New cafe aims to transform lives in South Shields

Sea Change staff team:  Georgina Whale-Spencer, Harrison Farrell-Forster, Fari Farazandeh, Andrew Auty, Bryn Howard.
Sea Change staff team: Georgina Whale-Spencer, Harrison Farrell-Forster, Fari Farazandeh, Andrew Auty, Bryn Howard.

A new cafe which has opened in South Tyneside aims to help transform the lives of people with autism and learning disabilities.

Located on Ocean Road, South Shields, Sea Change will be a café and community venue with a difference - offering quality food locally sourced, real-world employment and training opportunities, and a wide variety of social activities.

These will include autism friendly social events, live music, supper clubs, baby socials and exhibitions,

The café, which opened last week, is a joint venture with specialist education provider, AutismAble.

It will provide individuals with real-life work experience and employment opportunities where they can learn and develop work and life skills in a safe and supportive environment.

AutismAble director, Sarah Farrell says the new cafe would “provide a unique experience”.

She said: “This is really great project to be involved in. Since September 2017, we’ve trialed a weekly cafe at our community base at the Custom Space in South Shields.

“Our learners prepare their own menu and prepare and serve food to the public every Friday morning.

“They’ve also developed skills such as food preparation, storage, cooking, teamwork, customer awareness, time management, numeracy, stock taking and the ability to work to deadlines.

“Opening a café is the next logical step, and we already have a large waiting list of learners and volunteers wanting to get involved.”

She added: “The community and local businesses are already on board and we’re confident that, with what we have planned, that Sea Change will provide a unique space and experience in South Shields.”

Sea Change is a Community Interest Company (CIC) limited by shares. All of its activities will be accountable to a governing board. The board is made up of respected members of the public, local business people, an accountant, teachers, parents and individuals with Autism.

Chair of AutismAble, Phil Grice: “AutismAble is now recognised within and beyond South Tyneside as a high quality provider of Autistic specialist support.

“I know that this venture will be a success, developing and establishing a high quality team of staff.

“We’ll be improving and enhancing our existing premises and exploring possibilities for additional accommodation to meet the demands for us to take additional students.”