Fife’s first sensory cafe prepares to open

Steven Wilkins and Mel Lingwood with their daughter Xanthe. Pic by FPA
Steven Wilkins and Mel Lingwood with their daughter Xanthe. Pic by FPA

Fife’s first sensory cafe/restaurant is due to open soon in Kirkcaldy.

The cafe, to be called Sensoriale, will be in the east end of the town’s High Street and will cater for customers with all forms of autism disorders, with a special sensory room and other features.

And the venture, which the leaseholders plan to operate as a social enterprise with charitable status, also aims to offer employment to people on the spectrum and their carers and to educate other local businesses about becoming more autism friendly.

It is the brainchild of Mel Lingwood and her partner Steven Wilkins from East Wemyss and was inspired by Mel’s son Owen Hardstaff, now 19, and the couple’s daughter Xanthe (3), who are both on the autistic spectrum, which can make it difficult for the family to eat out in regular restaurants.

It will operate from the former Cake Corner premises, and the couple, with a dedicated band of helpers, are currently running a crowdfunding venture to raise money for a range of special equipment for the sensory room.

They want to raise £1200 to kit it out with LED lights, toys, a star projector and soft furnishings to create a safe space where children and adults can go to get away from the cafe atmosphere to a quiet place where they can chill out.

The cafe itself will have booth seating with headphone sockets and power points for other devices, lighting with dimmer switches, sectional plates and a choice of menus, with “fiddle” toys at each table.

Mel said: “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for about ten years and now seems the right time to do it.

“It will be for everyone, not just people with autism.

“We would love to have an opening event before Christmas and we have everything ready to go as soon as possible, but we don’t have a final date yet.

“I want to thank all our friends, family and supporters for their support with this.”

To help with the fundraising, visit: www.justgiving/crowdfunding/autasty.