The Princess Royal has launched a £1 million appeal to develop a purpose-built house for people with learning disabilities in the Capital.
The international disability charity L’Arche aims to build the facility in addition to its three existing homes in Edinburgh.
Princess Anne, who has agreed to take the role of royal patron of the appeal, last night attended a launch reception in the city alongside L’Arche community members and fellow charity patrons including Sir Tom Farmer, Cardinal Keith O’Brien and former Bishop of Edinburgh the Rt Rev Brian Smith.
The ceremony saw Princess Anne presented with a gift of handmade jewellery from L’Arche community member, Ingrid Lawrence.
Founded in France in 1964, L’Arche now has 137 communities in 40 countries. L’Arche Edinburgh, which celebrates its 21st anniversary this year, already has three small family-style homes in Leith – the Skein on Leith Links, Creelha near Easter Road and a supported living flat in Cables Wynd.
The communities offer people with a learning disability a family-style living environment that encourages them to create a home, develop their talents and build friendships.
L’Arche Edinburgh also provides visiting support to a service user in their own flat and has set up day services for several members.
The charity has already raised £400,000 towards the new home.
Project director Jane Salmonson said: “L’Arche Edinburgh is pleased and proud that the Princess Royal has agreed to be the royal patron of the appeal.
“The home will be the first of its kind, a small house in a family-style setting, especially for people with learning disabilities whose needs are changing as they grow older.
“The end result will be a new, specially-designed home, as a permanent addition to the care and support available in Edinburgh, for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers.
“We hope it will counter the loneliness and isolation that can accompany old age and help to prevent admissions to hospitals and nursing homes.”
Ms Salmonson added that the charity aimed to build the new home near its existing properties in Leith and had already identified a site.
“We hope to have completed the new home in time for summer next year.
“There is nothing like it in Edinburgh, there really is a big need.”
Jean Vanier set up L’Arche in a village in northern France in 1964 having invited two men from an asylum to come and live with him in his own home.
Since then, it has grown into an international federation of communities where people with and without learning disabilities live together.