The Gate named UK's first autism-friendly restaurant

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Gate in Islington has become the first restaurant in the UK to receive the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Autism Friendly Award.

Staff at the vegetarian venue are trained to work with autistic customers and ensure that their families feel welcome.

The restaurant maintains a ‘Chill Zone’ sofa area, where guests can relax and have both space and time alone.

It also offers an online ‘visual story’ allowing diners to familiarise themselves with the building and plan their visit in advance.

According to research from NAS, 50 per cent of autistic people and their families are often discouraged from going out because they are worried about how the public will react to their autism.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “Restaurants feature in the list of the top five places autistic people would love to visit if the venues and staff were more knowledgeable and accommodating.

“The Gate and its staff are not just making a difference to autistic people in their local community, they are also leading the way in terms of reducing social isolation and helping to open up the social world in the UK for the thousands of others.”

The restaurant was also praised for its work with North London charity Ambitious About Autism after staff visited the charity’s school to help students develop their cooking skills.

Michael Daniel, founder and owner of The Gate Restaurants, said: “Because I struggled with formal education myself and I know what it’s like to not fit in, this was a source of inspiration for me to help other children.

"Making it easier for autistic people and their family or carers to come to a non-judgemental environment is just the first step."

The Gate has two sites in Islington and Hammersmith, and a third venue is in the pipeline.

Lever said: “We hope that many more restaurants will follow their fantastic example.”    

Related topics: Openings, Trends & Reports, Restaurant

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