When Emma Sterland’s older brother Ben, who has Down’s syndrome, was three, their mother saw another child with Down’s walking past their Surrey house. Back then, in the late 1950s, learning disabled people were hidden away in institutional care, and it was the first time June had seen another child like Ben; she ran into the street to shouting: “I’ve got a son like that!”
In the absence of today’s official support networks, a lasting friendship began between the two mothers.
June could have done with Netbuddy, the self-styled “special needs Mumsnet” managed by her daughter, Emma. Just 18 months old, it crowdsources tips, attracting 6,000 new visitors a month and reaching 4,000 people a month via Facebook. Continue reading the rest of my piece on the Guardian’s social care network.