InCafeYoung people with autism from a school in Cheadle are being given the opportunity to learn valuable skills and real-life experience in the world of work through a new business venture run by a charity.

The new venture, Inscape Enterprises, has opened a café, called InCafe, which is run by pupils and staff at Inscape House School, which caters for young people aged 4 to 18 years with autism spectrum conditions, to help them develop skills in catering, customer service and hospitality. 

Supported by local businesses in the town – including banks and a florist – the enterprise aims to give first-hand work experience to pupils in a real cafe. Many students have the skills to work independently in the cafe, with 13 having passed the Level 1 Food Hygiene Certificate.

The school is run by Cheadle-based charity, the Together Trust, which believes that everyone deserves an equal chance in life and through supporting young people and adults with behavioural problems, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and autism spectrum conditions they help to achieve just that.

Ventures such as InCafe have benefits because only 15% of autistic adults in the UK in full-time paid employment, although research shows that 79% of those on out of work benefits want to work. Often, gaining relevant experience in the workplace can be a barrier for people with autism in getting into paid employment.

Anne Price, Inscape House School’s head teacher, said, “Our pupils with autism spectrum conditions have some very valuable skills which can be applied in the workplace. 

“Many of our students have associated difficulties to do with learning and behaviour, stemming from significant communication difficulties and sensory needs. However the flip side to those difficulties is that in the right environment those difficulties can become strengths, such as routine and maintaining processes.

“80% of our pupils have the ability to gain paid employment and this is what they aspire to. We aim to offer our pupils the learning opportunities to achieve their goals.”

For instance, 17-year-old Katie has been working in the cafe and this has helped her confidence and provided her with the experience she needs to work in hospitality. “My favourite days are working in the café,” she said. “I like to be busy and wait tables.”

Price added: “Katie is always coming up with new ideas and along with her work experience in Stockport College cafe we are helping her to prepare for life after Inscape, by giving her the best chance of getting a job in an area that Katie loves!”

In addition to the café, Inscape Enterprises runs InConfection, a sweet delivering service supported by Swizzels Matlow to local businesses including Santander and Barclays banks along with intu Trafford Centre, and InCreative, which gives pupils the opportunity to share and sell their art and craft creations to the public.

The cafe is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 10.30am – 1.30pm at the Together Trust Central Office site on Schools Hill, Cheadle, SK8 1JE. Booking is recommended by calling 0161 283 4750 and the cafe can be opened for events, meetings and training on Thursdays and Fridays.