Play Bus staff to take on Wolf Run to secure charity’s future

Staff from Banbury Playbus who are taking part in the Wolf Run. Left to right, Lucy Turner, Karen Ariss, Tine Nicholas, Michelle Pollard, Sara Ewens. NNL-160616-165241001
Staff from Banbury Playbus who are taking part in the Wolf Run. Left to right, Lucy Turner, Karen Ariss, Tine Nicholas, Michelle Pollard, Sara Ewens. NNL-160616-165241001

Five staff members from Banbury Play Bus are aiming to keep the charity on the road by taking part in the Wolf Run on September 3.

Following Oxfordshire County Council budget cuts, the Play Bus, which is marking its 21st birthday this year, is currently operating on reserves.

It costs between £8,000 and £10,000 a month to run the charity, with fuel alone costing around £600.

The Play Bus travels the county, bringing play opportunities for young people and social interaction for adults.

Now in a bid to help secure its future, Michelle Pollard, Tine Nicholas, Lucy Turner, Sara Ewens and Karen Ariss, all based at East Street Children’s Centre in Banbury have entered the Wolf Run, calling themselves the Banbury Play Bus Legends.

The team members range in age from early thirties to early fifties.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian Mrs Pollard, who is project manager for the bus said: “I am very grateful to all the guys who are planning to take part. It is a hard thing to do.”

She added the Play Bus was facing an uncertain future.

“We know we have funding from OCC until the end of September, but from then on, we are not sure what will happen,” she said.

“OCC is our core funding so we are looking at different ways we can stand on our own two feet. We are trying to put a business plan together so anyone who can give us business advice would be welcome.”

The Wolf Run is taking place in Warwickshire and sees competitors do a 10km run off-road through mud and obstacles.

Mrs Pollard said: “The fitness range of our members is varied. We have one member who has done a marathon and regularly cycles 50 miles and another who doesn’t do anything like that. We have every degree of fitness, but my nephew is a personal trainer at Spiceball and he will be putting us through our paces.”

They haven’t set a sponsorship target, but have set up a Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/M-Pollard.

“Anything we can raise would be fantastic,” Mrs Pollard said.

“It will keep us on the road and provide resources for the children and families which use us. The money raised will keep us running.

“If it is a substantial amount it will help us provide services for a lot longer.

“We have to live on reserves. We think we have around one year’s running before we need to consider redundancies.

“Every single charity in this town does something diverse, but it is hard to get the funding to continue. There is money for start-ups but for existing projects, it is really difficult to secure the funding.”

Banbury Play Bus won the charity and community award at the Cherwell Business Awards in May while one of its volunteers, Caragh Daley, received the Banbury mayor’s young volunteer of the year award.