STAFF at a play centre for children with special needs that closed because of Covid restrictions have launched a campaign to reopen - and need Globe readers' help.

Wirral Play Council had to shut its doors when lockdown was enforced in March and is no longer able to provide support and respite it has to families across the borough since 1974.

But with no money coming in (but still having staff and bills to pay) its finances have drained and the building is being shut down.

The aim is to reopen, under a new name, in the same building, next year so staff can get back to helping the children and families who desperately need help and support.

Which is why your help is vital.

An initial £15,000 is needed to sort the debts save the building from being sold, so it can be asset transferred to the new owners.

Other funds raised would be use to pay for running costs.

Appealing to our readers for support, manager Helen Panteli told the Globe this afternoon: "We want to stay here, because the kids know where they are and know that they are safe.

"So, to move it to a different building would not be, mentally, very healthy, for the children, when they have a very good building here.

"Since we closed in March, I've had weekly messages from parents asking "are you open yet?"

"They are under stresses with their children and you can see it their faces, hear in their voices. They want to be back.

"The help they have had from us has a massive impact on them.

"I want to reopen because I know the effect we have had on so many people across the borough.

"We need your help."

The centre has 15 staff.

The original Play Development Centre opened in shop premises on St Anne Street, Birkenhead in 1980.

It moved to Beckwith Street in 1983 and to its current home, the old Transport & General Workers' Union building on Berner Street in Birkenhead, 10 years later.

Its distinctive extension was completed in 1998 and the building repainted in 2008, and is now a playful bright green.

It has been a lifeline for families for 47 years.

Chrissie Brie, whose son Alex has profound and multiple learning difficulties and attended the centre for nine years, is backing the campaign to reopen.

Chrissie told "It was a routine that they knew, it was a routine they were happy with.

"From a parent's perspective, it was actually the only respite that they got.

"Social services would refer the kids here for their respite.

"So, they would literally get two hours a week for their respite. A lot of the parents would go shopping during that time.

"Effectively, it's a youth club for special needs kids, but is the only one in the area and too good a service to just let go.

"The staff had been here for years and you could trust them.

"It's very, very much missed.

"Alex's routine went completely out of the window with covid, which caused complete anxiety. If this place had been allowed to stay open, none of this would have happened.

"Every time we brought him his eyes lit up. Every single Tuesday he was so happy, because he was coming here.

"Special needs kids don't understand the current situation.

"Parents are desperate to get their kids back in here and aren't going to care how long it takes to reopen, as long as they know it's coming."

But before the building can be handed over, there is another issue.

Pete Johnstone, finance officer at the play council said: "We want to transfer the building over to the new organisation that's being started up by some of the ex-workers.

"To pass that on we need to locate the original people who signed that deed, to pass it onto the new trustees, and then they can pass it over.

"Unfortunately, one of those people we can't find is a lady called Rosemary Orr. We've tried everywhere.

"We need to get all the previous signatories to sign off."

To help by donating, or if you can help find Rosemary Orr, email or

A GoFundMe page has also been set up: