What the play bus offers

The Banbury Play Bus has been an important part of life in the Banbury area since 1995, providing an invaluable service to children, young people and their families. The bus provides play activities and after school sessions within the Cherwell District where there is little or no provision. The Play Bus has been adapted for use by under 5’s and their families as well as the 5 to 11 year old groups and staff work very closely to plan play experiences for all to enjoy. The Bus Project is currently funded through; Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council but we are continually seeking further funding streams to ensure the Project’s future.

In March 2007 the project was approached by Cherwell District Council to manage and coordinate the Urban Play Ranger Project. This was an initiative to encourage children and families back to playing outdoors in public parks in urban areas and accessing activities and resources naturally around them. The Play Ranger Project provided an imaginative play experience in public parks in urban areas. This service covered sessions in both Banbury and the Bicester areas with the intention of developing it further in the future. Sadly funding for this initiative ceased in 2012 but the project still uses the Play Ranger ethos at every opportunity; encouraging outdoor play whenever possible.

As the project has grown the services on offer have too. We have been able to offer an invaluable crèche service to different groups, for example allowing young parents, traveller families and those in need of help with mental health issues access further education and support, knowing that their children are being cared for by trusted practitioners.

A big part of the Project’s program is the summer holidays. We are very fortunate to have a large bank of young people that work or volunteer for the project, allowing us to offer more sessions for a bigger group of children and families. We provide Play Ranger sessions in parks and support the early year’s sessions to allow older siblings and local children to join in the fun and free play activities. The summer also brings along play days to local parks. This offers free play activities to children and young people and grows more and more popular each year.

Our latest venture is to support the Early Intervention Hubs with after school sessions in both in Grimsbury at the East Street Centre and at the Hub itself on a weekly basis. We also support the Bicester Hub with their 5 to 7 year olds and their young carers groups; the popularity of this session has grown so much we are now offering a weekly session instead of the previous fortnightly sessions.

The Play bus is managed by a board of trustees who have a range of experience of charity and fundraising work. This trustee’s include professionals who have a wealth of experience in childcare, family support and working with and supporting young people. Parents and carers are actively encouraged to join the trustees.


  • Unique space to play
  • Small / large group activities
  • Fresh drinking water available at all times
  • Impartial and confidential advice
  • Signposting to services / other agencies



  • Child / adult led activities for all ages
  • Working within the EYFS framework
  • Young people / After School clubs / Early Intervention Hub support
  • Time for parents
  • Out door play
  • Creative atmosphere
  • School Holiday Schemes
  • Early Years Language & Literacy
  • Physical Play



  • Volunteering / Work experience
  • Learning new skills / approaches/ training
  • ‘Time for me’
  • Working alongside parents / carers
  • Building up of relationships
  • Crèche Facilities
  • Contact Provision
  • Sharing concerns and problems with sensitive staff



  • The bus is an iconic symbol and visually appealing
  • This is the only project of its kind in Oxfordshire
  • Good reputation at District and local levels
  • Community support to isolated rural and urban areas
  • Offering play experiences and support networks
  • Quality early years and after school provision
  • Mobile provision so can be placed directly where the need is
  • Non-judgemental and informal environment
  • Increased opportunities for social interaction
  • Helping to promote social cohesion
  • Helping to promote physical, social and emotional well being.
  • Extensive partnership working with local play providers, statutory agencies, groups and local businesses
  • Good relationship with college; offering volunteering opportunities for young people.