The value of volunteering at vPUK

One of the most exciting opportunities available so far, as a first year student, has been the chance to be a volunteer at the Physiotherapy UK conference.

Francesca Peplow was in the first-year of her MSc at St Mary’s University when she volunteered at vPUK 2020 and wrote this reflection.

Francesca Peplow
Francesca Peplow

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the CSP's Physiotherapy UK conference moved completely online for the first time. A new computer-generated environment allowed delegates to virtually walk around and interact with other attendees in a way that closely mirrored a physical conference.

The conference created a forum for physiotherapists to share their experiences, including their essential contributions to the NHS within the Covid-19 crisis, and undertake valuable CPD. One part of the conference I found particularly useful was the virtual poster hall as I was, at the time, creating my first research poster for an assignment at St Mary’s. This gave me the chance to ask some of the researchers about their work and has given me lots of ideas about how to approach a poster in an inventive manner. 

One of the reasons I am so passionate about utilising the virtual environment is the accessibility it offers for those who are not able to attend face-to-face events. During November [2020], I was shielding, due to the pandemic, and attending my lectures online whilst we are in the second lockdown. Completing my studies whilst shielding made me acutely aware of the new challenges of working online and how we can advance our use of telehealth appointments. In fact, I am looking at research about telehealth to use in my poster assignment. I am particularly grateful to the St Mary’s team, who have been incredibly supportive in allowing me to continue to attend lectures online and interact, as normally as possible, with other students and my lecturers.

Francesca at vPUK
Francesca in her avatar form

Volunteering at the conference 

My role as a volunteer, within the greeting team, included helping delegates navigate their way around the new virtual space and troubleshoot any technical issues.

Volunteering at virtual Physiotherapy UK 2020 allowed me to better understand the critical work of the CSP and how to get involved

I plan to share my positive experience of volunteering with other people on my course at St Mary’s and increase awareness about the CSP's resources and opportunities available for students.  In the future, as part of my development, I aspire to train as a CSP steward, advising and representing colleagues who experience difficulties at work.

Apply to volunteer at the UK's biggest virtual conference of the year, vPUK, on 5 or 6 November 2021. In exchange for a half-day of volunteering, student members will receive free entry to the rest of the conference, access to world-class CPD and networking , plus a certificate of volunteering.

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