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Politicians put differences aside to support vision of innovative centre in Highland capital for children and young people with complex needs

By Staff Reporter

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Haven Appeal representatives meet MSPs at Holyrood.
Haven Appeal representatives meet MSPs at Holyrood.

POLITICIANS in the Highlands have put aside their differences in a united show of support for an ambitious appeal to develop Scotland’s first multi-purpose centre for children and young people with severe learning disabilities.

MSPs from the Conservative, SNP and Labour parties attended a cross-party event at the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness for the £4 million Haven Appeal.

A site has been identified at Smithton in Inverness for the Haven Centre which will include respite houses, a community cafe and garden, specialist play areas and meeting spaces.

It provide support to children and young people up to the age of the 30.

The appeal, which has already secured £1.3 million, was launched by the Elsie Normington Foundation.

Founder Elsie Normington said: “I was delighted when MSPs from across the political spectrum agreed to back the Haven Appeal.

"I am confident that this support will open new doors for us and will help us to raise the £4 million which we require before building can commence.”

The gathering at Holyrood was co-ordinated by Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain.

“The Haven Appeal is a worthy cause and I am delighted that as Highland MSPs we can stand together, putting politics aside, to show our support for the project," he said.

"The Haven Centre promises to dramatically improve the lives of children and young people with complex needs and it will be a facility that is the first of its kind.

"It is crucial that all MSPs from the Highlands continue to raise awareness and support the fundraising endeavours of the Haven Appeal.”

Mr Mountain was joined by fellow Conservative Donald Cameron, SNP MSPs Fergus Ewing, Kate Forbes and Maree Todd and Labour's David Stewart.

Mr Stewart said he was delighted to attend the cross-party meeting.

"Their ambitious plans to build a multi-purpose facility in Inverness for children and young people with severe learning disabilities including respite facilities, a play centre and a community café is to be welcome,” he said.

“This facility once built will benefit many local children and families and I would encourage everyone to do what they can to support this appeal to raise the necessary £4million”.

The Haven Centre is set to transform a derelict site once occupied by the Culloden Court Nursing Home until it was destroyed by a fire in October 2010.

For more information about the appeal go to http://havenappeal.org/

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