A CAFE and hub in Alloa has reopened under new banners last week to provide autistic people an opportunity to experience the workplace.

Called Makers, the cafe on Ludgate is run by national charity Scottish Autism which was founded by a group of parents in the town 50 years ago.

It is hoped the venue will accommodate events and workshops for community groups; and individuals who access Scottish Autism services have the opportunity to work in a supportive environment.

Jackie Latto, director of autism services at the charity, said: “Autistic people will be directly involved in the running of Makers, and this will provide them with the opportunity to boost their confidence and independence, along with providing an opportunity to learn vocational skills.

“It demonstrates how autism services are evolving; enabling autistic people to lead full and enriched lives and become valuable members of the community they live in.”

She added: “We also hope to attract external bodies and community groups to Makers to use its wonderful multi-purpose hub space, bringing more people into Alloa and the local environment.”

Officially cutting the ribbon on Makers, which is located where the former Makers Gallery & Bistro was run by Reachout with Arts in Mind, was mental health minister Maureen Watt, who visited on Thursday, February 1.

The senior figure was “delighted and honoured” when she got the scissors in her hand.

She said: “ It is an inspiring, nurturing space that people who access Scottish Autism’s services will benefit enormously from.

“It is also a fantastic boost for Clackmannanshire and the surrounding area.”

A variety of foods and drinks are on offer at the cafe throughout the day, with breakfasts and lunches made from locally and socially sourced produce.

The space features an exhibition area and a shop with works from users of the charity's Art Opportunities service.

Jill Ferguson, service manager for the central area at Scottish Autism, said: “There is also a shop and gallery showcasing the work of many of the talented artists and makers that Scottish Autism support within Central Area Services.

“In addition to providing much needed vocational opportunities for people with autism and learning disabilities, we hope that Makers will provide a welcoming space that nurtures supportive relationships with our local community.

“We’re aiming to create a wonderful community cafe that becomes a destination for the people of Clackmannanshire and further afield.”

The space was taken over by the charity last year after Reachout's project ended, since then, Scottish Autism has been working to create the contemporary and multi-functional space on small a budget as possible.

In part, this was made possible by utilising existing kitchen equipment which was previously donated to Reachout by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

Makers is open from Tuesday to Saturday between 9.30am and 3pm.