Welcome to our website

The Rural Coffee Caravan delivers information and friendship across Suffolk. Information is power – and the Rural Coffee Caravan  befriends people and offers them access to the information they need to empower them.

Knowing what’s going on in our own communities isn’t always easy. It is especially difficult if access to transport is limited, or the village shop or pub or post office has gone, or you live in one of Suffolk’s very scattered parishes. We bring the Project to rural communities, equipped with coffee, tea & homemade cakes, along with all sorts of information about organisations and the services they offer you.

I would like to thank you for your valuable advice about the possibilities available from MSDC for various aspects of funding for our Village Hall project.

As you know our new building is now finished and will be officially opened on July 7th.

Sue, Drinkstone Village Hall
Dave, Roger, Harold & myself attended Shotley, Brandon & Red Lodge with our Meccano, Hornby displays last year.

We had a very enjoyable time at each visit with lots of interest on our respective displays. The organisers went out of their way to ensure our attendance went without a hitch, food & drink was well presented and all attendees where very friendly and helpful.

Hope we can help you all again sometime this year.

Ron Frith
We attended the Coffee Caravan event in Brandon last year, we were very pleased to be invited to such an informative and interesting day!

It was packed full of stands with information and help for the local community. We certainly made some new contacts. We hope to do it again later this year.

The coffee was good too !!!!

Jenny Pease, Scheme Manager, Heathcote House, Brandon
Thank you for a lovely morning and the lift home. I really enjoyed meeting everyone. Please could you pass my thanks also to the gentleman who made me such a lovely cup of tea, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten his name though.

After I’ve finished this e-mail I’ll be searching Amazon for the cookbook you were telling me about.

Gillian
The Coffee Caravan has been visiting Redlingfield for two years now and from a population of not much more than 100 we get a turn-out of 20-plus for their visits.

I would urge any village – large or small – to consider the benefits of their visits. If they stopped, many villagers would miss the regular meetings with the exceptionally friendly and well informed staff and volunteers.

Mike Ager, Clerk - Redlingfield Parish Meeting
On behalf of the Rattlesden Good Neighbours Scheme I would like to thank the Coffee Caravan and its helpers for visiting Rattlesden.

We feel that the Rural Coffee Caravan is essential as it encourages rural villages, like ours,to do the things they have always done but that somehow were forgotten. It is so good that they are reminding us what “community” is about.

We look forward to further visits.

Jennifer Moore , Secretary - Rattesden Good Neighbours Scheme
Rural Coffee Caravan has given Ashbocking residents a friendly, confidential, impartial source of information for a variety of services and organisations, as well as a good reason to meet and share ideas together, with easy activities, coffee and cake!

Perfect!

Anna, Ashbocking
Thank you so much for your regular visits to our Village Lunch mornings in Stansfield village. Our village lunch attracts people from several of the surrounding villages, as well as residents of Stansfield.

We are most grateful for this useful resource, and its always a pleasure to have you join us, Garry.

Long may the Rural Coffee Caravan continue to enhance our life in this area of Suffolk.

Sally Carter, Organiser - Stansfield Village Lunch

About Us

The Rural Coffee Caravan started up in 2003 to tackle rural isolation and promote community spirit.

The Project was the brainchild of the Rev Canon Sally Fogden. Sally was manning a helpline in Suffolk for the Farm Crisis Network (a national charity providing wide ranging support for the farming community in the UK) and felt very strongly that there was a need to do something to combat the stress of rural isolation.

Sally and some colleagues hit upon the idea of a mobile community cafe and information centre. So they purchased a caravan, gathered together some relevant information, made some cakes and took the caravan into rural Suffolk.

Their little enterprise was an instant hit and, encouraged by this response they applied for and received some funding and the Rural Coffee Caravan was born.

The caravan started out visiting rural communities in Mid Suffolk during the summer months. Since then it has spread its wings across the whole of the county and continued to grow. There is now a second vehicle – a campervan which visits village halls and coffee mornings year-round.

The information provided by the Coffee Caravan has helped many people gain access to the benefits, services and information they need and in one exceptional case played a fundamental part in the village of Bruisyard building a village hall.

The Coffee Caravan also helps foster community spirit by bringing people together in a relaxed social atmosphere to just chat and get to know each other better.

More and more villages want the Coffee Caravan to visit and the list of agencies wanting their information taken out to rural Suffolk continues to grow.

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“Making a difference to rural communities throughout Suffolk”

In case you think we’re just another coffee morning, we’re not – we’re a great deal more than that. 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. The Rural Coffee Caravan is an inclusive independent charity funded by local councils, grant-making bodies and private donations. It provides support and guidance to rural communities and offers a place for people to meet and access to relevant information.

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. We can help by providing not only information but also a meeting place.

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.

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.

The Rural Coffee Caravan has been operating in rural Suffolk since 2003, concentrating on villages that have no village hall or one that is little used. We use two vehicles, a caravan and a camper van, to travel round and visit villages and village groups.

By providing an information service as well as a free community cafe with free tea, coffee and cakes, it 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.

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.

We make no charge for this service; all we suggest is that visitors may like to make a small donation. If you would like to know more please do get in touch.

If you want to know more about what we did in 2011 and what we plan for the future our annual report and a list of statistics for last year are now available online. Click to see our2011 Annual Report and the complete list of 2011 visits.

GET IN TOUCH
GET IN TOUCH