Whalley Abbey


Café Autisan provides an innovative environment for people on the autism spectrum to expand their skills and build self-esteem and confidence. Developed as part of a wider enterprise initiative, the café, gift shop and art gallery allow each person we support to achieve practical workplace experience. Located in the beautiful North Range building of the Grade 1 listed landmark, Whalley Abbey in Lancashire, Café Autisan promotes strong links with the local community.

What we do

We support several autistic people to work in the café, preparing and selling coffee, afternoon tea, cakes and sandwiches. Each person we support has the opportunity to complete an NVQ in catering and hospitality and achieve other recognised work-based qualifications including ASDAN. Gaining essential interview experience and developing their skill base, everyone we work with will learn transferable skills that will help contribute to brighter employment prospects.

People we support in our various adult services are also involved in developing a range of homemade products, which are on sale in the café gift shop. Any proceeds generated through the café are reinvested into providing further opportunities for the people we support.

It feels good to be involved in the working world and to be part of such a positive team. This has helped me to make friends and increase my independence.

Martin, an autistic adult volunteering at the café.

Some of our products include:

  • handmade fudge
  • greetings cards
  • ceramic plant pots
  • luxury soaps and beauty products
  • homemade jams and chutneys
  • sculptures and artwork

Our team

Every member of staff is fully trained to support autistic people and continues to build on their knowledge throughout their career. We get to know each individual and offer them tailored support based on their needs and ambitions. Our ambition is to create long-term employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum.

How to access our enterprise activities

We are always looking to create new, innovative opportunities to support more people on the autism spectrum and help them to be part of their local community. Through our enterprise projects we aim to give people on the autism spectrum valuable experience in practical and meaningful work, taking into account a range of support needs.

We create a highly tailored package of support through our services, the majority of which can be funded by the local authority, depending on each person’s needs and objectives. We build a support plan around their goals and ambitions, and through our enterprise projects they achieve a variety of outcomes.

Where and when to find us:

The café is open from 10am-4pm Monday–Sundays. We encourage you to drop by and visit us to find out more about our enterprise activities, and to join our growing number of regular customers!

Café Autisan, Whalley Abbey, The Sands, Whalley, BB7 9SS