Play centre is facing closure

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A CASH-STRAPPED play centre is set to close after just two years in business.

Funky World, in Durham Street, on Hartlepool’s Headland, will shut at the end of this month unless there is a sudden turnaround in fortunes.

The centre needs to take £10,000 a month and general manager Louise Simonian admitted: “At the moment, we are not even getting half of that.

“We have had a management meeting about it and we have given notice to our six part-time staff of redundancy.”

Around 1,000 families were on the books of Funky World, whose facilities include a soft play area with a ball pool, tunnels, slides and a sensory cave. It also has a bistro, and an interactive sensory studio.

Yet while Funky World has a strong client base, Louise added: “A lot of them have not been coming here for a long time, and that has been part of the problem.

“We are not getting enough people to generate revenue. We are at the stage that we are having to cease trading at the end of the month.

“We are gutted but we had to draw the line at some point. On some days, we are so quiet you could count the number of people in here on one hand.”

Funky World traded as a community interest company which means it is a social enterprise organisation which used its profits for the public good.

Just four months ago, it was a finalist in this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards’ Most Promising New Business Category.

Executive director Steve Langley said: “There are a lot of kids, especially the disabled, who are going to suffer by not being able to get the benefits from this.

“Covering our overheads is proving to be impossible. If we could do that, we could survive but it is the funding streams. Everything is drying up.”

Louise said a main revenue stream was its function room which had been used by outside organisations for training sessions.

It was also used by families when they held birthday parties for children.

She added: “Companies are doing their training in-house now so that has dried up, and families are so short of money they are not coming here for parties any more.

“We need to generate £10,000 a month to cover our costs and to be self sustainable and a lot of the sources of funding as a voluntary organisation have dried up.

”We would love one of two things to happen. Either the people of the town to get behind us, or an organisation or company to back us and sponsor us.”

To contact Funky World, telephone (01429) 860700 or email admin@fwcic.com

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