Warton mum opens accessible chip shop so her autistic son 'has a job for life'

Andrew Fletcher spoke to Gillian and her son about their accessible chip shop.

A mum has opened up an accessible chip shop so her autistic son "can have a job for life."

Gillian Jervis opened Oliver's Chippy in Warton near Blackpool after a stranger's comment on a forum labeled her son Oliver "a burden on the state."

She said: "I sometimes think I dreamt the comment and that I made it all up, because why would you say something like that?

"Have I read it wrong? I went through all of those emotions - it knocked me sideways."

Determined to prove the stranger wrong, the mum-of-four decided to start a business in her son's name.

Oliver's Chippy opened in 2021, and Gillian is already training her 12-year-old to take over when he grows up.

She said: "It gives him his structure, it’s a bit like school; his daily routine that he has to have. What you end up doing everyday – prepping the food, serving the food, making up the food, stocking the fridges... he’ll learn all that before he starts at sixteen."

Oliver's autism has caused communication difficulties, but he is able to express himself through in other ways.

The till's use images to make it easier for Oliver to select items

The facilities at Oliver's Chippy are built to help people with communication and accessibility issues, using visual screens on the tills as opposed to words and phrases.

Not only does this help Oliver, but also makes the shop more accessible to all customers.

She said: "You've got people with a stutter, so I've looked at it this way. Before people start to speak, they look at pictures don't they?

"It's better to see a picture of what you want, it gives you the confidence to come into my shop and order what you want without saying it."

The shop also offers services to make the process easier for all neurodivergent people to order their fish and chips.

Oliver won't officially start working at the chip shop until he is 16, but he's already learning how to use the till.

Gillian said: "We do have a disability point access, we do have a ramp, we do have a visual menu.

"If you came in and you want your order all separate and you said jigsaw we know that it means everything's separate."

Since opening, the chippy have fed more than 1,300 children and supported other families across the Fylde Coast. This includes giving away a family holiday, an iPad, air fryer and over 100 competition meals.

"We had the cost of living crisis, fuel shortages, the after effects of Covid and people not working as they were, with people losing their jobs due to Covid as well," Gillian continued.

"So I just said to Arran, shall we feed the kids for free? He said yes - but how are we going to do it? I said I don't know, but we'll find a way of doing it."

The first Easter holidays the chippy was open for, the business took the financial hit of giving out free meals for the children in the area.

Then, for the six-week summer holidays that year, the business was supported by Bryning with Warton Parish Council and a Go Fund Me was started.

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