AN ALTERNATIVE clothes shop opened in the middle of Ilminster as part of a project created to help young people with autism find employment and independence.

Punky Dory opened its doors earlier this month on 10 Silver Street in the town centre with the support of the Silver Lining internships, an employment placement for young people with autism and special educational needs.

The shop will provide vintage clothes, anime, jewellery, Christmas gifts, punk, goth, anime, glam rock, and more.

Chard & Ilminster News: Evelyn AshfordEvelyn Ashford (Image: Contributed)

Evelyn Ashford, creative director at Silver Lining, said: “We teach them employment skills.

“We started with the Gamemaster Café and now we opened Punky Dory, which is an alternative clothing shop for young people but we have quite a good range for older people as well.


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Evelyn added: “At the shop, they can also make friends and have a bit more social interactions.

“We want to propose a new model that could be replicated elsewhere because young people are being failed all over the country.

“Now they are happy serving customers and finding their own identity while learning work ethics.

“We are also working with special schools and local authorities.”

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The project started with the Silver Lining Gift Shop, which has now become Punky Dory, and the Gamemaster Café.

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.

When the café opened back in February, Evelyn 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.

“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.”

The Silver Lining Internships programme tries to fill the gap in provision for young adults.

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