Call for community effort to build 'amazing' Portsmouth centre for people with Down syndrome

PASSIONATE charity workers are calling on local builders and tradesmen to help with the creation of a new centre 'to help improve the lives of people with Down syndrome.'

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 9:41 am
The former St John Ambulance building in Old Commercial Road which could become the new home of the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association

The Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association (PDSA) is halfway to reaching its fundraising target of £600,000 to regenerate the former St John Ambulance building in Buckland into its new base.

A planning application has been submitted and is due for decision soon, but one of the charity's trustees has said they have already been 'blown away' by the support from the community.

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Rachael and Ken Ross with their sons, Jack, Max and Tom. Picture : Habibur Rahman

Ken Ross, 48, said: 'We've raised about half the total needed so far but we have had a few people involved in the construction industry saying they want to help us as well.

'So we won't actually need £600,000 as such because the help will save us money. Something like getting free waste removal could save up £30,000.'

If approved for development in February the centre in Old Commercial Road will replace the PDSA's current home in the Cottage Grove Primary School in Southsea.

Plans include adding a first floor to parts of the existing building and adding more windows to let in light.

Ken said: 'With the centre there will be much more room for people to be there at the same time and integrate.

'The centre is going to be amazing, it's quite exciting what we are planning. We are hoping to create jobs for people with Down syndrome.'

Carpenter John Grinaway, from Portchester, has already pledged to help with construction. He said: 'It's a really good cause. It's well worth giving up your time for.

'I will do whatever I can to help. And I'm sure there are many more people out there who would be happy to help.'

Ken and his wife Rachael, whose 15-year-old son Max has Down Syndrome, set up the charity in 2010.

It currently offers free classes and activities to more than 100 children.

Ken added: 'This is all we think about. We hope to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome exponentially. If we can show how easy it is to make society inclusive we hope to make it easier for people to be accepted for who they are.'

To offer to help with the development email Ken at [email protected]