Social inclusion, Youth participation and empowerment

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Creating a popup café offering training and work experience to young people and adults with neurodiversity characteristics


Who is behind this?





Idea pitch

The SMILE pop-up Café aims to be a showcase of integration of people with challenges in a working environment.
It will be a pleasant and cozy place offering coffee and a variety of snacks. The employees will be young neurodiverse adults from 18 to 25 years old and they will run most operations, from working in the kitchen preparingsnacks to serving the customers, organizing provisions under the guidance and the supervision of specialized educators and catering professionals

Where will your project idea take place?

Athens Greece

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

People with neurodiverse caracteristics are often subject to stigma and discrimination, including unjust deprivation of health care, education and opportunities to engage and participate in their communities.
One of the biggest challenge they must face is the prejudice due to the lack of information and profound misunderstanding society has about neurodiverse people.
This challenge also consists to change this vision and to prove that neurodiverse people have their place in the society as fully productive and equal persons with the same rights as all of us.
Awareness and information is the key to this path, in order to change the view of society.

Who are you doing it for?

The incidence of autism is now 1 in 42 among boys and 1 in 189 among girls. Neurodiverse people have special abilities that can be a big advantage in the work environment. At the same time, they can prove that with the right guidance they can integrate and be productive.
Many neurodiverse people have extraordinary skills, including in pattern recognition, memory, and mathematics. Yet they often struggle to fit the profiles sought by employers.
They are also very procedurally oriented; they like to see a step-by-step process where they can excell.
Parents and families of neurodiverse people are often isolated and anxious about the future of their relatives. Through our project we aim to prove them there is hope in order to mobilize them to be a part of the solution.

How do you plan to get there?

The SMILE pop-up Café project will have a 3 months duration involving two coordinators, one trainer and one therapist. The location will be in the center of the city of Athens and will be able to host up to 40 people.
During the first month, we will recruit a 10 person’s team as well as the trainer Chef and the supporting therapist. We will select the location, set up the equipment and purchase the supplies.
The first month will be also dedicated to the team training on the different work packages and the operations of the SMILE Café. They will learn how to make professional coffee, how to compose the sandwiches, the pizzas and the salads, how to take orders and serve, how to organize the provisions and clean the machines and the room.
The SMILE Café will open its doors during the second and the third month and the team will be ready to run its business in real conditions. They will a have the opportunity to host their customers and apply their knowledge. From the profit of the sales, they will renew the provisions and they will perceive a salary on equal basis plus tips, while having social assurance.
At the end of the project, each member of the team will evaluate his experience with the supervisor and the therapist. A group evaluation will also be held. The coordinators will establish a final report.

What are the expected results?

We will have proposed a sustainable way for neurodiversity people to make money to support themselves just like the rest of us. Having a job where you’re dealing with the community is great training for them.
Professionals of the HORECA sector will be convinced that they should consider a more inclusive recruitment and benefit the special abilities of neurodiverse people in their businesses.
Public bodies should be informed in order to increase the commitment of governments to taking action to improve the quality of life of people with neurodiverse caracteristics and promote inclusive and enabling environments for them.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Community members will be able to contribute to the societal dialogue by choosing the SMILE Café for their coffee or lunch break and create a communication channel for better understanding of neurodiverse people.
They will have an opportunity to change their vision and be convinced that neurodiverse people have their place in the society as fully productive and equal persons with the same rights as all of us.

Why is this idea important to you?

The Chefs Brigade Slow Food aims
To contribute to the social integration of vulnerable population through professional integration in the rapidly expanding HORECA sector in demand for manpower in Greece
To propose professional training, accessible and adapted to vulnerable populations –people with neurodiversity characteristics, in the foodservice and agri-food production sectors by experienced professionals
To contribute to the social integration of vulnerable population:, through professional integration in the rapidly expanding HORECA sector in demand for manpower in Greece

€ 44700,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

local rental: 9000 E
coordinator 1: 6000E
coordinator 2: 6000E
office expenses: 3000E
equipement: 6000E
communication: 3000E
therapist: 4500E
trainer: 7200E

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Any feedback, collaboration proposal, networking, exchange of good practices and ideas is more than welcome!




Idea created on April 26, 2021

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