Sunderland guest house creates play room for autistic guests
B&B business bosses have set up an autism room so families can make a getaway of their own.
The Acorn Guest House in Mowbray Road now has a space kitted out with toys, sensory equipment and items which those who are on the autistic spectrum find soothing.
Owners Vikki and Steve Wright came up with the idea as their nephew Jack, six, has autism and they knew he and others would benefit from having their own space when away from home.
The couple, who are parents to Katie, 15, and Adam, six, have run the business for more than four years after taking on the venture.
Vikki, 44, who previously worked as a supply chain manager before taking on the city centre business, said: “We had a small room, but it wasn’t used for anything and we have been working with a local charity Inspire Autism Specialists.
“We’re part of the Inspire Network and we got talking and I mentioned this is what I wanted to do, but needed advice on how to do it.
“They came around and see what they thought, at the shape of the room and how we could make it autism-friendly.
“The room isn’t very big, which suits its purpose, and it has sensory toys, we have some different coloured lights with special bulbs.
“The toys will also be there for them to take to their rooms if they want.
“We’re also going to have a small board in there with zips and latches and different things on it, which we know can be good for someone with autism.”
She added: “We know our nephew would really make use of it and by children his age.
“Jack made us think about what his situation would be and what about other visitors.
“We thought about whether he and his family could go and stay somewhere and when we looked into it, nobody catered for it, so we said let’s start.
“We want to make sure people will feel welcome.”
Vikki and Steve, who worked as a buyer for Rolls Royce, are helped in running the guest house by Vikki’s mum Linda Hurst, 64.
The guest house has seven rooms available to customers, including family rooms, doubles, a twin and single.