A woman who lost her grandmother in the same month her son was diagnosed with autism, triggering her depression, is now running a cafe which supports people with autism.
Deniece Dixon received the life-changing news about her grandmother and son in 2012.
She said: “When my son got diagnosed, it changed our lives and within the same month, I lost my grandmother.
“If it wasn’t for my son, my husband and I never would have started this business.
“Now I need people to learn about autism and how it affects people everyday.
“There is so much ignorance around autism and a lot of people don’t know what terminology to use.”
Cafe Conscious, a cosy venue, first opened in 2013 as a vegan Jamaican cafe and now hosts autism support groups through Deniece’s new business initiative, Cafe In The Hill C.I.C..
Deniece Dixon(Image: Rema Mukena/Bristol Live) Deniece and her partner, Wayne Dixon, have been running the business together since 2013 and haven’t looked back since.
After opening as the first ever vegan organic Jamaican restaurant in Bristol they soon felt as though there wasn’t a big enough market in the city at the time. They developed their menu over the years and began selling meat based dishes, but noticed in more recent years their vegan clientele has actually increased rapidly.
She says the catalyst for the restaurant opening was when she fell into a pit of depression and her body “just shut down”.
She began to lose her hair and couldn’t get out of bed. But, one day she got a phone call from her daughter’s school in which they informed Deniece that her daughter thought she had cancer because she had been losing her hair.
She said, for her that was the “wake up call” she needed.
“For so long, I just couldn’t think. But then I realised ‘I have to get up and do something for my kids’,” she said.
“I used to drive past this place when it was a charity and say ‘This is gonna be mine one day’ and it was.
Cafe Conscious(Image: Rema Mukena/Bristol Live) “My six children and I and my partner lived out of two rooms in our house for about six months and filled the entire house with furniture from eBay, Gumtree and various other sites for the new cafe.
“We began buying furniture before we even had the place, but knew we would get it. Everything just fell into place. It was meant to be.
“Coming out of depression I created this place. There was no vision. There was no business plan or funding.
“Now this cafe is ours and I use it to help my community as much as possible. Whatever they need, we help them with – cos that’s what it’s about.”
Cafe Conscious has also joined many other hospitality venues in the city with providing children with free school meals during the half term break.
To mark Black History Month, Bristol Live is shining the spotlight on Black-led businesses across the city. We aim to cover everything from the importance of representation, the impact on their communities and the effects of the pandemic on their businesses. If you know of a Black owned business that should be featured, let us know.
While highlighting these businesses, we recognise that it’s important that we represent Black people within the media all year round and not just during one month of the year