Meet the team

Aaron Stevens

Aaron Stevens, Duty Manager, Palmer Park Leisure Centre, Directorate of Economic, Growth and Neighbourhood Services

I’m Aaron Stevens. I’m a Duty Manager at Palmer Park leisure centre and I’ve worked here since 2011. I started as a leisure attendant and worked my way up from lifeguard to gym instructor to Duty Manager. I’ve received quite a lot of training, like the NPLQ (National Pool Lifeguard Qualification) and training in first aid and health and safety.

There are lots of roles here at the leisure centre. You might work here if you’re interested in fitness. We have lots of classes, from fitness to services like classes for people recovering from heart conditions and strokes, to weights and spin classes. But we also have people working on reception, a marketing team and there’s a lot of administration – like doing risk assessments and banking the money at the end of the week. And we run lots of events for external groups.

I like being part of the Council’s leisure service because it feels like part of the community. You get to know the people who come in and they get to know you.

David Munday

David Munday, Public Health Consultant, Directorate of Adult Social Care and Health

I’m David Munday, and I recently joined Reading as the Council’s Public health Consultant. Being a local lad – I grew up in Woodley – it’s good to be back in an area I know and like. Reading’s ethnically diverse, it has affluent and deprived areas, there are quite a few ‘anchor’ institutions like major employers, the university, and key sports teams. It’s an interesting and vibrant place.

It’s great to be part of the Council because the direction of travel is really positive and something I want to be part of.  The Council is a good size to work in, you get to know who people are and feel like you have ownership of where the organisation is going. There’s something nimble and effective about working in a unitary authority.

Working in public health really exemplifies the TEAM Reading ethos that we have here at the Council – public health cuts across all our corporate objectives from creating clean, green spaces, to investing in better leisure provision, to writing transport strategies that deliver cleaner air and safer streets. I us to work even more with different teams and departments across the organisation to see how everyone can play a part in improving health and wellbeing for the residents in the borough.

Amy Chomiak

Amy Chomiak, Occupational Therapist, Directorate of Adult Social Care and Health

I’m Amy Chomiak and I have been working as an Occupational Therapist for Adult Social Care for 18 months. It has been a pleasure to work within Reading as it is such an interesting and diverse town. The teams are extremely supportive and knowledgeable and there are plenty of opportunities for training and growth.

My role focuses on taking a person centred approach to support people with care and support needs, to increase their safety and independence at home.  This may involve the provision of information, advice, equipment provision, and minor and major adaptations to homes to enable people to remain living at home for longer.

I work within the Advice and Wellbeing Hub which focuses on a person’s strengths to connect them to the community to achieve their goals. I have really enjoyed working within this team as the work is so varied and every day is different. It is extremely rewarding to know you have made a difference to someone’s life.

Marcia Rhodes

Marcia Rhodes, Senior Housing Occupational Therapist for Adult Social Care, Directorate of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services

I’m Marcia Rhodes, and I joined Reading Borough Council in 2017 when I spotted an advert for a brand new role as a Housing Occupational Therapist within the Housing Needs Team. The role instantly grabbed my attention because it was so varied, and had the challenges of helping to shape a new role.

My role as a Housing Occupational Therapist is to support the Housing Team by providing professional and specialist assessments that offer efficient and cost effective housing solutions for older, disabled or vulnerable Reading Borough Council tenants. I assess applicants with a wide range of medical conditions and identify how accommodation can be adapted to meet their ongoing long term needs. This can include installation of stair-lifts, ramps and level access showers or any minor adaptations such as rails.

I also visit empty properties to assist the Housing Officer to write a description to advertise properties on Homechoice Lettings, confirm mobility levels or advise what adaptations could be made. I am currently involved in liaising with the Housing Team on new build properties, looking at the layout of the properties, and make recommendations to meet the needs of disabled people.

Michelle Chandler

Michelle Chandler, Senior Occupational Therapist for Adult Social Care, Directorate of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services

Hello I’m Michelle Chandler and I am an Occupational Therapist (OT) based in the Private Sector Housing Team. I am the first adult social care Occupational Therapist to be based in this team, as part of a new specialism for Occupational Therapists to support the process of disability grants. I am responsible for streamlining processes, improving services and service delivery, and supporting communication between the grants team and social services. I am also the lead for training newer Occupational Therapists in disability grants and major adaptations. I really enjoy mentoring people. Helping students and newly qualified staff through their careers has been one of the highlights of being in this role, as well as having the opportunity to develop the scope of the new Occupational Therapist position in the disabilities grants team.

I love living and working in Reading. I grew up in various wards with a mum who is a nurse. I followed in her footsteps and joined Royal Berkshire Hospital in 2002, gaining my Occupational Therapist qualification in 2010. I worked as an OT Technician, then as a Locum outside of Reading, before joining the social services team in Reading Borough Council in 2014.

Being an Occupational Therapist in Reading Borough Council is a great opportunity. There is a lot of variation so you definitely won’t get bored! We have the opportunity to specialise in a wide variety of areas, which will allow you to get in-depth knowledge and transfer the information to the wider OT community. Being able to specialise and share information ensures better service delivery for the service user, while also allowing us to follow our interests. There are also personal development opportunities, including the option of completing CPD (Clinical Person Development).

Pippa Durrant

Pippa Durrant, Senior Occupational Therapist, Directorate of Adult Social Care and Health

Being from Berkshire I have worked in most areas and up until a year ago I had not had the opportunity of working in Reading.  When the job came up for a senior post in the long term team I jumped at the chance.  I was excited at the thought of working in an area I was not overly familiar with but also with such a diverse population.  Reading presents with many challenges due to the dense population and it is the challenge of meeting such diverse need that attracted me to this post.  And I have not been disappointed.  There are of course limitations to the service we can provide but as occupational therapists we are creative and also excellent problem solvers and with such passionate support of our social work colleagues we are always able to adjust our ideas to allow for safe and effective therapy plans within service provision constraints.

My role involves assessing for and providing equipment, working with the major and minor adaptation teams, supporting our social work colleagues with assessing care needs; completing manual handling assessments and creating bespoke independent living training plans for some of our clients.  I work with young and elderly adults with long term physical and learning disabilities.  We have excellent links with other community teams and local healthcare providers and working with them helps build our skill base even more.

Not only does the team work incredibly hard to meet its client’s needs but the close and supportive nature of the team means that you are supported from the minute you walk through the door.  There are excellent training opportunities and any ideas you have about service development or alternative training opportunities they are willing to listen.

Sharon Reed

Sharon Reed, Deputy’s Administrator Apprentice, Directorate of Adult Social Care and Health

I’m Sharon Reed, and I have recently joined Reading Borough Council as an Apprentice with the Deputy’s Team for Adult Social Care.

Becoming an apprentice with the council has been a really valuable experience. I have been the sole carer for my son for the past 16 years, and being a trainee in the council has allowed me to regain my own identity while being part of an amazing team and helping the communities that I grew up in. I thought being over 50 would work against me, but the council were very supportive in encouraging me to go onto the New Directions Trainee Scheme and then my current apprenticeship.

I love working for the Deputy’s Team. Everyone has been so kind and helpful, and made me feel like I am part of the team. I can honestly say that I am also working for the best manager I have ever had. She not only supports me in learning the role, but provides support for my changing personal circumstances. It would be a dream come true to secure a permanent position with the council after finishing my apprenticeship, and I encourage others from various backgrounds to give apprenticeships with the council a try – you won’t regret it!