“Just the smallest of changes can create a safe and secure place for autistic people to feel comfortable ”
In January 2019, Autism-Europe had the opportunity to take lunch at Café TRACK, a business that provides work for experience opportunities for young autistic people in Northampton, UK. Here below you can read a transcription of this video-interview with Thomas Cliffe, director of TRACK NN Limited, the social enterprise that promotes this initiative.
Thomas Cliffe: “I’ve been a teacher in Northamptonshire for 10 years, supporting autistic people to access further education, higher education. I then became aware there were not many autistic adults in employment. What we wanted to do is to provide somewhere for people to come and gain work experience and also to work with employers in terms of making them more aware of how they can make a workplace more aware/accepting of autism.
“Just the smallest of changes like providing interview questions in advance or allowing people to bring a friend along with them to the interview. So, we’re working with them and here in the café as well, we’re creating a safe and secure place for people to feel comfortable. We only really want people to feel that they don’t need to wear a mask or anything, they can come in and enjoy just themselves.”
Thomas Cliffe: “So, this is downstairs in Café TRACK. When we took over the premises, this was an area used with fridges and freezers and storage for food… and what we’ve done, is actually, redesigned the area… just to create a ‘time-out’ space for people to come… if it gets a little bit too noisy upstairs, or if they feel, perhaps, their anxiety is rising, they come down here. It’s a quieter area, it’s cooler as well, for some people it makes a difference.
“We haven’t kitted it out with lots of sensory equipment because what we wanted to do is to make it suitable for adults and children… and we’re really looking for ideas on what we people would like us to do as we go forwards. So, for our regular customers that come in, they’ll come in with ideas and then we can make changes if they want us to.”