Construction work has begun on a new £1m North West Learning Disability Centre at the Foyle Valley Railway site.
Derry-based charity Destined, which supports people with learning disabilities, said that it was delighted the project has commenced.
A flagship grant of almost £1million from the Big Lottery Fund’s Space & Place programme will fund the project, with additional support from the Western Trust and The Housing Executive’s Social Housing Enterprise Programme.
The existing Foyle Valley Railway Museum is also being refurbished and upgraded at the same time with support from Urban Villages.
Derry City and Strabane District Council have given Destined a long-term lease on the Railway Museum and surrounding site that has allowed the project to get under way.
Destined’s new centre will include the provision of education, training and employment, as well as social and recreational activities for the learning disabled community.
The centre will also be a community venue for the delivery of services by statutory agencies.
Destined Manager Dermot O’Hara said: “This new centre will provide the capacity to launch a social inclusion programme in the community that will ensure that people with learning disabilities will have the same rights as everyone else in society.”
The new facility for people living in the urban and rural parts of the North West area will adopt a Healthy Living Centre model. Michael Hughes Space & Place Programme Co-ordinator, added: “This marks a significant step for Destined in their journey towards creating a vital new Learning Disability Centre in the North West.”
Mayor John Boyle said: “A lot of work has gone into getting this project to this stage and I would like to extend my thanks to all the stakeholders involved for their effort and commitment and look forward to seeing the completed project.”
Linsey Farrell, Programme Director of the Urban Villages Initiative said, “This will extend the capacity of the organisation to impact more lives. Once the newly renovated Foyle Valley Railway Museum is made Disability Discrimination Act compliant and fully accessible, the visitors programme will be run by the Destined members, a fantastic opportunity that will build capacity in the group.”
Woodvale Construction Company Ltd are the contractors and have invited local suppliers and sub-contractors seeking further information to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org