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Delight at approval of £1.75m funding to support new Haven centre for disabled young people in Highlands

By Val Sweeney

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Elsie Normington with other members of the Haven Appeal at the site for the planned centre in Smithton.
Elsie Normington with other members of the Haven Appeal at the site for the planned centre in Smithton.

An ambitious project to develop Scotland’s first integrated centre for young people with learning disabilities and complex needs in the Highlands has taken a massive step forward with the Scottish Government approving funding of up to £1.75 million.

Ministers committed government capital funding for the Haven Centre in Inverness, a project run by charity the Elsie Normington Foundation.

It will enable a start to be made on the centre which will be a multi-purpose facility for disabled children and young people comprising respite flats, an indoor and outdoor play centre, childcare facilities and a community café.

Backers of the scheme have said it is for the Highlands and support from Ross-shire for the project has been forthcoming.

It will be built on a derelict site in Murray Road, Smithton.

The project will create around 50 jobs during the construction phase and around 30 jobs once the centre is operational.

The foundation has been successful in securing funds of over £2 million to date and this award from Scottish Government will enable them to meet their funding target and begin construction.

The foundation will continue to pursue funding applications which, if successful, will reduce Scottish Government’s contribution.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: "The Haven Centre will be a welcome addition to support for disabled children, young people and their families in the Highlands.

"The new facilities will bring many other community benefits and I am very pleased the Scottish Government has been able to support this project.”

Elsie Normington said: "I am thrilled that the Scottish Government has pledged its full support for the construction of the Haven Centre, enabling us to start building this year.

"When my own son, Andrew, was growing up, this was the centre I wish had existed for him.

"For the next generation of children with learning disabilities and complex needs, the Haven Centre will be a place where young people can get together and have fun in a building that suits their needs.

"This pledge validates all the hours of work, and thousands of generous donations from across our community, over the last eight years.

"We wish to thank the Scottish Government, and every other organisation and individual who has supported the project in getting to this stage.

"This is just the beginning, and we hope you’ll stay with us on this exciting journey."

Related story: Call for Government backing of centre

Ministers urged to back plans for 'fantastic' centre

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