THERE is still hope for a Wirral good cause backed by ex-Liverpool FC boss Rafa Benitez that was expected to close this summer.

Wirral Play Council’s Special Needs service, which has supported thousands of special needs children and their families for decades, has secured council funding to continue running “throughout the summer."

And with the charity’s board of trustees now investigating other sources of funding and thousands of pounds having been donated to its online page in recent days, there is a cause for optimism for the special needs branch’s future.

A spokesman for Wirral Council said: “The children’s department appreciate the invaluable work carried out by Wirral Play Council to provide services for children with additional needs.

"It is important that we have stable and resilient third sector partners who can contribute to delivery of services for children and young people.

"Therefore, we continue to allocate funds to Wirral Play Council to support operational and staffing costs.”

He said in terms of support for individual projects, funding has “already been sourced” to fund the Special Needs Scheme throughout the summer, “to provide children with disabilities opportunities to play and respite for parents”.

The news comes after bosses from Wirral Play Council’s Special Needs service said last week it would close this summer, with 11 members of staff to be made redundant.

Based in Birkenhead, the service helps families by providing out of school activities for children aged five to 18 in Wirral with a range of complex needs, giving respite to parents all year round.

It was described by local councillor Pat Cleary as “incredibly vital”, but reportedly needed extra funding to the tune of around £75,000 a year just to stay running.

Formed over 40 years ago, the charity used to get funding “from all over” including Spaniard Benitez’s charity foundation, which gave a “very generous donation” back in 2013.

The Wirral Play Council Special Needs’ Gofundme page currently has over £2,000 donated.

The council spokesman added: “Currently, the Wirral Play Council Board of Trustees are investigating other sources of funding, supported by children’s services, who are looking to re-engage in the commissioning process, and work with partners to explore any other potential funding opportunities.”

The Wirral Play Council, which provides a wide range of services for many more children and their families, will not be affected if the Special Needs service closes down.