How Kettering 'cafe with a purpose' is helping the most vulnerable

Profits will be used to help fund legal work for those who need it most

By Sam Wildman
Monday, 6th June 2022, 3:20 pm
The cafe's launch event last month.
The cafe's launch event last month.

Kettering has many cafes, but none of them are quite like The Queen Kayley Victorian Tearoom.

The unique venue at The Yards, which was officially opened by Kettering mayor Cllr Keli Watts last month, provides an inclusive space for those with neurodivergent conditions.

And profits from the cafe go towards funding pro bono legal work for those who are vulnerable and need it most.

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It’s the brainchild of lawyer Adam Cresswell and nurse Nicki Slawson, who formed ethical social care legal firm The Lawyer & The Nurse which launched last year.

Nicki described the tearoom as a ‘cafe with a purpose’.

She said: “The cafe is an inclusive space where everyone is welcome and where families affected by autism, ADHD and other neurodivergent conditions can come as a family and enjoy and afternoon tea without fear of judgement.”

Adam said that having to turn away clients who couldn’t pay for legal services at a law firm motivated his move with Nicki to widen access to help with dealing the official side of life.

Money made by the cafe will be used to fund their work to help those who are applying for benefits or healthcare funding, appealing decisions and supporting SEN (special educational needs) children.

Adam said: “Having worked within firms of solicitors for more than 20 years it never sat well with me having to turn away people who needed help the most, but who could not afford to instruct a firm of solicitors which can cost up to £250 an hour.

"We want to provide help for free to as many people as possible within the areas in which we work.

"Financial gatekeeping people’s access to help is the single biggest barrier to access to justice and we intend that The Lawyer & The Nurse can help address that for the most vulnerable – we hope to be rather like a Citizens Advice powered by afternoon tea, social events and parties.”

Just off the main dining room of the cafe, which is decorated in the style of a Victorian tearoom, is a sensory dining area.

It’s designed specifically for families with members who struggle with sensory overload in busy settings – with the aim of allowing families to eat together away from home which for some can be a rare treat.

Nicki said: “Having worked within the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) community for years as a mental health nurse I know that offering those with autism small adjustments – such as letting them bring their own cutlery, accommodating specific food requirements or letting a parent prepare their food – can make the difference between being able to go out and always being restricted to eating at home as a family.”

The quirky venue hopes to be the backdrop for children’s birthday parties, again with an emphasis on inclusion. Children can have their own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party or Roald Dahl themed event, whether they are neurodivergent or not.

The tearoom is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays for tea, coffee, cream teas and afternoon teas. The cafe says that if any neurodivergent visitors require something different on their afternoon tea stand they can, with a little notice, make sure everyone can join in.