Elsie Normington Foundation

Work beings on the Haven Centre

The construction of the much-anticipated Haven Centre has now begun in Inverness. Principal contractors, Compass Building and Construction Services who have been appointed to lead the £4.1 million project, expect the build to last approximately 12 months. When complete, the Haven Centre will comprise three two-bedroom respite flats for young adults up to the age of 30, an indoor specialist play centre with childcare facilities, a community café, meeting spaces and outdoor garden.


Elsie Normington, chair and founder of the Elsie Normington Foundation said: “The start of construction marks another significant milestone in our journey to make the Haven Centre a reality. The Haven Centre is not only much needed but will be life changing for children and young adults with severe learning disabilities and their families. To get to this stage is truly phenomenal and it would not be possible without the support of our generous fundraisers and donors and I would like to personally thank everyone who has helped us on our journey so far. We are looking forward to working with Compass Building and Construction Services on this exciting project over the next 12 months as we see our vision become a reality.”


The Elsie Normington Foundation was set up as a charity in May 2013 to raise funds to build the Haven Centre and recently reached its fundraising target of £4 million. The project has received support from the Scottish Government, The National Lottery Community Fund and Highland Council.


Kate Still, Scotland Chair of the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Today is a landmark moment, not just for the Elsie Normington Foundation, it’s partners and the local community, but also for all of those children, young people and families who will go on to benefit from this new community asset. National Lottery players can feel proud to know that money they raise by buying tickets will make an indelible mark on the lives of those with multiple and complex needs. Through its work, this project will also increase employment and volunteering opportunities which will help the local community to thrive.”


Kate Forbes MSP said: “I am absolutely delighted with the progress The Haven project has made, and getting a spade in the ground is the result of years of hard work, vision and leadership from the team.


I’m pleased that the Scottish Government has been able to provide significant funding to make this a reality – but all of the bake sales, wild swims and other fundraisers were just as critical in getting to this point.


I recognise there’s still a little bit to go until The Haven is both built and fully operational, but this is a significant and hugely welcome milestone and I congratulate everyone involved.” Drew Hendry MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, also echoed his support for this much need facility and said “I am delighted to be able to congratulate the Elsie Normington Foundation on the beginning of the construction of the Haven Centre. This project has been a long time in the making, and a lot of heart and soul has gone into getting it off the ground.


Once work is finished and the centre opens, this will be the first centre of its kind in the whole of Scotland. In the Highlands, we’ve long had a reputation for being caring and compassionate, and initiatives such as the Haven Centre speak to that.


One of the lessons I think we’ve all learned during the pandemic is that respite from the stresses of our lives is incredibly important in today’s world, and it’s something we should embrace. As we recover and rebuild, it’s fantastic to see programmes with this message at the heart of what they do, like this one, brought to life.”


Fergus Ewing MSP for Inverness and Nairn said: “I am so delighted that the Haven Centre have announced the “Spade in the Ground” event. This centre will provide a desperately needed specialist play and respite centre for severely disabled children and young people in the Highlands. Determined and dedicated hard work by all involved and they should be extremely proud that they have now reached this momentous moment. A huge congratulations to all.”


The Haven Centre will be run by the Elsie Normington Foundation in partnership with other service providers. Key Community Supports will be the Respite flat partner and the Elsie Normington Foundation are also pleased to report that discussions with SNAP (Special Needs Action Project) Inverness about the provision of play services for the specialist play centre at the Haven Centre are well advanced. It is hoped to formalise these arrangements in the coming months.


Donald Robertson, Chair of SNAPs board of trustees said: “SNAP is ready for this next stage 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 working with the Elsie Normington Foundation.”


Ongoing fundraising continues through the Elsie Normington Foundation to support operational costs and enhance services at the Haven Centre, which will address a shortage of accessible respite and services for children and young adults with severe, profound, and multiple learning disabilities and complex needs in the Highlands and Islands.