Uttlesford Buffy Playbus receives £165,000 from Big Lottery Fund

Parents, grand parents, children, and Buffy bus staff in the bus celebrate the Big Lottery funding a

Parents, grand parents, children, and Buffy bus staff in the bus celebrate the Big Lottery funding announcement. - Credit: Archant

Isolated communities in Uttlesford have been given a huge boost with the news a children’s playbus will receive more than £160,000 to continue its work.

Uttlesford Buffy Bus Association (UBBA) was among several organisations in the county to benefit from a £1.7million share of the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme.

It received £164,744 to expand its playbus service, which provides early years activities for pre-school children and their carers in rural and isolated communities with few other support services.

UBBA chairman Jan Menell said: “We are thrilled the Big Lottery Fund has acknowledged our valuable work reaching out to isolated communities and individuals, enabling small children to play and socialise in the unique environment of a double-decker bus.

“Buffy has served the community of Uttlesford for 19 years and this grant will enable us to refurbish a rather jaded looking Buffy Playbus and give us much-needed financial security to continue with our work.

“Our thanks must also go to our project leader, Rosie Juhl, for her hard work and dedication throughout this process.”

The outreach playbus offers a regular weekly service that encourages children to learn through play to enhance their skills and development and form friendships.

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Activities and resources include painting and crafts, sandpits, games and puzzles, a home corner, healthy food preparation sessions with food tasting and outside games – all designed to help children make the transition into primary education.

It also offers parenting and healthy eating awareness sessions for parents and carers too and social opportunities for both parents and children.

Many of the activities have been developed in consultation with families who are current users of the playbus, with staff initiating activities that follow the Department for Education’s Early Years Foundation Framework.

The Lottery funding, which makes up a third of the charity’s annual costs over the next five years, will enable the service to expand to meet demand, to engage more with disabled children through the provision of sensory toys, to develop communications skills and to increase cooking sessions on the bus.

The project is expected to work with 300 rurally isolated parents, carers and children. Some will be families with children who have physical and sensory needs.

Big Lottery Fund spokesman, Caroline James, said: “The Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme is all about bringing real improvements to communities and enabling people to have better chances in life.

“These grants will help to improve the lives of so many people and we look forward to continuing this ever important investment in the good causes which are working hard to improve the lives of those most in need.”

• For more details about the Buffy Playbus and timetable, visit buffybus.com