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Charity (no. 1125748)

The Rural Coffee Caravan

"Tackling rural isolation and promoting community spirit in Suffolk."

Who We Help, Why We Help & the Difference It Makes

Rural communities are changing and nearly a third of England’s population now live in rural districts. The elderly, in particular, are often left isolated as children move away and the village has little left to offer them in terms of services and support. Young mums and other carers can feel cut off from their communities and in need of support.

In these difficult times, it is vitally important that people know where to access help if they need it, be it financial (e.g. benefits, help with debts), physical (e.g. mobility aids, health information) or even emotional support. 

Many communities have very limited public transport, perhaps they have no pub or have lost their shop or Post Office. This can be a real body blow to some because it doesn’t only remove the service but also (and just as importantly), it removes the chance to meet other locals, to pass the time of day and generally interact as a part of everyday life. If there is no reason to go out to buy milk for example, or to collect a pension, then many people get out of the habit of going out at all, this in turn increases the instance of depression and loneliness. 

The Rural Coffee Caravan can help by providing not only information but also a meeting place.

Our Services Are


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What We Do

By providing an information service as well as a free community cafe with free tea, coffee and cakes, The Rural Coffee Caravan serves many purposes; villagers can simply use it to be with fellow residents or even to meet them for the first time. 

Using us as facilitators in this regard, helps overcome any lack of confidence they may have developed because of feeling isolated.

We do not act as a counselling service, but an area of the Caravan is available for private conversation. Of course, not everyone will be in search of information or advice. 

If someone has just moved into the area, they might like to meet their neighbours. Even if they’ve lived there a while, there may be new people they haven’t had the chance to meet. 

In some villages, there’s nowhere to socialise and it can be hard to meet people if one is retired or working at home. A break for coffee and a chat could be the ideal way to make life that bit more interesting.

We can also be on hand to offer support and information to any emerging village group, a toddler group, for example, or perhaps an over 60s club.  If we don’t have the information required, or the solution to a problem, we will try to find it and point you in the right direction.

As well as volunteers, the Coffee Caravan often takes along representatives from voluntary organisations such as Age UK and from local councils to explain what help and services are available to people. It also provides a useful place where community police officers get to meet the locals and chat about their concerns.

Click here to find out where we'll be and when

Book a Visit 

Visit slots are Monday to Friday 10-12 or 2-4. We will do a few weekend visits through the year so it’s always worth asking, but be aware that it depends on volunteer availability. All we need is space and permission to park and set out our tables and chairs, ideally with easy access for everyone. We will supply you with publicity material for you to post in your village. Just spread the word so everyone knows we are coming and we will do the rest. Our visits are free but we welcome donations. 

If you would like to know more please do get in touch. You can call us on 01379 855338 or email using the form on our website.

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The service is run almost entirely by some 50 volunteers with a paid part-time project manager, a paid project officer and paid part-time administrator. The project enables volunteers to build their skills, confidence and employability and has helped many to become community champions within their own villages, acting as catalysts of change. So if you are you looking for new and interesting ways of helping people and improving your skills or maybe you’ve always dreamed of towing a caravan, then a rewarding and enjoyable volunteering opportunity is waiting for you! 

We are particularly looking for

  • volunteer drivers to tow the caravan to rural Suffolk villages between April and October. You will be driving our new Mobility van, which we use to tow the caravan. No regular commitment is required, just whatever you can offer. Full training is given and your expenses paid (and there’s delicious cake while you work!)
  • volunteers to listen and chat to visitors (full training given)
  • landowners who would be happy to store the caravan overnight (to minimise our towing miles)
  • people to bake cakes for us (your expenses paid).

Connect with The Rural Coffee Caravan today to find out more

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Additional Info

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