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What was it that made me begin this co-operative journey? In some ways I didn’t feel I had any choice. My life experiences had bought me to this junction. Carol my sister had been born with a hole in her heart in 1961 one year after I was born. Her experience and impact on my family gave me good grounding in what good collaborative working should look like for my sister and our family. Carol’s short life ended in 1969 when the pioneering operation on her heart failed and she passed away. Her legacy is her big sister's journey towards care cooperatives. 

For 30 years I had worked alongside people in the care sector first as a support worker in a large children’s home in Southall through to managing services for people with learning disabilities in The Action Group here in Edinburgh. I was always conscious that the nuclear family was excluded from their cared for person.  Services knew best, individuals and families had to fit into ‘The Service’. 

When I had the opportunity to lead EDG, it was a place that wanted and aimed to work with the person and their families as the ‘drivers’ of their own destinies. Self-managing Care Co-operative whether run by families or persons needing the direct support will be naturally ‘person centred.’ If professionals are the ‘critical friends’ offering their thoughts and suggestions but not taking the lead, then the ‘drivers’ are in charge of their own train, passengers and onward destinations. 

Maureen Martin
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