A MUM has launched a café and board game venue to help young people with special educational needs achieve independence through internships and work experiences.

Evelyn Ashford, set up the Gamesmaster Café in Ilminster as part of a supported work placement scheme.

Evelyn, whose son has autism, also said there were not enough facilities in the area for people with autism, especially for young people, and decided to start this venture as part of the Silver Lining Internship scheme.

Chard & Ilminster News:

The Gamesmaster Café's activity is also linked to the Silver Lining store, a model and gift shop also based in Ilminster, “which is still the most effective start on our interns' journey to independence”.

She said: “I decided I would set up a model railway and gift shop to help them live and work independently.

“My son now can have something to be engaged with and work independently.

“There is little provision available, it is about the places young people with autism can go to and be able to learn real work skills. My son is now working independently.”

The venue opened last week and Evelyn is planning to make this space available for two or three evenings a week and on weekends.

Chard & Ilminster News:

She also said: “We have had fantastic feedback from the community and from families. A lot of people said they would really like an early evening place they could visit and where they could relax.”

At Gamesmaster Café, people can play board games like Scrabble and Monopoly as they “really bring families together” but also enjoy hot drinks, cakes, and mac and cheese.

Evelyn added: “It is about giving them more confidence so that they are ready for other employers and engage in different environments so that they can move on and become independently employed.”

Evelyn established Silver Lining Internships to try to fill the gap in provision for young adults.

The team works to optimise the benefits of the programme to support more young people to achieve their goal of independence.

The scheme offers work experiences, internships, and employment support.

Evelyn also founded ‘Educational Equality’, SEND (Special Educational Needs & Disabilities).

More information is available here.

The Gamesmaster Café, based on 26 Silver Street, Ilminster, also works with various external employers to support taster sessions and other kinds of paid work experience to target skills, increase confidence, and promote ambition. 

For more information, visit its website here. More information about Silver Lining can be found here.