Project information

Talking Shop Contact Centre

At Autism Plus we always think big, and Talking Shop is our biggest idea yet. It is a contact centre employing people with ASD, disabilities and other complex conditions. By providing training and paid employment to over 130 people we are making a massive difference to many peoples' lives.


Charity information

Autism Plus

Autism Plus logo
  • Need


    Exact figures as to the numbers of people with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) condition in the UK are currently unknown. But a recent study in South Korea found that 1 in 38 children had ASD. This would suggest that 1,638,473 people in the UK are ASD. Research has found that only 6% of adults with autism are in full-time employment. While for many people with autism work will never be an option, there are others who are missing out. We want to address this through the Talking Shop.


    People with Autism want to have the same things as you or I – meaningful activities and the chance to use their skills, to earn and pay their way. The Talking Shop provides a comprehensive range of services designed to help each individual. Progression in developing skills, confidence, quality of life and the chance to earn a living are major steps forward. Talking Shop builds on individual abilities in an environment that understands and supports people to take control of their lives.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To establish a contact centre in Sheffield during 2011.


    » We will establish a contact centre base in a historic but currently vacant building in central Sheffield.
    » We will recruit and train people with ASD conditions, disabilities and other complex conditions to work in the Talking Shop Enterprise.
    » Deliver a range of other services to support people with ASD condtions in a holistic and supportive environment.

    The Talking Shop Enterprise initally employing 30 people with service contracts from local businesses as a self-sustaining social enterprise.

  • Impact


    In year 1 Talking Shop Enterprise will see 23 jobs created in year 1 and 308 by year 4. But it is the outcomes that are more important as people with ASD will have increased independence, confidence, skills and employability. We use the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) Evaluation Network (10 Quality Outcomes) and use a Person Centred Planning (PCP) approach. Using these methods we measure the impact that the Talking Shop has had on the life's of every individual we support.


    Our biggest risk is securing the funds to start the project. We have mitigated for this by developing a fundraising strategy that breaks down the project into different elements. Through support from corporate partners, private trusts and individual giving we will be able to meet our target. With funds already committed we have the initial support that any project needs. We have already secured one firm deal with a customer and many more are in the pipeline so showing demand for the service.


    We can tailor reports to individual needs, but the phone system will use a computerised reporting system recording numbers of callers, the nature and outcomes. Regular reports on statistics, numbers employed and in training will also be monitored as part of our Key Performance Inidicators.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £150,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £100,000 Refurbishment Refurbishment of the office space needed for the opeartors
      £50,000 Phone system Purchase and installation of he phone system
  • Background


    Bridge Street in central Sheffield is home to the Exchange Brewery. Dating from 1852 the building has an iconic presence. Brewing was a major industry in Sheffield. This means that it is a significant historic building in the City. The building is currently vacant, but we are bringing it back into usage. Because it is in a central city location we can take advantage of excellent public transport systems. Train and tram are nearby and all major bus routes are within metres of the building.


    At present Autism Plus supports 276 direct beneficiaries, with 131 people being supported through our core support services. But we want do so much more and by delivering the Talking Shop project we will be able to increase our provision to reach out to an estimated 21,055 people in Doncaster and Sheffield who have an ASD condition. The work we do is all about building confidence and so we will be helping to increase the 6% of people with ASD who are in full time employment.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    With a 25 year history we have a reputation for consistent quality. We play an ever increasing role in the provision of services to people with complex conditions. We are stringent in our monitoring and quality controls of every aspect of our service. We have grown from 40 employees to over 300 in 5 years because commissioners recognise the effectiveness of our approach. We are at the forefront of autism support in the North of England.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Philip Bartey

    As Chief Executive of Autism Plus, Philip Bartey will work with our trustees and board to give the project the strategic drive it requires.

    Craig Sutherland

    As Director of Development, Craig has developed the business plan for the Talking Shop Enterprise in partnership with our Director of Operations.

    John Whaling

    As Project Manager for the Talking Shop, John has experience of project management through his directorship of Sheffield Insulations Group a major PLC

    Mark Burton

    As Corporate and Trust Fundraiser, Mark will ensure that the project will become sustainable through ongoing corporate and company partnerships.

When I saw the work that Autism Plus does I was moved by the way they really work hard to help each individual to do what they want to do.

Simon Weston, OBE