Construction has begun on a site in Inverness to develop Scotland’s first multi-purpose center for young people with learning disabilities and complex needs.
The long-awaited £4.1million Haven Center in Smithton will include three two-bedroom respite apartments for young adults up to the age of 30, a specialist indoor play center with childcare facilities children, a community café, meeting spaces and an outdoor garden.
The main contractor, Compass Building and Construction Services, expects construction of the pioneering facility to take approximately 12 months.
The project is supported by the Elsie Normington Foundation, created in 2013.
President Elsie Normington said the start of construction marked an important step in the journey to make the center a reality.
“The Haven Center is not only indispensable, but it will change the lives of children and young adults with severe learning disabilities and their families,” she said.
“To get to this point is truly phenomenal and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of our generous fundraisers and donors and I want to personally thank everyone who has helped us on our journey so far.”
The project has received support from the Scottish Government, the National Lottery Community Fund and the Highland Council.
Kate Still, Scottish Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund, said this was a historic moment not only for the Elsie Normington Foundation, its partners and the local community, but also for all children, young people and young people. families who would continue to benefit from the new community asset.
“National Lottery players can take pride in knowing that the money they raise by buying tickets will leave an indelible mark on the lives of those with multiple and complex needs,” she said.
“Through his work, this project will also increase employment and volunteer opportunities, which will help the local community thrive.”
The pioneer center is being built on a Murray Road site previously occupied by Culloden Court Care Home which was destroyed by fire in 2010.
Politicians expressing their joy at the start of the work include Kate Forbes, Scotland’s Finance Secretary and MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.
“I am absolutely thrilled with the progress Project Haven has made, and bringing the project together is the result of years of hard work, vision and leadership from the team,” he said. she declared.
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government was able to provide significant funding to make this a reality, but all the bake sales, wild swims and other fundraisers have been equally essential to make this happen.
“I recognize that there is still some way to go until the Haven is both built and fully operational, but this is an important and extremely welcome step and I congratulate everyone involved. .”
The MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Drew Hendry, also congratulated the foundation on the start of construction of the centre.
“This project has been in the works for a long time, and a lot of heart and soul has been invested in getting it off the ground,” he said.
“Once the work is complete and the center opens, it will be the first such center in all of Scotland.
“We in the Highlands have a long reputation for being caring and compassionate, and initiatives such as the Haven Center are testament to that.
“I think one of the lessons we’ve all learned during the pandemic is that respite from the stresses of our lives is incredibly important in today’s world, and that’s something we should embrace.
“As we recover and rebuild, it’s fantastic to see programs with this message at the heart of what they do, like this, come to life.”
Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing hailed the “determined and dedicated hard work” of everyone involved and said they should be extremely proud to have reached a milestone moment.
The center will be operated by the Elsie Normington Foundation in partnership with other service providers.
Key Community Supports will be the respite dish partner.
The foundation also hopes in the coming months to formalize agreements with Inverness’ Special Needs Action Project (SNAP) regarding the provision of play services for the specialist play centre.
Donald Robertson, Chairman of the Board of SNAP, said: “SNAP is ready for this next step in the evolution of the services we provide to children and young people with severe and complex needs in the Highlands and we look forward to to work with the Elsie Normington Foundation.”
Fundraising continues through the foundation to support operational costs and improve services at the Haven Centre.
Finalized plans to exhibit