THE group behind the first hotel in the North East to train young people with autism and learning difficulties has scooped an award for its work to support disabled people in the region.

St Camillus Care Group, which runs the Rivers Hotel in Gateshead, won the Organisations Supporting Disabled People into Employment category at the Equality North East awards, held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead on Thursday night (19 October).

St Camillus Care Group took over the building late last year with the aim of creating a training facility for young people with learning difficulties and autism.

The hotel, formerly known as The Vault, gives the youngsters a chance to gain real, valuable experience of every aspect of the hospitality industry, utilising the 28-bedroom hotel with its American-style diner and large function room to learn everything from front-of-house management to catering.

Not only do the young people get the chance to learn on the job, many have subsequently gone on to gain full time, paid employment.

The Rivers Hotel was officially opened by Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr earlier this month, who was impressed with the facilities on offer along with the high standard of training.

Now it has been named among the winners in the 14th Equality North East Awards, which highlight and celebrate the best equality practice being carried out across the region.

St Camillus impressed the judging panel with its work supporting people with disabilities and learning difficulties, and helping them on the path to finding jobs.

John Heron, managing director at St Camillus Care Group was delighted with the accolade.

“This award is a fantastic boost to everyone involved with the Rivers Hotel, and comes at a very exciting time for us,” he said. “We officially launched just a couple of weeks ago and the team is going from strength to strength.

“To win this award is the icing on the cake, and is testament to the incredible work our team is doing. Everyone has been working tirelessly for the last 12 months to bring this project to fruition, and we have already helped dozens of youngsters gain insight into the world of work.

“As a group, we want to continue to deliver this very high quality of training to our young people, and I’m proud of everyone involved with the Rivers Hotel for their hard work and commitment.”