A CHARITY which helps young adults with learning difficulties find work has refurbished new premises in record time thanks to thousands of pounds of donations.

Generous business owners came to the rescue for Team Domenica after reading about its urgent fundraising appeal in The Argus.

The charity, which launched a year ago, was told to move out of the building it was renting in the Old Steine, Brighton, after plans for a 12,000 patient doctor’s surgery emerged.

It was a race against the clock as the charity had just seven weeks to find new premises before the start of the new academic year and afford the much-needed £35,000 renovation ready to welcome students.

It took on a derelict former warehouse in Preston Road which offers much more space but needed a complete refurbishment, including a new industrial-sized kitchen for students to expand their catering skills and to service a public café.

The Bhimji family, which owns First Charterhouse Investments development company in New Road, donated £17,500 which prompted another donor to match their funding.

The work made possible by their money was unveiled to students on Monday when they returned for the start of term.

Arif, 56, Pauline, 53, and Aysha, 25, who live nearby, took a personal interest in the cause close to their hearts.

Mr Bhimji said: “We saw the appeal in The Argus and thought we had to donate. It is a cause that has touched people’s hearts and we hope the donation can benefit all the children.”

Miss Bhimji said: “It’s fantastic to see the finished product, we were so happy to help. We live nearby so we’re hoping to come into the café for lunch.”

Mrs Bhimji said: “We were all born and bred in Brighton so it is great to help a charity which has launched here.”

Founder Rosa Monckton, who named the charity after her daughter Domenica who has Down’s syndrome, said: “I’m completely thrilled. We’ve had such wonderful support. It is absolutely incredible, we could not have done it without the donations.

“All the staff have put in extra time as well. The students were overwhelmed when they saw the place.”

She thanked Chalk architecture, Labcast builders and Bearded Bros Removals who helped with the project.

Domenica, 21, who is Princess Diana’s goddaughter, said: “I love the new kitchen – it’s great and I look forward to cooking in it. The whole building is much bigger with more space for us.”

This term the charity has 31 returning and new candidates. Several have already found employment, at the University of Sussex, Brighton Palace Pier, working for the Co-operative at Holiday Inn, the Harbour Hotel and The Grand hotel.

Ms Monckton said the national unemployment rate for people with learning disabilities is 96 per cent “unacceptable” and said the charity bucked the trend with a 20 per cent rate in its first year.

She said: “We have shown it doesn’t have to be this way.

“It is all about overcoming prejudice born of ignorance which is born from fear.

“An important part of what we do is encouraging students to engage with the community.

The formerly based at the Old Steine has closed.

The much larger café is open all year round at the Preston Road site.

To support Team Domenica donate at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/teamdomenicaprestonroad