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Ipswich Playbus set to get £10,000 of funding from borough council

PUBLISHED: 08:11 02 November 2017

Maggie, the Ipswich Community Playbus.

Maggie, the Ipswich Community Playbus.

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An Ipswich facility that helps look after youngsters for free is set to receive £10,000 in council funding.

The Ipswich Community Playbus is asking for a portion of the funds from each of the five borough council area committees.

The bus currently makes eight stops a week across the town providing two hours of free childcare for children aged five and under to anyone who needs it, helping many families to top up the amount of free childcare they receive.

Users only have to sign in to use the service on the double decker bus, which has affectionately been named Maggie.

The bus has been specially adapted so that it can be a stimulating learning environment for young children.

It has a built-in slide as well as messy and soft play areas.

The bus was first set up in the 1970s and was restarted in 2003. It currently helps over 500 children and parents across the town many of whom are from deprived or under privileged backgrounds.

The current costs of running the bus are around £54,000 with the majority of this money spent on wages for the two staff members who run the bus. The running and repair of the bus takes another £10,000 with the final £11,000 being used on equipment, materials, rent, admin, promotion and fundraising.

The bus has previously received money from the county council in the form of Service Level Agreements, reserves and grant applications.

However, these previous agreements have now ended forcing the bus’ trustees to look for other sources of funding.

Liz Harsant, who is the chair of the Playbus trustees group, said: “It’s a wonderful facility, The kids love it and they miss it when I go to school. It’s really good fun.”

She said that without the proposed funding, the Playbus would struggle to keep going to all the stops it currently makes.

As well as making things fun for children, Mrs Harsant said that the bus also helped parents and carers to get together, particularly those who may otherwise feel lonely or isolated. She said that long lasting friendships had been forged thanks to the service.

“They do so much,” she added. “I am very proud.”

Borough council area committees will decide on the plans in the next few weeks.

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