A NEW social enterprise centre is set to open in Wirral after the scheme was awarded funding from the council's Empty Shops Fund.

Hope Place in Prenton will primarily support women lacking in confidence and self esteem to gain experience of business.

The building, in Woodchurch Road, will feature a café, offering work experience in the catering and hospitality sector and a designer dress swap shop to introduce residents to the world of social enterprise or not-for-profit business.

There will also be 'Hot Spots' - workspaces where local residents can trial their own business ideas - and 'Inspiring Stories’ events for successful professionals to help inspire others to achieve their full potential.

Refurbishment and start up costs were met from a £13,000 grant through Wirral Council’s Empty Shops Fund.

The project will be managed by local business women Rachel Millard and Helen Robinson.

Wirral Council awarded Empty Shops funding to a range of different community projects from November 2011. Applications for funding have now closed.

The official opening takes place on February 22 and will be attended by the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Gerry Ellis and the Mayoress Mrs Margaret Ellis.

From 1 – 4pm there will be arts and crafts, face painting and animation workshops free and open to all.

Cllr Pat Hackett, cabinet member for regeneration and planning strategy said: "The Empty Shops Fund has already achieved a great deal to revitalise many vacant business premises in Wirral, and to give social enterprises run by the local community the support they need to run very valuable projects.

"Hope Place is another success story which we think will provide an unique resource for residents."


Rachel Millard said: "After working in Liverpool for many years Helen and I decided we wanted to share our experience and knowledge working in our local community.

"We hope to inspire others to be successful and achieve their full potential. All profits from Hope Place will go to support Revival Hub, a social enterprise with similar aims, to support young women who need help to develop confidence."

The resource has already played host to writers workshops by Birkenhead-born playwright Michael Wynne, whose series Being Eileen is currently airing on BBC TV, and animation workshops for seven to 14-year-olds.

For more information, contact Rachel Millard by telephone on 07890 262981 or email at Rachel.millard@btconnect.com