Blog Post about CSP Empowers event by Charlotte Deller (Coventry Uni CSP Rep)

Blog Post about CSP Empowers event by Charlotte Deller

This year the CSP student Rep Development weekend was aptly named “CSP Empowers” and was held in Leeds at the Marriot Hotel. It was attended by CSP reps from across the country. Myself, Naomi Bujis, Charlotte Dodd, Sydney Cox and Josh Chacko attended on behalf of Coventry University. The event aimed to allow reps to:


  • Understand the role, responsibilities, and boundaries of being a CSP student rep
  • Understand the governance structures of the CSP and how to work within these as a student rep
  • Understand role as a CSP student rep within student empowerment.
  • Be given the skills required to be a student rep furthering student empowerment:

-Influencing Skills – Campaigning Skills – Organising Skills -Communication Skills

  • To be able to link these skills gained from being a volunteer student leader to physiotherapy values, professional behaviours, knowledge and skills.


Session 1: Being A Student Rep

During this session we were asked to discuss what makes a good CSP rep as well as what the role entails. A presentation was then given by Ciara Younge CSP student officer.

What is a Student rep?

A fundamental part of being a student rep is understanding what the role entails. For anyone that is unsure here is what the CSP says a student rep’s role should involve:

  • Representing your year group and ensure their voice (the student voice) is heard within the CSP
  • Seeking student views and opinions
  • Organising and engage students with the CSP
  • Campaign and run events
  • Give updates to your year group on upcoming CSP decisions, campaigns, elections, etc.
  • Promote yourself and your role
  • Advertise opportunities to get involved with the CSP
  • Liaise and communicate with other reps and the CSP 5
  • Attend training/seek support from CSP
  • Be an ambassador for the CSP on campus
  • Encourage students to join the CSP
  • Coordinate the elections/by-elections of new reps

What have I gained from being a student rep?

During my 2 and a half years as a rep for Coventry I have been given opportunities that I never thought I would have. When I volunteered I didn’t really know what I was getting into, all I knew was that you got a free hoodie and pizza at the meetings. The first meeting I went to was done in the dark due to a power cut, and that reflected how I felt throughout the meeting, a bit in the dark about what the CSP was and how anything we did could enhance the student physio experience. As I went to more and more meetings I became inspired to become a leader, demand changes, be a campaigner, be active on twitter and most of all empower other student to do the same. Through the role it allowed me and other reps the knowledge and support to set up Coventry’s Physiotherapy society. Now in its second year it is gaining more and more support and currently has over 60 members, I hope one day that almost all of Coventry’s’ physio students sign up and it becomes a huge part of the student experience at Coventry. The society has run numerous courses and social events, the next big event, which I hope becomes annual, is a speaker event “Pizza and Presenters” being held in March 2018, giving students a chance to learn more about other areas of healthcare and inspire them to do more. Being a rep gave me a wider appreciation of what the CSP does and how much it is under used, especially by students. I have been involved in discussions that benefit future students and impacted how the CSP is organised. I have created my own network of professionals, which I can turn to for advice, support and even jobs, as well as being given the skills I need to keep that network expanding, the secrets of which I’ve included further down the post. My only regret is not doing more, but I hope that the reps in future years will pick up where we left off, which has already started to happen. My advice to any first-year student contemplating volunteering for the role would be go for it! My advice to any 3rd year students or in fact any qualified physiotherapist would be to research and apply for the role of CSP steward in your work place, you never know what opportunities you might stumble upon with it.


Session 2: What is the CSP?

During this session Ciara presented the new structure of the CSP and how it will impact us as reps as well as our fellow students. As reps we need to be able to explain to our cohorts how the CSP is being run and explaining that in layman’s terms is difficult but we gave it a go.

So, what is the CSP?

The CSP is the UK’s professional, educational and trade union body for people working in or studying physiotherapy. It has 57,000 members and 90% of Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered physiotherapists are members of the CSP.

What does that mean as a student?

The CSP will provide you with opportunities to further your learning whilst studying as well as providing legal advice and support where needed. If you are a student member it also means you get a discounted membership when you qualify.

What does that mean when I qualify?

You must be a member of the CSP if you wish to call yourself a ‘Chartered Physiotherapist’ when you graduate (MCSP). The CSP is your professional body and trade union.

What does the CSP do?

The CSP’s corporate strategy is: Transforming, empower, influence. This looks at putting physiotherapy at the leading edge of transforming the delivery of health and social care throughout the UK. It aims to increase professional opportunities for its members and their services. They aim to fulfil the potential of physiotherapy to empower individuals and communities. As a trade union they’ll represent the interests of members at work so that: Members are rewarded with fair pay, terms and conditions and members are assisted in dealing with challenges and problems at work.

How does the CSP work?

The CSP recently underwent a huge reorganisation of the way council is structured. You can read more about it here:

The purpose of Council is to provide leadership of the physiotherapy profession and governance of the CSP. Council members are representatives of the CSP membership, elected to lead the profession. They will consider all members’ needs and work in the best interests of the profession as whole. For a simple version have a look at the picture below.


Session 3: Student Empowerment


The session led by Ciara was focused on what student empowerment is and an introduction the skills you need.

Advocacy… Action taken by an individual or group which aims to influence decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions (E.g. Government, NHS, workplace, university, patient care etc.)


  • Is about campaigning on issues that members care about
  • Is about active involvement of members in campaign activity
  • Is about building up confidence, strong network and leader within the workforce

As CSP members you can organise through:

  • Strong representation with stewards, safety reps, student reps and workplace contacts
  • Being actively engaged in the CSP
  • Becoming a leader, using your voice to champion the voice of physiotherapy and the CSP.


  • Is about creating a change
  • Is about involving as many members as possible
  • Is an organised effort which seeks to influence the decision-making process.

As CSP members you can campaign through:

  • Engaging with current CSP campaigns
  • Creating campaigns around issues that are important to your physiotherapy colleagues


  • Is the action or process of producing effect on the actions, behaviour and opinions of others
  • Is not a one-off event but a process which happened over a period of time and therefor demands a degree of patience?
  • Is essentially about developing relationships

As CSP members you can influence through:

  • Taking part in campaigns
  • Getting involved with CSP communities
  • Networking



Opportunity to be involved:

Physiotherapy UK 19-20 October 2018

Student Early Bird Ticket: £75

Student members are encouraged to submit the research done in their studies and showcase their work at the conference. Those who present at Physio UK will get their work published in the Physiotherapy Journal supplement in December. The event takes on 60 student volunteers each year as event stewards to help run the event. If you volunteer for one day, you get to attend the conference for free for the other day


Session 4: Key Note speech on Networking and Influencing

This session was one of the most interesting and thought provoking of the event. It was presented by Natalie Beswetherick OBE MBA FCSP who is Director of Practice and development at the CSP who worked in the NHS for 30 years culminating as a senior manager at Gloucestershire Hospitals.

She explained what networking was and why it is so important as well as giving her top tips for networking. As a student you want your network to be as big as possible as you come up to qualifying as it provides you with support and contacts when applying for those jobs. Here is some more information:

What is networking?

Interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

Why is networking important?

Being able to influence your patients, your clinical educator. Getting the right post for you on graduating. Career development and progression. Having your voice heard- influencing decision makers.

Networks you can join:

Student networks. Professional networks. Reginal networks. Check out frontline as regional networks often advertise free events and they are very welcoming to students.

Top tips for networking

  1. Networking is 2-way- so be generous with your time, expertise and support
  2. Think of who you want to network with and why
  3. Set aside some time every week to network
  4. In a room of people- always say hello to at least 5 strangers
  5. Take note of the person’s name, job title and organisation- it’s very easy to forget.
  6. Listen attentively and be “present”
  7. Ask for help or advice- can change the balance of power
  8. Accept invitations to social events
  9. Join a professional organisation, working group or club
  10. Keep a record of who you meet and some relevant information and use it next time you meet
  11. Remember building a relationship takes time so don’t rush.

Top Tips to increase your influence

  1. Appearance is important- how you dress shows your respect for others
  2. Be confident when you walk into a room- it has more impact
  3. Take note of people’s names then address them personally if asking a question (I know a lot of people will be guilty of forgetting someone’s name a few seconds after being introduced).
  4. Questions are a great route into any conversation- but don’t speak for the sake of it.
  5. Think about the language you use- talk about solutions rather than problems
  6. Use ‘and’ instead of but- it makes all the difference in a sentence as it has a more positive tone.
  7. Afterwards, follow up on any actions you said you would do quickly- remind them of when and where you met
  8. Take notice and learn- reflect on the impact you made with the new contact and the outcome you achieved. What went well, what not so well?

7 points for influencing

  1. Get into their heads
  2. Get out of your comfort zone
  3. Pull, don’t push
  4. Find a friend
  5. Think about style
  6. Be united
  7. You win some, you lose some

During the session we discussed how you would plan to influence different groups of people with the “Think Physio for primary care initiative. These ranged from national policy makers, Physios, GPS and purchasers. We were prompted to think what motivates that stakeholder? What would their concerns be? How might you resolve their concerns? It was a fantastic activity on such a relevant topic encouraging us to think wider about our influencing.


Session 5: Campaigning Skills



The session was led by the campaign managers at the CSP. Thinking of running a campaign? Get in touch with the corresponding manager for your region. During the session we also had the opportunity to plan our own “campaign” to save a physio service and influence healthcare decision makers that cutting physio should be out of the question.

How to run a successful campaign?

For me I found this session very interesting as I love creating campaigns but often go in all guns blazing and often the campaign isn’t as successful as I would like it to be. For example, for Workout @ Work run by the Coventry reps last year we failed to consider the best day run the campaign where we would get the most footfall of people, we ended up selecting a day where there were very little staff and students around.

So, what do you need to do?

Every campaign you run needs a detailed and flexible plan which is simply written and can be implemented in a structured way. The plan helps eliminate unproductive activities and should be shared and agreed by all those involved in organising the campaign.

Consider the following questions together with other reps involved in the planning and development of the campaign: • What are the Strengths of your campaign? • What are the Weaknesses of your campaign? • What are the Opportunities for your campaign? • What are the Threats to your campaign?

Be inclusive to all members. The more members with differences in age, roles, interests, sectors there are involved in your campaign, the richer the campaign will be.

Involve people. Listen to what members have to say and encourage them to contribute their ideas and become involved in campaign activity and small tasks. Remember to thank members for the work they do. If they feel valued and included, your campaign it will be more enjoyable, more people will become involved and it will be more effective.

  1. Timelines a) Establish a campaign calendar. b) When will you start? c) Set the pace of the campaign. d) Over how long will you develop the campaign? e) At what stages will you review and evaluate the success of the campaign?
  2. Activity a) Are surveys/phone calls/emails going to be used? b) Plan meetings, campaign events and workshops. c) Who will do what activity and for what purpose? d) What is your message? e) Set benchmarks to assess effectiveness – evaluate and review – make the decision to proceed or stop the campaign – who will decide?
  3. Resources/Budget a) Who will be involved? Ensure you have enough members involved to share the work and encourage more members to become involved as the campaign develops. b) What time is needed from members for each phase of the campaign? c) What communication methods will you use? d) Decide on printed material (letters, posters, newsletters) and other campaign resources. e) What is your budget for the campaign? How much will your materials cost? f) What other costs may be incurred? g) What venues are required for meetings/events?
  4. Potential offensive and defensive strategies a) Know our campaign’s strengths and weaknesses. b) Spell out strategy – who is assigned, who should be involved & when? c) Establish a media strategy, if needed. d) Consider the unexpected. How could it impact upon the campaign? e) How will you publicise your success to the wider membership and CSP community? f) Always ask the question ‘What else?’ so all members involved in the campaign can contribute their ideas and views at each stage.

Session 6: How can the CSP do things differently?

This session was very much aimed at improvements we as students felt the CSP needed to implement to improve its reach to students and other members. I defiantly have noticed that within my cohorts there is very much a misunderstanding of what the CSP does and what it can offer. Many of my fellow course mates often say to me “but what do they actually do?”. I have also found it hard communicating to my cohorts about topics discussed at meetings and have had very little interest or desire from students to have their say. The communication between the CSP and its members is done often through Frontline and emails but how student friendly are they? In our group we came to the decisions that well they aren’t really. Somewhere along the line of communication and messages aren’t being received in the way they were intended to be. Issues were also discussed about the inconsistency of membership sign up and how student s found it hard to navigate the website and receive the free pocket book. We brought up these issues in the feedback session. It was explained that there is a re vamp of the website taking place and every student member should get a bulletin regularly. However, we found this bulletin was poorly structured and often hard to read and find any relevant information. No one really had a solution on how to engage more student members, its one that will have to be tackled by student reps to come.

Session 7: Creating engaging communication through social media

I am a massive advocate for twitter and its professional uses. I urge anyone to create a professional twitter and most importantly use it! It can open a lot of doors, from jobs to courses to new research and guidelines.

In this session we were either team Twitter or team Instagram. We were challenged with coming up with the best way to promote and build the account. There were some fantastic ideas from “drop it like its squat” to running competitions and of course the inclusion of the physio chicken.

Best twitter accounts to follow:


I’ll also add a few more to that, that I’ve gained a lot from:

  • @CUPhysios
  • @CovUniResearch
  • @UoNPhysio University of Nottingham Physio
  • @HEFTtherapies Heart of England Foundation trust therapies
  • @nhssswft South Warwickshire NHS foundation Trust
  • @BritishPainSoc British Pain Society
  • @NUHTherapies Nottingham University hospitals
  • @Leic_Hospital Leicester’s Hospitals
  • @UHCW_Therapy University Hospital Cov and Warwick
  • @CochraneUK
  • @Menshealthphy
  • @UltimatePhysio
  • @healthphysio
  • @clinicalphysio
  • @MelroseStewart1
  • @NHSChoices
  • @ARUKnews
  • @mssocietyuk
  • @darrenabrown
  • @SallyPCovPhys
  • @ParkinsonsUK
  • @glykeria_sk
  • @Find_a_physio
  • @fimo18
  • @physicalthrp_rr
  • @docandrewmurray
  • @tolanPT
  • @JackAChew
  • @annalowephysio
  • @RockettLuke
  • @gerardgreenephy

and me of course @physio_cdeller (if you like)

What have I learnt and what will I take forward?

The weekend reassured me that physiotherapy is very much still an advancing profession at the forefront of healthcare. I learnt how to improve my networking and influencing skills to broaden not only my network but my career prospects. I learnt how to better manage and plan campaigns. I also now have a bigger appreciation for the CSP and the work they do ‘behind the scenes’. My plan from here is to organise more campaigns with my fellow reps to promote the awareness of physiotherapy in the community. Re organise Workout@ Work and make it bigger and better than last year. Put new found skills to the test by attending a regional meeting and continue to grow my presence professionally on social media. As well as all this I wanted to pass on the knowledge and resources to my cohort. Let’s just hope people read it.