Maggie Dickinson, Chair

Qualifications: BA Social Science Hons degree, CQSW (Social Work qualification), Counselling and various Business & Management qualifications. Fifteen years working as a Local Government Social Worker, over thirty years and ongoing, working with a partner, setting up and running our own businesses (a small restaurant and property development and lettings) and seventeen years working as Manager and then CEO at Ordinary Lifestyles until retirement when I became a Trustee of the charity… and a little life experience … and some of these overlap – I’m not yet 84!

Following a period at Manchester University where I obtained my Social Science Degree, I began work as a Local Government Officer (Social Worker) for Manchester Social Services department. During my 15 years there I worked across a whole range of services but mainly specialising in Family Support, Child Protection and Learning Disabilities which undoubtedly I enjoyed the most. After some years I advanced to ‘level 4’ qualified to give advice and support to other colleagues.

This was a very interesting time for learning disabilities services as we were beginning to enable many people to move away from institutional support to live more independently in their respective homes and communities. Some were even the first to gain their own tenancies! Despite the many political and economic twists and turns and with much hard work by everyone involved, I consider that we have successfully moved on huge strides from then.

My many years as a self-employed person, no longer sheltered (or constrained) by the local government organisation, gave me a whole new set of insights, survival skills and freedoms to do things in my own way.

It was in 1998 when I was thinking of returning to some kind of employment with either social services or the RSPCA that my partner read a newspaper advert for the post of part-time Manager with Ordinary Lifestyles and packed me off to attend an interview. It was here that I met the people who wanted to set up their own business – a charitable organisation providing their own services for their adult sons and daughters with learning disabilities that would offer different, more independent lifestyles with more opportunities for choice and control than hitherto provided by the local authority. I’m so happy I met them. There followed another lifetime of amazing experiences during my employment here, meeting incredibly dedicated, innovative and happy people, colleagues and families who would not eschew difficulty to make good things happen for the people we support.