UK’s first hotel for young people with autism set to open in Gateshead

A Gateshead1 hotel is set to be transformed into the UK s first hotel for young people with autism and learning difficulties in a 2m scheme. The St Camillus Care Group took over the River s Edge Hotel formerly known as the Elephant on the Tyne earlier this year, setting to work on changing the venue s use to a hub for people with autism. Those plans have now come to fruition after they were granted planning permission to transform the hotel 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.

The firm is initially creating 20 jobs to carry out the refurbishment and a further 30 will be created within the hotel when it is opened in October. The ground floor of the hotel is already 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.

UK's First Hotel For Young People With Autism Set To Open In Gateshead John Heron, managing director of St Camillus Care Group with some of the team at The Vault

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 College2 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.

He said: 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.

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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. Prior to closing as the River s Edge Hotel, the venue served as a wedding reception venue. After coming under new ownership several couples were left searching for new venues, but directors at St Camillus Care Group who were not aware of the bookings

paid out around 10,000 to couples faced with finding new venues for their receptions as a gesture of goodwill.


  1. ^ Gateshead (
  2. ^ with Gateshead College (

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