OM Ireland's vintage double-decker bus travels throughout the country providing a range of activities for all ages in co-operation with local churches and local communities.
The bus is well-loved as a safe place which provides entertainment, fun, interaction and learning through drama, games, sports, Bible stories, puppets, magic tricks, arts and crafts.
The bus is Mobile - it can travel from place to place and park in key venues (e.g. school playgrounds, community centres, housing estates, etc.).
The bus is Attractive - it attracts attention and quickly arouses the interest of the local community. People want to know what is going on and come to look!
The bus is Versatile - it can be a venue for a children's club, a teen coffee bar or a community meeting all in one day! The bus provides on-the-spot facilities for events in a comfortable environment.
The bus is Interactive - people don't just look, they get involved. They can come on board and take part in a range of programmes.
In the community: On housing estates, in parks and shore-fronts, the Big Red Bus has served as an ideal venue for children's holiday clubs, craft workshops and family fun events. Big Red Bus teams seek to benefit the local community through litter collection and other social projects.
On the street: The bus has proved to be a popular attraction at St. Patrick's Day parades, vintage car rallies and festivals. The team provides face painting and balloon modeling for children, free teas and coffees and a range of programmes on board. On one occasion the bus even served as a mobile art gallery!
Schools: Special programmes designed for different age groups have proved popular in primary schools in different parts of the country. Puppet shows, crafts and games are perfect for younger children while older ones enjoy creative and interactive lessons exploring social and religious issues. The Big Red Bus team also produces theatre presentations for school based around the major Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter.
Town Centres: The problem of anti-social behaviour and under-age drinking is challenging authorities in towns and cities across Ireland. The Big Red Bus provides a safe, mobile drop-in centre and coffee bar for teens with interactive games and activities on board - a positive alternative for bored youngsters!
Serving on board OM ships for four years, Mike Mullins saw first hand the impact of the ships as they sailed from port-to-port bringing knowledge, help and hope. While on board, Mike developed a vision for a double-decker bus work in Ireland much like a ship on wheels.
Back in his home country, Mike gathered together a team of people who shared the vision. They began to pray and plan.
"When God gives us a vision we should be willing to step out in faith and trust Him for all the resources", Mike said. "We had no drivers, no finances, no bus and nowhere to park if we had a bus but we prayed in faith."
In 1998, the team borrowed a single-decker from Northern Ireland to help in run a programme in Carndonagh, Donegal. They were amazed by the response.
The following May (1999), Mike and his wife Aster were invited to the Associated Bus Ministry convention in the UK and were offered a double-decker bus.
After that, things just seemed to fall into place. "Someone drove the bus for us, a farmer offered his barn to store it and we received a substantial financial gift to help with painting the bus", Mike explained.
On the day the bus passed its first MOT (UK motor vehicle inspection), the Big Red Bus did its first school programme. The bus wasn't completely ready, but seeing the children's reaction to the bus and their response confirmed its value.