World’s first cafe for neurodivergent people calls for support as it faces imminent closure
The innovative Aubergine Café in Cardiff is calling for support to help avert the threat of imminent closure.
The café and arts space, owned and run by autistic/neurodivergent people and believed to be the first of its kind in the world, is facing the threat of eviction by the end of the year after its landlord refused to renew the lease on the building in Clare Street, after initially seeking to increase its rent by 50%.
The cafe hosts open mic nights for emerging neurodivergent poets and musicians from all around Wales, monthly exhibitions by local neurodivergent artists, and a weekly arts and crafts social group as well as providing an accessible and affordable venue for activities run by local people, organisations and networks.
The group behind the café are calling for supporters to gather this evening from 6.30pm until 8.30pm for free food and placard making, to celebrate the space, share ideas and draft letters of support and to help them move forward with a plan to save their cafe and arts space.
Selena Elliott – Director of Aubergine Cafe and Events CIC said: “Having stood empty for a year or so, the property was a building site covered in mould, grease and botched jobs when we got our hands on it.
“We had to put in about £20K worth of building and materials, and a further £16,080 in community volunteer hours. It took us around 5 months. Then the pandemic hit, we paid rent faithfully throughout.
“We saved this space from staying empty as it was unleasable before we rejuvenated it and saved it from rotting away for 3 years.
“Most importantly, we transformed the space to make it a sanctuary for autistic people and a place for the Riverside and wider Cardiff community to come to.”
“This situation with the increase all seemed to come about after we asked them to take care of some repairs, notably the front door which we struggled to open and close, and I recognise that that can be expensive, but we estimate we’ve paid £26,400 in rent to date.
“Altogether we’ve brought around £52k in value to their property turning it into a more valuable place. At the very least, we’d like to be able to have a conversation about how we can continue to work in the space we have created and not lose all of the assets our community has purchased and quite literally, built together.
“ It would be a travesty for us to have to start all over again, from scratch, effectively throwing away everything that we have worked for together.”
To keep up to date with news and progress on the campaign to keep the café open and to find out how you can continue to support them, you can join the Aubergine Mailing List here….
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“Neurodivergence is a social theory, not a diagnosis,” explains Dr. Boxley. “You can choose to identify yourself as neurodivergent, but you should not unilaterally assign other people the label of neurodivergent. Not all individuals with a medical diagnosis like autism or ADHD self-identify as neurodivergent. There is also no standard for a ‘neurotypical brain.’”
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So the tenants fixed up a dump, which increased its market value at no cost to the owner, then the landlord decided they wanted the new market value?
Just goes to show what an own-nothing rent-everything world is like, really.