This hotel designed for people with autism is one of the first of its kind.

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.”

Some of The Vault trainees. Image via The Mighty.

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.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."