Sunshine Coaches

UPDATE: March 2020
Please be aware that, due to the coronavirus outbreak in the UK and the impact this will have on various aspects of Variety's funding process, applications for grants are likely to be delayed. You can still submit your application as usual, and we will respond as quickly as we are able to confirm we have received it. If you have already submitted an application, or had one approved recently, your funding may be significantly delayed. In all instances, our grants team will endeavour to keep you informed at every stage. We appreciate your understanding and patience at this time.


A Variety Sunshine Coach offers specially adapted, accessible transport for SEND schools and other non-profit organisations working with disabled or disadvantaged children and young people.

There are over 900 Sunshine Coaches in use around the UK, providing hassle-free transport for over 15,000 children a day.

Sunshine Coach

At a glance...

  • A Variety Sunshine Coach lasts for at least 10 – 12 years if it is well maintained.
  • In 2018, we provided 79 new Sunshine Coaches worth £2.5m to schools and organisations all over the UK.
  • An estimated 86% of passengers have a physical, learning or sensory disability.

What are Sunshine Coaches for?

Sunshine Coaches are donated by Variety to schools and children’s organisations for educational, recreational and vocational purposes. They take the hassle out of travel and are much easier to use than public transport. Given that annual running and maintenance costs are the only outlay involved, they are also considerably cheaper than private coach hire.

  • Sunshine Coaches form mobile classrooms by taking children to Forest Schools. These schools enable outdoor learning, often transforming behaviour and acting as a natural therapy.
  • For children with ASD, the coaches offer a safe and stable travelling environment that a child can come to trust, thereby reducing the frequency of sensory meltdowns.
  • For children living in poverty, the coaches provide access to trips and experiences the children would otherwise miss out on.
  • In children’s hospice settings, they provide families without transport the means to come and visit their sick children as well as safe transport for children receiving palliative care.
  • For a teenager who is the only wheelchair user in their class, a coach enables them to travel with their friends; rather than alone in a separate wheelchair-accessible taxi.

Each Sunshine Coach is unique and serves the needs of the school or organisation to which it belongs. Each Sunshine Coach has its own story to tell.

Worry-free travel

There are four types of Sunshine Coach to choose from, depending on your needs. If you require a vehicle with a rear tail lift, you can choose between a 13 and a 17-seater coach. For vehicles without a tail lift, the coaches come with 14 or 17 seats.

All vehicles come with flexible seating options which means that your Sunshine Coach can continue to meet your changing needs.

How Sunshine Coaches are funded

Each Sunshine Coach is a team fundraising effort between you, the beneficiary school or organisation that will be the owners of the vehicle, Variety and our donors. The beneficiary school or organisation generally funds around 35% of the cost of their coach through a one-off donation, while Variety’s donors subsidise the remaining 65%.

Often beneficiaries raise money for their donation through PTA activities, sponsored events or local grant funders. Our team can offer help and advice on how to get your donation together. You don’t need to have it in place before you apply for a coach.

Applying for a coach

You can find more information about the vehicles themselves along with our FAQ’s in the documents below. You can apply for a Sunshine Coach at any time simply by completing the form below and emailing it to coaches@variety.org.uk

Got a question or looking for more information? Give our Sunshine Coach Programme Manager, Jalpa Patel, a call on 020 7428 8108 or email us at coaches@variety.org.uk