapy with children and adults, alongside neuro development. Following my move to the UK in 2008, I followed my passion in children’s physiotherapy. 

In November 2019, I had a stroke in the Medulla Oblongata, affecting my mobility and causing chronic pain in the left side of my body. After returning to children’s physiotherapy, I realised how important it is to empathise with patients and families. Particularly where neurological events changed their lives at birth or throughout their young lives. 

My hearing impairment, along with the newer disability, means that I can contribute to the quality of newly qualified physiotherapists with a different ability and to those aspiring to become a physiotherapist. Becoming a convenor with the CSP DisAbility network is helping me to make a difference to the educational, access and application experience, seeking a balance with prospective employers towards reasonable adjustments.

Get involved

We welcome new and existing members to engage in any or all of the ways which suit their wants and needs and have several channels to communicate with members, including:

  • DisAbility network iCSP forum
  • Follow the network on Twitter
  • Email the network convenors
  • DisAbility network WhatsApp group
  • DisAbility network yearly meeting
  • Join the diversity networks' yearly meeting

We maintain these network channels as safe spaces, in which we expect all members to respect and maintain others’ privacy.

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Convenor: Vikki (on maternity leave) 

I’m a paediatric physio working with children and young people, as well as their families, with conditions across the full spectrum covered by our profession and in a range of settings. I thoroughly enjoy using my creativity to assist with this and in making physiotherapy fun wherever possible – including pretending to be pirates when the need arises.

My involvement with staff networks came when I was redeployed to a role outside of our profession, following a period of sickness absence. Working with trust disability and lived experience networks helped me to rebuild my confidence and begin to look towards the future again. I then attended my first meeting of the CSP’s DisAbility network and loved the friendly and welcoming environment, the passion for progression and for our profession that I found there.

I’ve now returned to work and though this had been a tough process, being back has reminded me why I chose my speciality and re-motivated me to succeed.

I dream of a future where our working environments are there to help us to succeed, where adaptations are provided fluently and we are wholeheartedly accepted into our teams. There’s a long way to go and numerous steps along the way but we can do this together, given time, given collaboration and given voices.

Useful resources

Autism in the Workplace webinar

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