IT HAS taken three years and £4m but the finishing touches have been made to a state-of the-art respite centre.
Staff at Smile Support and Care have unveiled the sprawling complex in Hemlock Road, Waterlooville, next to Rachel Madocks School.
It will offer respite care and day centre facilities for young disabled people – from babies to 25-year-olds.
But the building cannot open until a further £180,000 is raised for all the fixtures and fittings.
Chief executive Stuart Baldwin gave The News a first look around the gleaming building, which has room for eight young people for overnight stays, and has a self-catering flat so families can stay together for short respite breaks.
He said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that we have managed to raise enough money to complete the building.
‘Now we’re into the final phase.
‘We need to kit the building out.
‘It’s a fantastic building. It’s got its own cafe, its own sensory room, spa treatment room and bedrooms for guests.
‘All we need now is the furniture.
‘We need money for everything – from tables to tea spoons, specialised beds, sensory equipment. We need the whole lot.
‘So our appeal is for the final funds just to make this building a working area for people to come and enjoy and have a stay with us.’
The Smile Centre will accept families from Hampshire, Sussex and the bordering counties.
Portchester Community School pupil Josh Sparks, 15, was the first young person to cross over the threshold.
He visited yesterday with sister Danielle Sparks and will be using the Smile Centre.
He said: ‘It’s really cool.
‘The best room is the sensory room – it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.
‘I like the way the lights bounce off the carpet.
‘It’s a great colour and really relaxing.’
Sister Danielle, 24, is a carer for Smile.
She said: ‘Parents tell me how much they need this in this area.
‘It’s going to be amazing.’
The building is heated through eight bore holes drilled 400ft into the ground which extract hot water and pump it round the building.
Electricity is supplied via two different types of solar panels on the roof.
To donate to the centre or offer support go to smilesupport.org.uk.