Pictured left to right are: Brittany Cluard, Lisa Pringle and Sarah Bettison Photograph Credit John Allen/Barnardos
Plymouth bus journeys are being brightened up for young children, thanks to a fun new scheme to boost their speech and language skills and raise awareness of local services.

Barnardo’s and Plymouth Citybus have worked together to create ‘bus bingo’, a game where families use their journeys to look out for a variety of objects including trees, traffic lights, trains and animals.

Children receive a goody bag for taking part, and parents and carers are able to access information on important sources of local support – including free funding for childcare.

The game was developed by Barnardo’s, which manages many of the city’s children’s centres on behalf of Plymouth City Council.

Barnardo’s Project Worker Lisa Pringle said:

“We hope ‘bus bingo’ will be a fun way to encourage families to spend more time talking to their children to develop speech and language skills.

“The colourful cards feature six objects to look out for on local journeys, including schools, churches, cats, dogs, birds, trees, taxis, traffic lights and postboxes.

“Any child who takes part will receive a free goody bag containing books and crayons, while parents can receive information on early years funding to help with childcare costs, and the wide range of activities provided by our local children’s centres.”

The ‘bus bingo’ cards will be carried by Barnardo’s ‘parent champion’ volunteers who will approach passengers with young children to ask if they want to play the new game. There is no obligation to take part.

Volunteers will focus on different routes at different times, but the main targets will be bus routes in areas of Plymouth with low take-up of early years funding. Search Facebook for ‘Barnardos Plymouth’ for further details.

Earlier this year, Plymouth Citybus launched its ‘Chatty Bus’ campaign to encourage passengers to take part in conversation in a bid to tackle loneliness. It is hoped this partnership will build on its success by engaging parents and younger children.

Mark Collins, Head of Commercial and Marketing, Plymouth Citybus, said:

“Plymouth has a high rate of child poverty and we’ve been doing a lot of work to try and combat this. This partnership with Barnardo’s builds on the work we’ve been doing throughout the year with our Chatty Bus campaign and will help families with young children to boost their literacy skills at a really important age.

“The bus is a key in tackling social issues such as loneliness, and we hope this partnership will really help families in Plymouth who travel with us.”