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Hi, my name is Bernadette Hurley, I have always lived in Cardiff as have my three children aged 18-23. I am a High School Teacher and Chaplain by trade, but at present I am developing a model of engagement/rehabilitation to serve my daughter Emily-Rose (23) and others like her. 

Emily has several medical conditions that include a brain Injury, amnesia, bi-lateral hearing loss and chronic lung disease. These injuries are a result of a hypoxic episode that she sustained immediately prior to her birth. (Her brain was starved of oxygen.)

Emily’s conditions have had a detrimental effect on both our career prospects/paths. As an injured person Emily has several barriers to employment that are both physical and emotional. As a parent/primary caregiver, I have experienced barriers/challenges too. Emily and I recognize that we are not alone in our struggles, so we have decided to create an environment that would help others who face the same battles and educate those around them on how they can support those in need. We have recently purchased a detached property in Rumney, Cardiff, from which we intend to operate. 

At this point, it is important to recognize the incredible support that Emily continues to receive from Headway. Headway is the National Brain Injury Association. Our project Moss-Rose Cottage has been created to supplement and not replace the existing opportunities and commitments that our future colleagues at Moss-Rose Cottage already have in place.

Emily’s struggles/barriers are far from obvious when you meet her. Arguably this can be seen as a huge advantage, but of course the flip side of this is, if your barrier/struggle is not clearly apparent, then nor is your vulnerability, or your genuine need for extra support and understanding. I often explain to people who suggest ‘You’d never know that there’s anything wrong with her!’ that they are absolutely right, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with her; however she does face every day carrying the double-edged sword of invisible barrier and invisible need. Again, this has also been an issue for me as a carer because people are often unappreciative of her daily struggles and the challenges that I have faced whilst trying to support her. I know that this is experienced by many others in the same position as us.

Due to her injury, Emily will never be able to be employed in the same way that her peers will be, but she has far too much to offer not to work at all. She wants and deserves to enjoy the success and satisfaction of completing a day’s work, as well as the emotional and social benefits that come with that. 

In January 2020 I began looking for provision in Cardiff that would meet and support all of her various needs, whilst promoting and encouraging the development of her incredible strengths and abilities. 

I could find nothing suitable, so I went to the Job Centre to enquire about self employment for people like Emily. I was impressed to hear that there is some flexibility for specific clients in receipt of certain benefits to work and earn a wage (within set parameters of course) without their benefits being affected. Finally, a model of flexibility that would allow Emily and those like her to work when they were able, but not have the financial uncertainty that would come from leaving the benefit system entirely. Just as importantly, this model would encourage people with invisible injuries to engage positively with a workplace, because these terms it could ensure the flexibility that they required. 

The problem now was who would be the employer?  

I contacted local small businesses ranging from cafes to carpet fitters, builders to butchers and without exception they all agreed (with the right safety measures in place) to offer some structured work experience and work with me to create specific ‘How to’ check list for each job and colleagues. All of these businesses explained that they wanted to support those in our local community and were often in need for ‘an extra pair of hands’ but were unable to offer a permanent position. Perfect! The self-esteem gained from any such learning transaction would far out-weigh any financial gain of a ‘regular’ day at work. 

The hunt was on to find a base from which to operate. There was absolutely no competition out there in comparison to Moss-Rose Cottage and so the idea was born.  

Moss-Rose Cottage C.I.C was registered with Companies House on February 17th 2021, thanks to the support of our directors; Dr Jack Jarman, Mrs Julie Kay, Mrs Joanne Roberts & Mr Sean Ramezani. 

We are at the beginning of our journey, but we have great hopes for the future. We hope that you will keep up to date with our progress, support us when you can and celebrate our success. 

With the very best of wishes to you and yours. 

Bernadette Hurley.