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Inverness charity Corbett Value Inclusion Project (VIP) closes but gives helping hand to Haven Centre project for young people with learning disabilities


By Val Sweeney


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Elsie Norrmington and Corbett VIP Treasurer Sonia MacKinnon.
Elsie Norrmington and Corbett VIP Treasurer Sonia MacKinnon.

An Inverness charity which was formed to buy specialised equipment for people with learning disabilities has closed – but not without helping another good cause.

The Corbett Value Inclusion Project (VIP), based at the Corbett Centre in Merkinch, was founded 23 years ago.

It was started by the late Florence Williamson following the closure of the previous charity, Friends of the Corbett Centre.

At one time, the Corbett Centre was used by more than 100 regular service users but has now been redesignated as a resource centre with a different function while the number of regular users has dwindled over the years to just a handful, with the coronavirus pandemic also having an impact.

As the Corbett VIP closed its operation, it handed over £2650 of remaining funds to the Elsie Normington Foundation which is behind the Haven Centre project to develop Scotland’s first multi-purpose centre for young people with learning disabilities and complex needs at a site in Smithton.

Robbie Thomson, secretary of the Corbett VIP, said the group had been set up in 1999 to buy additional specialised equipment or “extras” to help centre users.

The main source of funding had been a monthly disco at the centre.

“It was a social gathering for the learning disability community throughout Inverness to come together,” he said.

“It was a place people could get together but the Covid pandemic stopped that.”

It was with sadness that the charity was closing and it had been decided to hand over the funds to the Elsie Normington Foundation he added.

“We were very aware of what Elsie is doing with Haven project which is excellent and thought that was the perfect thing for the money to go to,” he said.

Mrs Normington said the Corbett VIP events were organised and run by a committee of volunteers and helpers and the chairperson was always someone voted on from the lnverness learning disabled community.

She said the closure of day centres over the past few years had led to many people looking for sheltered activities which were not available.

The closure of the Corbett VIP would now mean many would miss the monthly disco.

“I am looking for a voluntary team who would be willing to take this on as a little project – doing a monthly disco for them at Merkinch Community Centre,” she said.

centre with a different function while the number of regular users has dwindled over the years to just a handful, with the coronavirus pandemic also having an impact.

As the Corbett VIP closed its operation, it handed over £2650 of remaining funds to the Elsie Normington Foundation, which is behind the Haven Centre project to develop Scotland’s first multi-purpose centre for young people with learning disabilities and complex needs at a site in Smithton.

Robbie Thomson, secretary of the Corbett VIP, said the group had been set up in 1999 to buy additional specialised equipment or “extras” to help centre users.

The main source of funding had been a monthly disco at the centre.

“It was a social gathering for the learning disability community throughout Inverness to come together,” he said.

“It was a place people could get together but the Covid pandemic stopped that.”

It was with sadness that the charity was closing and it had been decided to hand over the funds to the Elsie Normington Foundation, he added.

“We were very aware of what Elsie is doing with the Haven project, which is excellent, and thought that was the perfect thing for the money to go to,” he said.

Mrs Normington said the Corbett VIP events were organised and run by a committee of volunteers and helpers.

She said the closure of day centres over the past few years had led to many people looking for sheltered activities which were not available.

The closure of the Corbett VIP would now mean many would miss the monthly disco.

“I am looking for a voluntary team

who would be willing to take this on as a little project – doing a monthly disco for them at Merkinch Community Centre,” she said.

Security review at day centre


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