Plans for a new centre for disabled young people have been handed a £1.75 million Holyrood boost.
The cash award has topped up the £2m already secured by the the Elsie Normington Foundation, the charity behind the Haven Centre project.
The centre 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.
The project will create around 50 jobs during the construction phase and around 30 jobs once the centre is operational.
Founder Mrs 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.”
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.”
The Elsie Normington Foundation lodged plans with Highland Council in December 2019 and was awarded planning permission last April.
The scheme will go out to tender in the coming weeks.
The centre will be built on a derelict site in the Smithton area of Inverness.
It will support people across the Highlands –where there are 1,679 children with additional needs in school and 722 children who are registered disabled.
It is proposed to build three two-bedroomed respite houses, a community cafe to be run as a community enterprise, specialist indoor and outdoor play centres, as well as ofﬁce space, meeting spaces and a community garden.
In July The Haven centre received a “game-changing” £1.1m grant from the Big Lottery Community Fund.