Moss Rose Cottage CIC

Moss Rose Cottage Community Interest Company (CIC)

Started 2021

Location: Cardiff, South Wales

We spoke to: Bernadette ( Bernie) Hurley ,  Founder and Director


Moss Rose Cottage CIC was inspired by Bernie’s daughter Emily Hurley , who was born with a brain injury. Located in Rumney, the Cottage’s researched therapeutic and creative activities engage and rehabilitate people with non-visible disabilities (NVD) such as brain injury. Bernie manages the project on a voluntary basis.


A person standing next to a signDescription automatically generated with low confidence“People overlook abilities and focus on disabilities - they don’t see hidden talents. We  use “Barrier”. Injury suggests that something is less than perfect, that it’s damaged – we don’t think of people as damaged- Emily is perfect as she is”


“I always do my homework – I never do anything unless I know it’s going to work – I trial legitimate ideas – they are also very simple.”


SFW support : “A big benefit for me was being questioned, being challenged”



Photo: Founder Berine outside the newly refurbished cottage



 “ I want to go to work” was Emily’s response to Bernie asking what she wanted after completing full time education. Bernie, a teacher and Chaplain, researched provision to meet Emily’s needs but found nothing suitable “I didn’t look to start provision – it didn’t exist”.

“Emily can’t work as society expects her to , but just because society expects her to doesn’t mean she hasn’t anything to give, and that’s why we did this” 

Through family Emily found work making boxes “She was the fastest and best but no one told her to stop - an example of the kind of support she needs. When she gets things wrong her self-esteem suffers”.

Bernie researched best practice in working with people with Non Visible Disabilities (NVD), including through health and social care charity Engage Britain  “I was able to feedback to hosts across Britain – without exception nothing like this exists”

The Cottage approach is based on Swansea University’s GENIAL model – the activities and support for each person includes acknowledging the crucial role of community, environment, meeting individual abilities, needs and self-expression including through creativity. 

Bernie found the disused cottage and submitted a business plan to Emily’s NHS Award Fund Manager for refurbishment.


Aim - Supporting people with non-visible disabilities (NVD) to overcome barriers

“I experienced discrimination because I am a parent of someone with extra needs  - a terrible time, so  I knew I wanted the end goal to be full and satisfied and proud and accepted regardless of your limitations , then working back from that and then thinking : what do I need to do to and break it down?” 

The service enables people with NVD and their carers to promote wellbeing, self-esteem, meaningful and long lasting relationships with other individuals and their local community.


Activities and Services

Activities enhance wellbeing, life skills and learning including counselling, group cooking, crafts, gardening. Attendees and volunteers share skills ,I ncluding  creative writing , photography, birdwatching. Parents and carers are also offered support.

The When I’m Not Here Programme  is a care planning process including  financial planning, benefits talks, DWP advice. The result is a Care Plan including finance, housing , health. Bernie leads on the  emotional planning  – a personalised plan detailing how to reassure, assist, likes and dislikes : “ What do I need to tell you about the person - if she gets upset reassure her , or don’t use that yellow cup” Bernie hopes GPs will become part of the care planning.


Photo: Gardening as a therapeutic activity


Why a social enterprise?

“ We need to make money” - The only way to ensure long term sustainability for the service is to be self-reliant and generate it’s own income through renting the studio flat to carers of people trying independent living , selling goods.


Social Firms Wales  support

SFW development support includes a funding strategy, a funding bid, policies and planning, including a SWOT analysis to plan for sustainability

“I love working with Vina and San – a big benefit for me was being questioned, being challenged” Bernie is also grateful to Rhys of Social Business Wales, who helped to set up the CIC. The support has helped Bernie to condense what she needed to express into formal language – crucial for funding, planning, project development.

The best thing, why we are inclusive is because we focus on your need as a person to live a full and satisfying life and to feel appreciated, wanted, to belong and be productive. Iinitially it was about Emily’s brain injury - it’s not the injury but the impact on her self-esteem and her as a person.


Impact and Sustainability


A picture containing outdoor, personDescription automatically generatedPeople - feeling valued, useful and included: “People attending are asked what can you do, what can you bring?” The 15 volunteers have specific roles; 50 people with NVD and their carers attend weekly with demand increasing as is the need for staffing.

Volunteers often become facilitators , sharing skills - they include psychologists, psychology students, photographers, cake decorators, crafters, sewers, writers, knitters, gardeners, birdwatchers.

Carer and volunteer Tina :“ It’s the atmosphere - very friendly. Straightaway you feel as if it’s home; I get out of the house as well. It’s nice to do something and meet other people; it’s good for my husband”


Photo Cottage regulars in the garden


A community member with NVD is a bird expert “An example of use of skills,  being productive : on St Patrick’s Day people sat in the Cottage garden and watched birds” . Another regular attendee knows she is accepted not judged, encouraged, celebrated . “ If you’re welcome, you’re happy”

Relationship building with Agencies - The Department of Work and Pension (DWP) staff come along, and volunteer through Business in The Community and advise . “We refer people to each other”


Planet: Activities such as gardening will increase self-sufficiency  as the cottage produce their own fruit, vegetables  and herbs; being close to nature is crucial to the wellbeing and the garden is a core aspect of provision.


Pounds:  “In 5 years we will be completely self-sufficient”. Income sources will include room rental to trial independence, selling goods, and franchising “I’m hoping to prove that this model works , formalise the model so that other people can replicate it”.


Premises: Owned by the CIC the Cottage will generate income to become self-sustaining.



Insuring the project was the biggest challenge: “Nobody knew what I was talking about. I looked for provision and realised it didn’t exist. I had to create the model completely and get insurers to understand the public liability aspect. It took months and months for public liability insurance but you can’t open your doors without it”


Bernie’s advice

Do your research, look for existing provision as it will :

  • tell you what exists
  • give you a model if it exists
  • highlight gaps in provision

Appoint trustees ( directors, committee members) with the relevant skills – The Cottage’s six directors skills include planning, finance, occupational therapy , medicine , legal and psychology.

Pace yourself and do not open the service to the community until you have every policy in place.

Have a Plan B – Bernie ensures she has cover for activities if a volunteer or facilitator don’t attend.

Wait until you have the right person to run an activity before you invite people

Reach out to other people “a really good important thing , because without exception I find support – reach out to Social Firms Wales!”


Website : Moss Rose Cottage – 'Turning I can't into I can'.

Facebook:  Moss Rose Cottage C.I.C | Cardiff | Facebook


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