After waiting nearly three years from start to finish, a new facility for two South Oxhey charities was officially opened yesterday.

The High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire visited the “Step Up” building, in Oxhey Drive, yesterday.

The old library building will now be used by Ascend, which organises courses to help people get back into work, and Herts Mind Network, which provides counselling to people with mental illness.

As well as a large function room and space for Ascend's craft courses, which were once spread out between several buildings, there are also rooms for one to one meetings with Mind counsellors.

Michele Wheeler, from Ascend, said: “It's like a dream come true for us, we're very excited about it because we were very squashed. We have everything here rather than being in places all around South Oxhey.

“It's been a long road, two years if not three, so we're very excited.”

Anybody with concerns about their mental health can visit the facility five days a week, from 9am to 5pm.

Carol Harris, clinical director for Herts Mind Network, added: “There will be someone to talk to, and then they will be offered a one to one appointment to look at what services may be helpful to them.

“The central location means the GP practice next door can ask people to just walk across the road to us. If you go to the doctor you don't want to be told come back in four weeks, you want help straight away.”

Dr Marie-Anne Essam, from the Pathfinder Practice next door, said: “The who thing is about working in partnership, you can do things together that you couldn't do singularly.

“Anyone for one reason or another can find they aren't coping mentally, hopefully this project will help reduce the stigma of mental illness.”

The building was previously inhabited by social services before the library, and was open plan, so the majority of the renovation involved putting in partition walls.

Peter Ramsbottom, project manager, said: “The build itself went to plan and took only seven to eight weeks, we had a plan and stuck to it.

“The contractors came in and actually did some of the work for free, once they'd painted the windows outside they didn't think the cladding looked up to scratch so refurbished it.”

Both the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Countess of Verulam, and Lord Charles Cecil, High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, visited Step Up to see what services the project would give to South Oxhey.

Lord Cecil said: “It's open and it's light, that makes a big difference mentally, it's very difficult to work when it's gloomy.”