THE future of a valuable resource for special needs children and their families hangs in the balance after a huge VAT bill left it struggling.
Wirral Resource Centre in Birkenhead was landed with a £16,000 demand from the Inland Revenue last year, even though the debt dated back to the early 1990s when the organisation was administered by a committee that has long ceased involvement.
Despite her protests, centre coordinator Lynn Chamberlain was forced to pull out all the stops to pay the bill and keep the important facility afloat.
Lynn told the News: “It’s coming up to the end of that year now, but it has bled us dry to the point where we have had to make staff redundant.
“It’s got to the point where we have no cash to tide us over.
“Parents and staff have been rallying around to do as much as they can to generate funds to keep us going.”
Wirral Resource Centre helps support about 90 special needs children from across the peninsula every week.
It usually receives a small grant from Wirral council, but must find about 70% of its funding independently.
Lynn, who has been in her post for four years, said: “What we offer for children with special needs and their families is a centre with everything under one roof, and we bring other agencies into the service as well.
“For example, if a physiotherapist needs to see a child and has to travel around to their homes, they could maybe see three or four children.
“Here, they can see 16 in one day.
“It builds up their targets and it’s great for parents because they know their children are going to receive physio every week.”
The resource centre even sends a minibus out to pick up those struggling for transport.
But its existence is hanging by a thread, and depends on success in securing an early intervention grant from Wirral council.
Lynn said: “Our current grant from the council runs out on June 30.
“If we are successful with the new grant, that will start on July 1, but unfortunately we don’t find out if we are successful until the middle of June.
“So, we’ve got a two-week wait to find out if its good news or bad.
“It’s not a very nice position to be in.”
Lynn wants to raise awareness of the centre’s good work and encourage fundraisers to consider it next time they’re deciding on beneficiaries.
She added: “Closing would have a massive impact on Wirral. Families using us wouldn’t know where to go if they didn’t come here.”
To find out more about the centre’s work, volunteer or help raise funds for Wirral Resource Centre call 0151 608 8288 or visit: