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Cafe takes on staff with autism and learning difficulties to help learn vital skills

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

A popular seafront cafe in Swansea is being run by staff who have autism and learning difficulties, to help them learn vital work place skills.

Ripples, situated on the foot and cycle path between Mumbles and Blackpill, took on a number of young people in the autumn.

The scheme and will run until March this year.

16-17%
of autistic adults who can and want to work find employment (ASDES)

Support workers from the Swansea-based Autism Spectrum Disorder Employment Services (ASDES) says the experience is helping to prepare them for the wider jobs market:

Ripples had taken on one lad with autism and could see that it was working well, so we came up with the idea of asking if we could employ people over the winter and it's been working very well. It's been a chance of a lifetime for some of them.

You don't get many organisations offering such an opportunity. Someone with autism can find facing customers difficult, and that is what a lot of employers are asking for, so this is a great chance for them.

– Judith Thatcher, ASDES
Zoe works at the cafe every Monday. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Each person employed is accompanied by a job coach who help break down each task and provide instructions.

Zoe who works at the cafe every Monday, says it's given her a chance whereas others may not have:

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I just open up and make sure everyone's clean and tidy and presentable. Once customers are in, I serve them and chat with them.

I've been given a chance because in a lot of places I haven't been given a chance and I've found it very unfair. But here, thats the part that's most important to me because I've been given the chance to do what I want to do and learn different things.

– Zoe Heaven, employee

The project is funded by grant legacy fund track 2000 and has helped employ 10 people at Ripples.