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I’ve just celebrated my 5-year anniversary working for Co-op. I'd made a big decision 5 years ago to move to a new role, two hours away from my home in Yorkshire. As an exciting new career step - I expected a challenge. I knew from the start that I'd have to balance my role with being a mum of two boys. My eldest son has a very rare and complex genetic condition.  

Living with a rare disease  

Sam is one of a hundred or so people in the UK with a condition called Morquio Syndrome. Morquio causes shortness of stature, progressive disability and complex health challenges.   

Rightly or wrongly, I’ve never really thought of myself as a carer. I’ve always preferred to describe it as being a mum with some extra jobs to do.   

However, the truth is that those extra jobs are demanding and unpredictable sometimes. Sam has many hospital appointments. I administer a drug infusion for him once a week, which takes four hours, and sometimes he needs surgery. On top of this, there are a million little hidden adaptions and considerations that form part of our every-day lives. As a result, there are some adjustments that I need from Co-op to allow me to manage everything.  

At Co-op I can care for Sam and progress my career  

Flexible working has taken on a whole new meaning for all of us in the post-pandemic world. And very much for the better for disabled people, people with long term health conditions, parents and carers.   

Co-op has always given me the flexibility to manage the demands in my life, whilst supporting me to develop my career. I know that I can work from home to accommodate medical or school appointments whenever they come up.  

I’ve learnt so much about disability and the challenges of living with long term health conditions. I’m extremely proud that I get to share this experience as Deputy Chair for Represent. Represent is our colleague disability network, set up to celebrate differences, break down barriers and educate others. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to make sure disabled colleagues get the support they need to succeed in the same way I have. 

Katy Brown, 

Operating Model Design Lead 

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