THE Foster Care Co-operative, a not-for-profit fostering agency based in Malvern, was visited by Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK.

He was specifically looking at successful and innovative organisations operating as co-operatives. He spent the time meeting the team and hearing about what they bring to the organisation.

Ed also visited Malvern Book Co-operative and Jamboree Co-operative whilst in the area.

Ed Mayo said: “For nearly twenty years the Foster Care Co-operative has shown what a difference it makes when an organisation is run by the people most involved, the foster carers and staff. The wider social care sector is gradually waking up to the importance of participation, something that the Foster Care Co-operative has pioneered for almost two decades. There is so much that can be learnt from this inspiring organisation.”

The Foster Care Co-operative’s founder, Laurie Gregory, said: "Quite apart from the morality of it, I wanted to give more children the chance of family life.

“I instinctively did not wish to start a for-profit company and after meetings with my Chamber of Commerce and invaluable advice from Co-operatives UK, I chose the model of multi-stakeholder and common ownership and registered the company. We have grown slowly by bringing new people to fostering."

The Foster Care Co-operative remains the only not-for-profit fostering agency operating as a co-operative in the UK. It has grown steadily and now has teams throughout England and Wales, with offices in Cardiff and Manchester.