The Bognor Fun Bus CIC

Jan Cosgrove
10 min readFeb 28, 2024

Bognor Fun Bus CIC

Registered Company Number 15030815, incorporated 26 July 2023

Directors: Liz Allen, Jan Cosgrove (Chair), Matt Cosgrove, Mark Scutt, Jennifer Todd

Registered office: 32 Longford Road, Bognor Regis PO21 1AG

Tel: 07488–265916 email: website: in preparation


Revised May 2024


A Fun Bus (sometimes also known as play or youth bus) is a single or double decker bus converted for use as a mobile Children’s Play and/or Youth facility, suitably equipped, and staffed with paid and volunteer workers. The Bus takes activities to communities, it does not provide transport to activities.

It can act standalone in a variety of contexts such as play street, home zone, recreation field etc, or in association with community buildings such as parish and church halls, schools etc. A number of such projects exist across the UK.

Such provision has been shown to be a very effective means of delivery of children’s and young people’s play and recreational provision both locally and nationwide, and this project will complement existing provision in areas throughout the District.

Bognor Fun Bus CIC

This has been formed to create a Bognor Fun Bus project to meet unmet need for children’s and youth provision in Bognor Regis and environs and in Arun District. There are five directors all of whom have knowledge and experience of such work locally and beyond.

Local Context/Background

According to the 2011 Census under 15 population in 2011 was 21,770, this had risen to 23,800 for the 2021 Census, or a 9.03% increase. This is pointed out to show the distinction between proportion of children in a population as against actual numbers over time.

In terms of youth provision, a 2023 YMCA survey of youth provision in the country shows that West Sussex lies in the worst 25% of statutory providers with a spend of under £28 per head, and over 80% cuts in the past ten years. This is where the Local Education Authority is a statutory provider, re those aged 13+. re under-13s, there are no figures but it is clear from our knowledge that community play provision also has fallen in recent years. [see below for more detail]

There is considerable national concern re the loss of provision, especially since the Covid pandemic, much of it focused on children and young people’s mental health, lack of outdoor exercise and peer contact.

Thus, locally, there are less youth and children’s play projects than before, but an increased population in need of such facilities.

In terms of deprivation, two wards in Arun have areas in the worst 10% of the Index of Multiple Deprivation in the country, there are other areas in the worst 10–20%. However, previous experience also shows that there are children in other areas considered more affluent who have need also of such facilities.

Youth Provision Bognor area

Over the past 2 decades the number of youth groups etc supported by West Sussex financially has crashed from 68 to zero. In the Bognor area, there were 5/6 clubs: 39Club, Rose Green, North Bersted, Number 18 etc. Today, the 39 Club has managed to revive and acquire its premises from WSCC but no funding. It currently provides two sessions weekly as far as is known.

From about 1996 until 2023, there were no youth activities at the Bognor Regis Youth and Community Centre despite its trust deed, and the charity was below its required minimum level of trustees for several years. Non-youth activities were in effect handed to another body which in effect ran the centre. but which closed some years back. About 2 years ago, there was a proposal to hand the premises to a church, this led to new trustees being found and now there is a youth activity after many years. It provides 2 weekly sessions, again no County support.

There was a youth centre at Yapton, but this no longer functions as far as we are aware.

One area lacking in youth provision is around The Trees Estate in Bognor/Bersted, it is proposed that this would be a priority for youth activity by the CIC.

Current/Previous play provision in the Bognor area

In the 1970’s and 80’s, there were a number of play organisations operating mainly in the Summer Holiday period. For example, the Bognor Regis and District Play Association (BRDPA)(charity) which ran 8 summer projects, mainly half-day 2 week projects plus a swimming scheme at one of the schools. In 1979, the BRDPA employed an experienced senior playworker from London to evaluate the schemes, the findings were of poor quality in terms of offer and leadership. There was a need for year-round provision, but offering this on fixed sites simultaneously was considered unaffordable. The Association ran 3 Quaker Workcamps, 2 in Bognor and one in Littlehampton in subsequent years employing young Quaker international volunteers ran playschemes for local children.

In due course the Association decided to employ a mobile solution, which evolved into a separate project. Examples of its activities can be viewed in the video below. It is instructive that its activities easily exceeded the combined efforts of all other providers below, council or voluntary. It operated in Arun District from 1983–2009/10. Sites visited over the years.

After-School/Holidays activity (no order) * = frequent over the years

Westloats Lane/Hampshire Ave *, Pevensey Road green, Laburnum Grove/Oak Grove *, Hothampton Car Park, Pryors Lane”, Avisford Park”, Heo Green*, Southfields*, Rose Green. Felpham King George V* earlier years, St Richards Close, Aldingbourne “. Aldingbourne Playing field earlier years, Farnhurst Road, Barnham *. Marshall Close(?), Barnham,Yapton, old Youth Club’Yapton, Tack Lee Road *,Yapton, Foundry Road * Holidays only: West Meads Drive, Middleton Shrubbs Field (early days),

Saturday Clubs: Wick Eldon Way *, Wick Church site, Wick old community centre; Youth sessions: Sunday afternoons Bognor

Operating times — term-time 3.30–5.30pm Saturday Clubs 10am-1pm, holidays morning and afternoon sessions, Youth Sundays 2–5pm

Overall success of previous project.

Total recorded attendances over 28 years = 96,000+, 3600+ sessions

To get a flavour of what can be done on a mobile project, a You Tube video (based on old VHS tapes taken on sessions). The video quality is poor, but the content shows the quality of the delivery, and the fun and involvement of children. This is recommended viewing LINK

There was only ever one national play projects award, run by Yellow Pages, the project was runner upper to an adventure playground with far more funding. There were regular summer student placements on the Bognor project, studying to work with young people and children — they came from Japan, Germany, Holland, and Russia/ Soviet Union.

The project raised and spent a total of £1.3 million, only a small % came from local councils, most was Lottery, BBC CIN, Trusts and Foundations. We also kept a record of volunteer contribution, calculating that had their time been paid, that would have equalled £3m+ worth of work — on the bus, management, admin, fundraising etc.

It closed in 2010 mainly because key people had to withdraw for family/health reasons. Also this was at the time of the big global financial crash.

first bus of old project at Yapton

There also were various one-off playschemes at various times etc, also some religious organisations ran summer activities in Bognor and Yapton.

In more recent times, there have been summer-only projects run by local councils including at Aldwick, Bersted and Bognor Regis. It should be noted that the trend has been away from community provision to that by councils, maybe reflecting the greater pressures on people re volunteering eg in terms of out-of-employment pressures.

The purpose of a Bognor Fun Bus CIC project

Given the local need, the gaps in current provision and the context of needing to share limited resources, the Directors, based on previous experiences, believe that a mobile project can help meet greater demand in a flexible and cost-effective manner. The double decker play bus idea has a proven record across the country and locally. Compared to fixed site capital expenditure, for example the much-needed youth and community centre at Wick, the capital cost of this Project is very much lower.

What happens on a Fun Bus? How will it operate?

It could well be asked …. What doesn’t happen?

The activity range is huge, by adopting a flexible, modular approach, a Fun Bus will/can deliver a range of on-board/outdoor activity including:

  • Art and crafts
  • Puppetry
  • Badge- making
  • Drama (inc/esp use with video)
  • Games eg chess, board games
  • Chat and gossip! very important out-of-school!
  • Lego (including older kids!)
  • Music — guitars, drums and also electronically-produced sounds re keyboards etc
  • even a small pool table, table footie etc
  • Outdoor soft play, play barrels, and other exercising equipment
  • occasional inflatable
  • ball games, of course

and more. Children and young people have great imaginations, the underlying principle is to encourage their choices, cooperation and outcomes, adults are there to help/guide, not dictate. This is key as much of their waking time otherwise is adult-directed in some manner or other.

The Fun Bus will operate out-of-school, term-time, half terms and holidays, play sessions 3.30–5.30pm term time, 2–4pm holidays/half terms (possibly also mornings). Youth sessions would be 6.30–8.30pm. Saturday Clubs could be introduced depending on funding, eg 10.30am-12.30pm

There could be one of two forms of play operation — either two-monthly programmes at 2 sites a week, 2 days a week, and a Saturday Club, rotating to other sites. Or fixed weekly sites 4–5 sites. Each format has advantages and disadvantages from experience.

Users will be registered, attendance registers maintained. A small fee may be charged — experience seems to show that children value such facilities if they pay a small amount. However, there are ways to ensure that children from the lowest income families are not disadvantaged.

Policies, Standards, Safeguarding

The CIC has adopted:

  • Safeguarding Policy
  • Health & Safety Policy
  • Equal Opportunities Policy
  • GDPR Policy

All staff and volunteers will be screened re Enhanced DBS.

The staff will be trained to drive the Fun Bus — a PSV licence is not required, it is regarded as Class 5 MoT for such licence purposes — i.e. ordinary driving licence with training.

Operational matters

Administration will be undertaken by the Directors from 32 Longford Road, Bognor Regis.

We have secured agreement for operational and training space at Makerspace in Longford Road, Bognor Regis where a Local Community Scrapstore is due to open in June 2024. This will provide a lot of our materials needs at a very reasonable price.

Parking remains to be resolved, storage of equipment can be eg via lock-up garage or industrial containers.

The Bus will be supplied from a reputable supplier, there are a number of very reliable ones in England.

Conversion will be undertaken via the Mobile Projects Association MPA who have long expertise in this regard. Most of the passenger seats will be removed, Flo-tec/similar carpeting laid, the MPA recommend a heating system that acts also as a air-conditioning system, extra batteries will be installed as well as a generator, and we will look at installation of solar panels on the roof. We also have the technical support and advice of the former chief officer of the National Playbus Association who lives in Crawley. As before, the aim is a simple conversion with reliance on a modular approach so that equipment etc will be loaded and unloaded according to eg age, season etc

Initial Programme

It is hoped to commence operations in early 2005 this will be dependent on acquisition and conversion, plus build up of available revenue funds. The aim would be to provide holiday sessions at various sites coordinating with any other activities to avoid duplication and to fill gaps — this will entail liaising with parish councils, Arun etc, the aim will be to complement not compete.

Thereafter, an after-schools programme will be developed at appropriate sites, funding permitting.


We have surveyed parish councils and will renew/revisit this. We are going to send primary schools a communication to see what children want. As regards Arun Council’s relevant Community Access Fund, looking at the likely areas of operation on a regular basis, these are the District Councillors supporting to date, we will be pleased to receive more including requests for sites to be considered:

Alan Butcher — River, Jim Brooks -Marine, Steve Goodheart — Hotham, Maralyn May — Courtwick, Francis Oppler — Orchard, Simon McDougall — Pevensey, Sue Wallsgrove — Barnham (2 sites), Amanda Worne — Yapton (2 sites).

5 Year Budget Forecast

This is based on full operation over the whole period though it is likely that actual fundraising progress will mean gradual build-up of service. The projection is based on 3 staff delivering sessions and one administrator, all part-time, plus volunteers

Bognor Fun Bus CIC 5 year Budget

TOTAL Y1 £75572.5, Y2 £77494.6, Y3 £79474.36, Y4 £81513.52, Y5 £83613.85
5 year Total £397668.83
staffing+NI £53000 £54590 £56227.7 £57914.53 £59651.97
Maintenance £5000, £5150, £5304.5, £5463.64, £5627.54
Fuel £1600, £1648, £1697.44, £1748.36, £1800.81
Parking £1200, £1200, £1200, £1200, £1200
Office hire £8000,£8000, £8000, £8000, £8000
Equipment £1500, £1500, £1500, £1500, £1500
Contingency £5272.5, £5406.6, £5544.72, £5686.99, £5833.52
£27744.34 [7.5%]


The BFB CIC is planning appeals to e.g. National Lottery, BBC Children in Need, Foundations and Charitable Trusts, Parish Councils, Local Business. This will be undertaken by the Directors who have a good working knowledge of the field. There will be a regular monthly appeal process. Currently, based on discussions with a number of major trusts etc, we are awaiting the outcome of a capital funding bid with Arun District Council to buy, convert and equip the Bus before making submissions on a sustained basis.

The success of this will dictate how the project develops and meets the need. We have made visits around the areas, consulted parish councils and have a good idea of priorities especially under-served communities/groups. The sites eventually chosen will be based on analysis of our investigations and consultations.


Elizabeth Allen*, Jan Cosgrove (Chair). Matthew Cosgrove, Mark Scutt, Jen Todd*

  • responsible for Training



Jan Cosgrove

National Secretary of Fair Play for Children, Also runs Bognor Regis Herald online. Plus runs British Music Radio online