Centre for Social Work Practice

Mini and Me

Review posted September 16, 2014


By Michael Mini Cooper

I first came across Mini Cooper in the Autumn of 2013 when a documentary about him originally shown in the 1970’s was re-shown with an up to date commentary. It was made by Franc Roddham the writer and director of Quadrophenia and followed Mini during his stay in a secure unit aged 10 years. I was instantly captivated by the character and his story so bought Mini’s book which charts his journey to the unit and his life subsequently.

Mini came from a working class family, both parents struggled and Mini started running away at age 3 years and was placed in a series of unhelpful and sometimes abusive institutions from 5 years. He spent his childhood absconding from institutions and returning home and developed a fascination with fire eventually burning down his family home which led to his incarceration in the secure unit. A series of events and responses led to a life time of institutional and professional care and control most of which seems to have failed to really understand Mini or his predicament.

There are several marked things about this book for me, firstly Mini’s burning spirit and the rawness of his story and the telling of it. There is a depth of detail and clarity of voice which is unusually revealing. The other key factor is the power of relationship, for it is clear that the one thing that has really helped Mini throughout his life, more than any formal intervention, is his ongoing and now life long relationship with Franc who has continued to be available and supportive to Mini throughout and for a long time became his preferred destination when he absconded and became a legitimate haven as he got older.

This is a book which reveals how well meaning institutions and professionals can get things so wrong and how relationship, care and individual tenacity can overcome just about anything and is a moving, memorable and powerful testimony. I would thoroughly recommend it as a very good read for anybody and as an important tool for reflection and learning for everyone in the social care, health or justice fields.

*Jane Herd
Director of Development


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