THE Makers Gallery & Bistro in Alloa will be turned into a café and hub that will not only support people with autism, but also provide a space for the community.

With its headquarters and specialist school already in town, Scottish Autism will run the new operation under the name 'Makers' – due to be launched before Hogmanay.

It will include a café with a kitchen and garden, a shop as well as an exhibition space.

Makers will also be a base for delivering outreach and day opportunities for service users as well as events and workshops for the wider community.

Felicity Lister, regional manager at the charity, said: “We are delighted to announce our latest venture in Alloa which will not only deliver some great benefits to the individuals we support but will also offer the local community a new café and gallery to visit.

“For the individuals we support, Makers will provide a wonderful opportunity to build their skills portfolios in a number of areas such as catering, hospitality and retail which for some could lead to securing future employment.

“It will also act as a local hub for information sharing and help to bring different parts of the community together.”

As the Advertiser previously reported, the Makers Gallery & Bistro, which was open until March this year, was run by Reachout with Arts in Mind as a social enterprise and became available after the group's five-year project came to an end.

Saying goodbye, Reachout CEO Lesley Arthur said the bistro was a "warm welcoming, contemporary art space delivering excellent customer service and a unique experience to our customers”.

Initially, it was established to provide education, progression and employability for Wee County adults experiencing mental health issues and other barriers to entering the world of work.

Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface is also backing the new venture, with business manager Anthea Coulter adding: “Makers has a special place in the hearts of people in Alloa and Clackmannanshire.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been able to support Scottish Autism in helping them plan for this new venture and hope that the local community will give it the very best of support as it sets out on a new journey to help a wide number of people with learning disabilities and autism.”

On behalf of the landlords, the Mulraney Group, Mike Mulraney said: "We were very sad to see the end of the highly successful Reachout Project earlier this year, which had added a lot to the local community, and consequently we are delighted that Scottish Autism have taken the opportunity to take on the café/bistro as a training and community hub and so to retain this community asset.

"We have been very impressed with the ideas and plans put forward by Scottish Autism to manage the café and we are confident that local people and past customers will be eager to support it.

"We look forward to working with Scottish Autism to help maximise community benefit from this facility."