An innovative £2 million scheme to create the UK’s first hotel for young people with autism and learning difficulties has been given the green light by Gateshead Council.
The St Camillus Care Group was last week granted planning permission to transform the former Rivers Edge Hotel at Gateshead into The Vault, which will not only provide respite care for young people with a range of learning difficulties but will also train them to work within the hospitality industry.
Initially 20 jobs will be created to carry out the refurbishment, with 30 jobs within the hotel when it is opened in October.
Already the ground floor of the hotel is operating as an American-style diner which is currently used by people with autism, but the hope is that eventually this will be open to the public. The hotel also has a function room which is currently used by groups, with a long term aim of this being available for hire for business meetings and celebrations.
Work will now begin on transforming the 28 bedrooms to make them suitable for respite care, while training has already begun on giving young people with autism and learning difficulties the opportunity to work alongside trained staff.
St Camillus Care Group has partnered with Gateshead College and its Project Choice scheme – which helps young people with autism and learning difficulties find internships – to help the young people learn the skills they need for a career in hospitality. John Heron, Managing Director of St Camillus Care Group, said The Vault was giving young people an unprecedented opportunity for a career in hospitality.
“This is a real chance for young people aged from 18 to 25 to learn alongside professionals in the hospitality industry in a real setting, so that they can hopefully go on to a full time career,” he said.
“At the same time it’s also a place for people with autism and learning difficulties to come to and enjoy the facilities.
“In particular the diner is a great place for families who may have young people with these challenges, knowing that they can come to a restaurant where people understand them and make no judgements.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to progress what is going to be an exciting opportunity and a first not just for the North East but for the UK.”