Free Bus Rides Help to Provide SMASHing Summer Fun for Luton’s Youngsters
Arriva Buses joined forces with local charity, Level Trust, this summer to help nearly 300 children living in poverty across Luton gain access a host of fun-filled activities and adventures designed to help them make the most of the break from school.
SMASH is a free to use summertime scheme run by Level Trust, which aims to enrich the lives of children aged 8-12 living in Luton. The scheme is designed for children who’s families struggle to afford the extra strain the summer holidays can put on family budgets by allowing them to build their confidence and social skills through undertaking extraordinary experiences which they may not normally have opportunity to take part in.
To ensure that as many eligible youngsters as possible are able to attend the huge variety of activities, Arriva pledged to provide up to three buses daily, offering every participant free travel to and from each location.
Spokesperson from Level Trust, said: “Arriva’s support has made a huge difference. Being able to provide transport as part of SMASH means that it is truly accessible for those children who need it most; their families don’t need to worry about how they will afford to get their children to and from the scheme each day. The buses have collected the children from their school gates each day, and this brought a reassuring sense of familiarity to children who may otherwise feel a bit nervous about embarking on a week of activities in a place they don’t know, with lots of new children and adults.
“By donating the free travel, Arriva has really helped Level Trust as a charity, allowing our limited resources to stretch further and giving the children an even better experience. Plus, the drivers have been lovely, friendly faces for the children to see at the beginning and end of each day. Ciara, one of the children who took part, told us, ‘I thought SMASH would be scary because I didn't know anyone but it wasn't. It was fun as soon as I got on the bus.’”
SMASH activities range from performing arts, dance, art and design, to sports coaching and team games to a variety of outdoor adventures. Participants also get lunch and healthy snacks throughout the day, to keep their energy levels up so they can make the most of trying new things and making new friends.
Linsey Frostick, General Manager for Arriva Luton, explained: “We’re extremely proud of the role we play in connecting our local community, but we’re very aware that there are certain people living within the areas we serve who might not have the resources or opportunity available to them to enjoy the simple things in life, like a humble bus trip.
“It’s been a pleasure to have been able to partner with such a fantastically worthwhile cause, who really achieve wonderful things for young people locally. It’s really an honour to have helped support Level Trust to make this summer one to remember for a large number of children who needed and deserved a little summer-fun.”
Zayna, another participant from this summer’s scheme explained how important SMASH was to her, stating: "I would've probably just been sitting down and watching telly and just be bored if it wasn’t for SMASH. You have so much fun and make new friends. You have the best leaders and there are loads of activities. They make the best lunch and it's better than doing nothing!”
45% of children in Luton, over 26,600, live in poverty. Level Trust was created to help those aged 3-16 by providing gift cards for school shoes and coats, running a Uniform Exchange ‘swap shop’ in The Mall, giving out [email protected] resource packs full of the things children need for homework, and running a summer school packed with exciting and enriching experiences. Its work makes children feel more included, more confident, and enables them to attend school more – which all adds up to a brighter future.