Doors close at play centre

CLOSURE: Steve Langley and Louise Simonian, from Funky World
CLOSURE: Steve Langley and Louise Simonian, from Funky World

A CASH-STRAPPED play centre closed its doors for the last time after a desperate search for backers proved fruitless.

Funky World, in Durham Street, on Hartlepool’s Headland, ceased operating yesterday with the loss of six staff.

General manager Louise Simonian admitted: “This is a very sad day. We may all move on and find other jobs or other volunteer posts but there is only one Funky World.”

Management will now work behind the scenes on closing down the operation.

“We are not going into liquidation,” said Louise. “But we are ceasing trading. There are a few things that we need to wind up and the directors have to decide what to do with the assets.

“Unfortunately, even though we have tried to do everything we could, no-one has come forward. We have had meetings with other community interest companies, with charities, with businesses and with local authorities to see if there was anything we could do to work in partnership or in contract with them, but we have not found anything.

“A couple of people have still not come back to us but they have left it very late in the day if they are going to do that.”

The Hartlepool Mail reported on Funky World’s desperate last-ditch plea for help at the start of August.

The centre needed to take £10,000 a month to keep on trading as a community interest company but Louise admitted at the time: “At the moment, we are not even getting half of that.”

Yesterday, she added: “The staff received their redundancy notice at the beginning of August, giving them a month notice. They have been kept fully aware of everything we are doing, and trying to do.

“We are all just so disappointed that we have not been able to find a way to keep it open.”

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 had a strong client base, staff said many people had not been using the facilities recently which had contributed to the problem.

Any potential backer for Funky World still has time to come forward while management work behind closed doors to sort out the assets.

They should contact executive director Steve Langley. Telephone (01429) 860700 or email