A social enterprise, supported by the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, has been launched in the Vale of Glamorgan with the aim of providing an inclusive and accessible social space for families of children with disabilities and special needs.
Founded in 2016 by sisters Helen, Anna and Rhian, Oshi’s World aims to support families of children with disabilities, special needs and life limiting conditions by providing opportunities for them to socialise and attend regular events.
The inspiration behind the social enterprise was Anna’s son Oshi, who was born in 2015 with a rare genetic condition and has profound special needs. Anna found that the local community lacked adequate facilities to accommodate him and his equipment. As a result, families of disabled children find it difficult to socialise and can often become isolated.
This motivated the three sisters to create a social enterprise that brings families together by providing fully-accessible facilities for children who have disabilities.
Director Helen Murphy said:
“It can be really difficult for families who care for disabled children to find the right facilities that allow them to play and socialise with other children. Through Oshi’s World, we want to bring families together by organising events within the local area that fill a gap in the market.
“There is a real need for an inclusive facility where families of children with disabilities can go to with siblings, cousins, and friends. A space where everyone can have fun, which is fully accessible, with adequate parking, changing facilities, and sensory and outdoor play.”
After being referred to Business Wales by a family friend, a dedicated adviser provided one-to-one support to help Oshi’s World develop a comprehensive business plan and register the company as a charity. This involved guiding the directors through the operational regulations that Oshi’s World needed to consider in order to grow in a sustainable manner. Fundraising guidance was also offered and this in turn has led to numerous community coffee mornings being organised.
Speaking about working with Business Wales, Helen said:
“When we set up Oshi’s World, we really needed help forming a coherent plan to work from. Our adviser was brilliant and his advice helped give us a bit more focus on what we needed to do in order to get the business off the ground. Once the foundations were in place, we were able to hold our first coffee meeting, and it was a great moment to meet so many people in the local community who wanted and needed a service like Oshi’s World.
“Business Wales offered us a huge amount of support and guidance when we first turned to them, and with the knowledge of our adviser we were able to set clear goals to take the business forward, which is something we really needed. Overall, Business Wales has been a huge help to us.”
With fundraising activities now underway, the sisters are currently organising events using the facilities at a local specialist school, Ysgol Y Deri in Penarth. The next step for Oshi’s World is to secure enough funding to purchase and run its own community facility.
Jayesh Parmar, adviser to Oshi’s World at Business Wales, said:
“Taking the first step to launch a new business is a big responsibility and we’re always on hand for our clients to help ease the pressure and help walk them through those crucial first stages.
“We were really happy that we were able to help Oshi’s World create a strong business plan and get the business up and running. With a solid foundation in place we look forward to providing additional help and support to Helen, Anna and Rhian as they search for new facility premises.”
Oshi’s World top 5 tips for anyone else starting up their own business would be:
- Be passionate and enthusiastic about what you do
- Work hard to get where you want to be
- Get to know your local community and the area your business is in
- Don’t be afraid to take the first step, get yourself out there
- Look to get any support you can, whether it’s from family, friends, or from places like Business Wales
Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, supports the sustainable growth of small and medium size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support.
To find out how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/everyday-entrepreneur or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/entrepreneur-bob-dydd for further information.