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How Cerebral Palsy Africa Operates

Why was CPA set up?

After many years of living and working in Africa as a paediatric physiotherapist, Archie Hinchcliffe realised the need for children with cerebral palsy to have good therapy early in their lives. She also recognised the potential amongst African physiotherapists to meet this need if they could be given the specialist skills. After trying to persuade development agencies to take on this task and failing because "rehabilitation" is not seen as a priority she decided to set up Cerebral Palsy Africa to provide therapists and others with the knowledge and skills needed to give children with cerebral palsy the support they need.

She was helped in this by Allan Burns, whose daughter, now aged 20, has severe cerebral palsy and who was greatly helped by receiving Bobath treatment when she was young. As a result Allan raised a great deal of money to establish a Bobath Centre in Scotland where he lives. He later raised money for plastic surgery in Ghana and while he was on a visit there realised the huge need for physiotherapy for children with cerebral palsy.

Archie and Allan were put in touch with each other by the Bobath Centre in London and so the idea began to grow into a reality. CPA was established as a Scottish charity (SC036501) in April 2005.

In March 2013, following changes to the law in Scotland, Cerebral Palsy Africa became a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). The charity's aims and charitable purposes are unchanged as is its charity number: SCO36501.

How do we get started with a new programme?

First we establish links in an African country. These links may be with local organisations like a support group for families, or a professional physiotherapy body or it may just be an individual living in the country who has identified the need for expert training.

In order for us to be able to plan a programme we must have good communication with our link people. Email is best and thankfully, nowadays, even in African countries this usually works well. Then we carry out research into what services may already exist in that country.

The people who are already making efforts on the children’s behalf must be included in any future programme and they will have invaluable local knowledge to pass on.

At this stage we can start planning a course or the setting up of an APT workshop depending on what local people think is the most important and what seems most feasible.

We then start looking for funding and recruiting trainers.


Cerebral Palsy Africa cannot operate without the generosity of donors.

Please visit our donations page to see how you can support this vital work.

How do we recruit trainers?

The trainers for our 2 week elementary courses for therapists and community workers are volunteer paediatric physiotherapists from the UK. We recruit them through therapy networks and very often word of mouth.

They must be experienced paediatric therapists and it is helpful if they are Bobath trained. Before they undertake an assignment we run courses for them in cultural competence and passing on knowledge and skills and working in under resourced environments and familiarise them with our training curricula.

Those volunteers who train people on our equipment making courses are all recruited by word of mouth and trained by Jean Westmacott in the Paper Furniture Social Enterprise workshop in Medstead in Hampshire.

We always send volunteers in pairs and usually one of the two will have worked on one of our courses before.

What does a Volunteer Trainer Sign up to?

Our trainers agree to:

•Undertake teaching assignment without a fee
•attend a weekend training course before going to Africa.
•study the course material and work out a timetable that will suit the local situation.
•Use email to introduce themselves to CPA partners in country they will be visiting
•Spend 3 weeks teaching in an African country
•Write a full report for CPA

We agree to:

•Give preparation training to volunteer
•Provide course material to be used during training
•Cover all costs for preparation training, travelling to African country, insurance, vaccinations and malaria prevention, visa and in country accommodation and living costs.

"So much we hear about Africa leaves us feeling down hearted but the work of Cerebral Palsy Africa gives us hope" Chair, University of the Third Age, Eyemouth

Physiotherapist and Child


Toys in Treatment

Practical session of the course in Zambia

APT Standing Frame