Brighton’s first deaf café – open to all – to hold official launch this month

Posted On 02 Oct 2016 at 5:28 pm

A “deaf” café is to open in Brighton this month. It will be the first sign language venue of its kind in the city.

Dottie’s Café, in East Brighton Park, in Wilson Avenue, will be run by deaf staff and sign interpreters and will be open to everyone.

The team behind the concept prefer the term “signing community café” and emphasise that all are welcome.

The menu will include audio descriptions and braille – and food can be ordered by customers verbally or using British Sign Language (BSL).
The not-for-profit café opened a few weeks ago with a minimal menu but it has its official opening on Saturday 15 October with its full menu and facilities.

The free event will run from 10am to 4pm and will include face painting, a dog show, deaf bikers, a bouncy castle – and the mayor Councillor Pete West will be attending.

In the evening there will be an exclusive VIP launch party which will feature a pop-up chef providing a three-course meal. Tickets for the evening event will be £20 and can be bought at the café.

Dottie's deaf café

Dottie’s deaf café

Ruthanne Garrett, a member of the community interest company that set the café up, said: “The café was created with the purpose of raising awareness of and making deafness less scary for hearing people. Deaf people have opened the café to help the community.

“We plan to set up a local tourist information area, run courses for children who are currently not in school, have space available for those who home educate their children and run a range of courses including BSL, driving theory, English and computing skills in BSL.

“There is also a wellbeing room which charities and community groups can use throughout the month, including debt charities, signing hairdressers and reiki healers.”
Community office manager Stephanie Hajebi said: “Dottie’s Café is doing so well and the community is fantastic.

“We had a lot of customers who are very excited about the café and its community. The local community has been very generous with donations of items and time. We have had a few volunteers come in to help freshen up the building with a lick of paint.”

There are currently eight paid staff at the café and a group of volunteers. Cupcake Shake, a business run by local teenagers, will have an outlet within Dottie’s which will provide work experience opportunities for teenagers.

More than 30 sixth-formers from Hamilton Lodge, the Brighton school and college for deaf children, recently helped to decorate the café.

Inside Dottie's deaf café with, from left, Roger Griffiths, James Moffatt, Jonathan Hajebi, Karen Edwards, Steph Hajebi and Holly Ferrie

Inside Dottie’s deaf café with, from left, Roger Griffiths, James Moffatt, Jonathan Hajebi, Karen Edwards, Steph Hajebi and Holly Ferrie

The café welcomes volunteers with hearing or additional needs and it has a support worker available daily to ensure all volunteers are supported.

Mrs Hajebi said that the café would provide “high-quality, delicious food and drink while looking at ways to address food poverty and reduce food waste within the city”.

She said: “We are working with the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership to look at providing healthy, low-cost meals at weekends for the community. There will also be one low-cost meal on the menu every day during the week.”

Café staff and volunteers are currently fundraising for kitchen equipment, crockery and furniture and have raised £282 on their crowdfunding page so far. They hope to raise £7,500 in total.

Jonathan Hajebi at Dottie's deaf cafe

Jonathan Hajebi at Dottie’s deaf cafe

Customers of the café have praised its work, with one saying: “The staff here are very kind and have such exciting ideas for the café. For example, they thought it would be great to have basic signs in photo frames so customers can try to sign to the deaf employees.”

Mrs Hajebi said that Dottie’s Café motto was: “To be the ‘in crowd’ that everyone is welcome to be in.”

  1. bob pendlebury Reply

    Fantastic and wish them every success…I myself am deaf in my left ear caused by an industrial incident in the 1960’s.

    Know just how frustrating it can be…for example answering the phone!


  2. Dee Reply

    Think this sounds amazing but I wonder about the name as with audio & braille menus available, this is terrific for those with sight loss.

    Wishing you every success.

  3. Nan Reply

    Congratulations! Bring one to Bognor Regis. When we moved here in 2013 there was a group attached to Age uk but by the time we came to join it had been disbanned. Nothing else similar in this area.

  4. Nefeissa Latif Reply

    A Lovely idea .
    Will pass by and check you out
    I am a reflexologist/ massage therapist and do low cost treatment in the community and regularly involved charitable events .
    If that’s something you maybe interested in please email me .

  5. Valerie Mainstone Reply

    I am hard-of-hearing and although I am not around on 15 October, I wish Dottie’s cafe all the best, and hope to get there in November. I am particularly interested in signing courses, as I am currently in between, i.e. unable to hear well and yet unable to sign.

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