The Bognor Fun Bus CIC

Jan Cosgrove
8 min readFeb 28, 2024

BUSINESS PLAN 2024–2029

Concept

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, there was one, also known as the Bognor Fun Bus, which operated in Arun District from 1983–2009/10. [Information on that project forms an appendix to this Plan.]

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 exisiting 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.

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.

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

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

The activity range is huge, from direct experience it can be said that 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 are seeking an operational base with facilities for staff and volunteers to assemble, storage and training. We are in discussion with a local organisation in Bognor.

Also, in negotiation with a transport operator re MoT, fuel supply, vehicle maintenance.

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 Summer 2024, 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.

Consultation/support

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:

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
281384.2
Maintenance 5000, 5150, 5304.5, 5463.64, 5627.54
26545.68
Fuel 1600, 1648, 1697.44, 1748.36, 1800.81
8494.62
Parking 1200, 1200, 1200, 1200, 1200
6000
Office hire 8000, 8000, 8000, 8000, 8000
40000
Equipment 1500, 1500, 1500, 1500, 1500
7500
Contingency 5272.5, 5406.6, 5544.72, 5686.99, 5833.52
27744.34 [7.5%]

Funding

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.

The success of this will dictate how the project develops and meets the need.

The previous Fun Bus Project — its record

first bus of old project at Yapton

We feel entitled/justified to draw upon the many years operational experience of the charity because all five CIC directors were involved as staff, volunteers, trustees or even as a young user (he is now a bus driver). We have the huge advantage of that hindsight.

Here are the sites the old project visited over the years, and we'd be very keen to hear any suggested sites for new Bus sessions. We have made visits around the areas, consulted parish councils and have a good idea of priorities especially under-served communities/groups.

After-School/Holidays (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 (Road name forgotten)

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 *

Saturday Clubs

Wick Eldon Way *

Wick Church site

Wick old community centre

Also some sites in previous section rotated in 2 month programmes

Holidays only

West Meads Drive,

Middleton Shrubbs Field (early days)

Overall success of previous project.

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

Staff and Volunteers all DBS/CRB checked enhanced level. Indeed, before CRB started in 2002, we obtained police criminal records via a pilot scheme VOCS, well before other groups generally could do so, they had to wait for CRB. We kept attendance records for every session.

To get a flavour of what was done in the project, this is a link to 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. This is recommended viewing LINK

It is an abiding source of pleasure for us that we still keep in contact with ‘Fun Bus kids’, one now in his 50s in Canada, others locally who have their own children. Another is is Australia. That is one enormously important fact — that what we did has had impact in people’s lives right up to date, something we did not expect when we started out with the previous project.

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

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

In those years, we 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.

Link to Companies House accounts of previous project

first bus of old project, 2nd designs
2nd Bus of old project

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: bfbcic@gmail.com website: in preparation

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Jan Cosgrove

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