Since 2016, SCT has been working with older women with an autism diagnosis, or who suspect they have autism. From this project, SCT, with the help of our partner GITM, built the MCR Vegan Centre community café, to fit the needs of those we worked with.
The café has a calming atmosphere with low lighting and sounds of nature, and the food is intended to be both healthy and easy to digest; many people with autism have gastrointestinal issues that can be exacerbated by animal products. The café aims to remain accessible by keeping meals at or below £5.
When recruiting staff, we have focused on finding people with invisible disabilites who need support with employability, presentation, and social skills. To date, we have given support to a young man with social difficulties recovering from brain surgery; a young Deaf woman who had recently completed her catering course at college and required a supportive working environment; and a young dyspraxic woman who required support both in employment and claiming entitlements.
The café is open about its purpose. It aims to provide an environment where those with invisible disabilities can feel safe and comfortable in a space where they can meet, chat, and eat with no time limits on their stay.