Removing architectural barriers and inventing ad-hoc training projects are the tools we use more and more often to reduce the gap that exists in our society, including that between the disabled and those who had more luck in their lives. Admirable initiatives and policies, however, are not enough to achieve the final goal, that is, to allow those born with severe motor and cognitive deficits to lead a ‘‘normal’’ life. Our existence, in fact, is a puzzle with many facets and needs. Many of the latter concern to work, that is, to our daily routine, other concern moments of leisure.
Just think of the holidays. Travelling is a wonderful experience that enriches and restores energy. A time to devote to ourselves and to our loved ones, however, can be particularly stressful for people suffering from mental disorders such as autism. To relax and fully enjoy the holidays, these people need a comfortable environment designed for them. To meet these needs, the Saint Camilus Care Group, a British organization that assists people with this disease, discovered the River’s Edge in Gateshead, a hotel with 28 rooms located in the north of England, which is becoming the first hotel the country reserved for autistic clients. The Vault (this is the name of the structure, which is expected to open in October) is designed and fit to host people with autism and learning disabilities.
“We have been committed to this project for over a year now. It was born from a common commitment” Darren Wilson tells The Mighty. He has been working in social services for 14 years now and is going to take care of the sector “Housing, Health and Care “of “The Vault “(as they call the hotel). “What moves me is desire to offer these people something different and to remove those boundaries that are normally erected around them in traditional hotels,” adds Wilson, who will work alongside director John Heron, who successfully leads different structures, although he himself suffers from a learning disability.
“The Vault” project is not engaged only in hospitality. “We will give young people between 18 and 25 years of age possibilities they have never seen before – explains Heron -. They can find a cozy place for them here and they can learn to work alongside experienced staff, in a real environment, with the hope they can start a career in this field.”
The training to work for The Vault (which lasts 50 weeks) was open also to people with autism spectrum disorders or other cognitive disabilities. A real slap to the marginalization to which these people are forced by the indifference of our society.
Trainees will learn to work in the kitchen, together with the chef, to decide the menu and prepare the dishes, as well as to serve the customers. At the bar, or enjoy an evening, they will develop skills in care and in the administration. For some of them, at the end of the training period the doors of the hotel will open with a full-time job and paid shifts from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., including weekends and some holidays. “We are immensely proud of the trainees we have worked with so far and their dedication and commitment validates our global plan for the business,” adds Wilson. Training – he concludes -, is important because it allows to meet people “with an exceptional talent who cannot emerge because of the disease that afflicts them.”