This story was originally published on The Mighty.
Vacations are great, but traveling can be especially stressful for people with sensory sensitivities who require certain accommodations to truly enjoy their holiday.
Enter The Vault, a new hotel in Gateshead, England, that understands the needs of the autism community and is prepared to make accommodations in a facility for and staffed by people with autism spectrum disorder.
The Vault, owned and operated by the St. Camillus Care Group, is one of the first hotels of its kind. In the United States, there are some “autism-friendly” hotels and hotels committed to hiring people on the spectrum, but there are no establishments designed specifically for training, hiring, or housing people with autism.
“The concept has been over a year in the making and stems from a shared vested interest in this field,” Darren Wilson, The Vault’s director of housing, health, and care told The Mighty. Wilson, who has 14 years of experience working in adult social care and housing, works with The Vault’s managing director, John Heron — who has successfully run several businesses despite his own learning disabilities — to make the group’s dream a reality.
“My driving passion is to offer people with autism and learning disabilities something different, but most importantly meaningful, that pushes the boundaries that have been placed around them by mainstream services,” Wilson said. “We are immensely proud of the trainees we have worked with to date and their dedication and commitment validates our overall plan for the business.”
The cornerstone of The Vault’s mission is to hire people on the spectrum as well as others with learning disabilities.
“Our overall goal is to have potential employees assessed so that we are able to appropriately meet their employability needs,” Wilson said. These paid positions will focus on the different hospitality services offered by the hotel, including computer literacy, art, design, and those skills needed to work in a restaurant.
Each trainee at The Vault receives comprehensive training and support.
“[Training is] important to us because we believe that people with autism can become outstanding employees,” Wilson said. “We want to build a service that showcases the outstanding but often hidden talent people with autism and learning difficulties possess.”
Wilson hopes to train up to 28 employees through the program each year.
Rooms at The Vault are currently being revamped to accommodate the needs of those on the spectrum. While rooms are not available yet, Wilson anticipates guests will be able to stay at the hotel starting early this fall. In the meantime, The Vault is open to visitors who wish to eat at the establishment’s American-themed diner or visit their entertainment facilities — both of which make accommodations for people with special needs.