Young people on Wearside will get help with learning more about the world of work and becoming more independent after a charity opened a new site.
Development and training organisation Springboard has breathed new life into the former Southwick Farm site, close to The Green.
The premises was closed several years ago, but it has now been re-opened to allow those with autism and learning disabilities to access educational programmes and community development activities, as well as learn how to carry out domestic tasks such as cooking.
Former Sunderland AFC captain Kevin Ball was joined by SAFC youngsters Jack Diamond and Alex Storey as well as club mascots Samson and Delilah to cut the ribbon at the site.
College principal Vickie Richardson told the Echo: “This is a place for 19 to 25-year-olds from Sunderland and the surrounding areas.
“As well as our vocational suite there is also an integrated living area as well.
“We are helping them to learn life skills and they’ll also learn ICT, Maths and English skills too.”
There are currently 13 people enrolled in the current academic year on the Springboard Futures course at Southwick Farm, but there is capacity for 20.
Vickie added: “We want it to be personalised and bespoke to suit the young people.
Springboard chief executive David Barker said: “This centre is about young people gaining the skills and confidence they need for work and for life.
“When I joined Springboard two years ago this place was a jungle and nothing like it is now but I always had an idea that we would open a college here.
“The transition from young adult into a fully integrated adult is difficult for anybody but especially for these people with some of the barriers they face.
“This is the perfect place to enable that to happen.”
Kevin, who is now an ambassador for the Black Cats and Springboard, said: “It’s a pleasure to be here and support Springboard.
“I came here to look around a few weeks ago and the amount of work that has gone into the place is tremendous.
“If anybody can support us we would really appreciate any help.”
Those interesting in supporting Springboard through sponsorship or offering work experience placements to its learners should email marketing officer Amy Goodall at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
For more information about Springboard go to www.springboard-ne.org.uk