We are a close-knit team at Autisan Café. Our team includes six autistic individuals, who we support to develop their employment skills and experience of working in a shop and café environment. Every one of them has made great achievements and overcome at least one thing they used to find challenging. Meet some of our team below and read their stories.
Dan started his career at Autisan Café as a volunteer, and first heard about the opportunities through Lancashire county council and their links with The National Autistic Society. He built up his skill base and confidence working in the café with us so quickly that he is now a paid part-time member of staff.
“I really enjoy coming to work and feeling that I am part of the team”
Dan told us, “When I first arrived 12 months ago I didn’t know how to cook or prepare food and was bit worried about using the equipment. With the help of the café staff I was shown how to use all of the equipment and I’m now preparing some of the meals that go out to the customers. When it was my birthday, the rest of the staff presented me with a birthday cake which I really appreciated and made me feel like I really fit in.”
Dan was our first autistic volunteer at Café Autisan, and to watch his skill base increase and his confidence grow in such a short space of time has been amazing to see. Dan is a great example of why we are involved in these enterprise activities, and it’s a perfect opportunity for him to start his career in an environment where trained staff have a good understanding of people on the autism spectrum.
Tiffany has been working on the production of our Autisan fudge for over two years now. She is supported through The National Autistic Society’s supported living services as well as through the café itself.
We’ve watched Tiffany’s confidence grow since working for the fudge enterprise. When she first started, she needed some support to cut up the fudge and package it, now she works on almost everything completely independently.
She’s had the opportunity to meet some high profile guests whilst working on the fudge stall at events and conferences, and recently was able to meet Sophie, Countess of Wessex while selling fudge and other items at a national autism conference.
“Sophie asked me what my favourite flavour fudge was, and I told her it was chocolate and caramel”
“What I like most about working for the fudge enterprise is you get to taste all of the different flavours!”
Tiffany’s role at Autisan has evolved since joining us in 2014; she also works in the Café Autisan gift shop, stocking shelves and serving customers.She gets on really well with her co-workers and visitors, particularly since her self-esteem has improved so much.
Tiffany’s manager, Viktorija Kulikova, says she looks really confident in this environment and is a great asset to the team.
Martin started work for the Autisan enterprise project in 2013. Since then he’s attended many local and national autism-related events raising awareness for The National Autistic Society and its services, selling and showcasing our range of products. Some of these events are high profile among the autism community, and can have a footfall running into the thousands. He’s built up confidence by talking to the public, and having something meaningful and exciting he can share with others.
Martin is involved in all aspects of the fudge making process at our production suite here at Whalley Abbey.
“I enjoy serving and taking the money from the customers and helping set up and pack away the fudge cart”
Rachael Mills, who heads up our fudge production, says she’s seen huge improvements in Martin’s skill base, and overall abilities since he has been working with the production team, which has been really inspiring to see.
Recently Martin has also started work as a volunteer at Café Autisan where his duties include preparing food, taking orders out to the customers and clearing and cleaning the tables after service. His manager, Viktorija, said,
“Martin’s flexibility when it comes to the necessary tasks in the café has really impressed me, when Martin first joined the team he was quite limited to where he used his skills and spent a lot of time drying up the dishes, now Martin is serving the customers, clearing the tables and even preparing some of the meals. It’s been a real story of progression from when he walked through the doors to where he is today.”
Viktorija has set Martin the target of becoming more involved in the opening and closing of the premises, with the aim that all people who work here are involved in all aspects of the business. They’ll have invaluable skills to add to their CV and transfer to future work opportunities.
We offer a range of services for autistic adults across Lancashire. Read more about our residential homes, support in your home, one-to-one support, daytime hub and support in further and higher education.