At the Rural Coffee Caravan we know that isolation doesn’t have to mean loneliness. To ward off loneliness people of all ages need *connection*.

Over the past 17 years the Rural Coffee Caravan has created social spaces in rural places and we’ve seen connection and relationships grow from the smallest of kindness – when people spend time with their neighbours, help each other out and have fun (yes, FUN)! This creates belonging, purpose, love and other feelings essential for our individual and collective wellbeing.

Covid-19 might be a time of physical distancing but our human need for connection remains but we have to find creative ways of doing it safely. We think that loneliness is everyone’s business now more than ever.

So here are some ways to support your neighbours and communities and ward off loneliness in a time of physical distancing. We believe the best chance our communities have is to react collectively to the challenges we will face in the coming weeks and months.

Our Rural Coffee Caravan Isolation Inspiration & Information section (below)

which we hope to grow over the coming weeks, is a resource bank containing

  • ideas & projects to occupy your time whilst you are staying home or self isolated
  • practical support information sheets and links
  • suggestions of ways to keep yourself and the more vulnerable members of your neighbourhood socially connected during periods of isolation.

It can also be found in the c-a-f-e (coffee and friends events) section of this website.

Rural Coffee Caravan’s Cascade of Kindness Facebook Group

invites people to share their actions of kindness, and experiences of kindness shown to them, so we can inspire a cascade of kind actions and highlight the wonderful ways folk are finding positive to overcome the negatives of their situations and the crisis. Let’s get #caremongering!

Rural Coffee Caravan Cascade of Kindness banner image with cascade of colourful drips and Dalai Lama quote

Our Rural Coffee Caravan  Where We’ll Be calendar

Instead of displaying our usual visits & events, we will start to collect & show local ‘community isolation events’ which have been co-ordinated for online participation and other means, so people can plot a diary of ways to have a cuppa & a chat, take part in a ‘Pop Up Couch Choir’, try an art/craft tutorial, watch a film or play or TV drama together-  and still find ways to share & connect.

If you have an event you’d like contribute to the calendar, please email us!

Isolation Inspiration & Information (Iso-Inspo-Info!)

We are now all being advised to ‘Stay Home’.

Scroll down for ideas and suggestions of ways to support your own well-being, and that of your neighbours and your community, to help ward off loneliness and maintain social connections in a time of physical distancing.

NHS logo

**We are a community organisation and not health professionals – your first port of call for all health questions and concerns should always be the NHS website.

World Health Organisation info post advertising their Whatsapp Covid-19 service

The World Health Organisation launched a messaging service on 20th March, with partners WhatsApp and Facebook, to help keep people safe from coronavirus. The messaging service will provide the latest news and information on coronavirus including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others. More details can be found in the ‘information’ category below.

We encourage any Suffolk community group, local coffee morning, social club or sports club who have had to suspend their activities and meetings at this time to join the c-a-f-e (coffee and friends events) network, so that we can help to keep everyone connected and share ideas. This network is full of venues and groups who bring people together week in week out across Suffolk . Although c-a-f-e will function in a different capacity for the time being, hopefully when this situation passes your community will want to stay part of this network and use it to host some activities. There will certainly be a lot of reconnecting to celebrate!

For more information and to join please EMAIL US

Happy Easter!

We’ve added an Easter Activity Feature to our Isolation Inspiration section and will be adding different activities for all ages to take part in. Whether you’re isolated with others or by yourself, take a look and see if you can find an activity to brighten your Easter, or your family’s, or your community’s…

  • EASTER ACTIVITY #1 – Take part in Suffolk Constabulary’s Under 12s Poster competition, running during the two-week Easter School Holidays. Design a colourful and bright poster with the tag line ‘Stay Home Save Lives, on A4 paper (or bigger). The poster should be displayed prominently in the front window of your home and should mention @suffolkpolice on it. Officers on patrol in local communities will then select random posters they see during the Easter School Holidays and leave a bag of chocolate eggs on the door step! More info & entry guidelines via the link.

    Suffolk U12s Easter Poster Competition advertisement
  • EASTER ACTIVITY #2 – Learn how to face paint an Easter Bunny! Join artist and children’s entertainer Sarah Patterson on Rooblidoo’s Facebook page for her Live – Bunny Face Paint Tutorial at 11am on Good Friday, 10th April. You will need orange, black, white, green and pink face paints, and a sponge and a brush.

    digital poster advertising face painting live session with Rooblidoo on her Facebook page at 11am on Fri 10th April - face paint a bunny

  • EASTER ACTIVITY #3 – Free Easter Colouring Sheets. Print and colour in this free, Easter Hare design from Suffolk Artist Celia Hart. Download the PDF via this link  or visit her website to find the link and see more of her beautiful print works.

    Easter Hare colouring design by Celia Hart

  • EASTER ACTIVITY #4 – Egg Decorating. There are all sorts of ways to decorate eggs to celebrate Easter. Good Housekeeping have collected a whopping 60 different Easy and Creative Easter Egg Ideas That Anyone Can DIY  – suggestions and links to tutorials from the simple to the more sophisticated. Ideas such as making festive party hats for your eggs to dress them for your Easter Brunch table, using dyed eggshells for mosaic, to marbling, and drawing faces and emoji eggs!

    Examples of 3 different suggestions of ways to decorate eggs for Easter from Good Housekeeping magazine

    3 examples of ways to decorate eggs for Easter, as collected by Good Housekeeping magazine. Mosiac, pinata, party hats

  • EASTER ACTIVITY #5Window Display Easter Egg Hunt Colouring. Sadly many locally organised community Easter Egg Hunts have had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus, so why not print and create your own! Colour them in and display them in your windows to give people on their daily exercise walk an Easter Egg Hunt to take part in! Here’s 10 pages of Easter Eggs to colour in from Super Colouring. Or find other Easter themed colouring activities – there are more free resources at

    Example of Easter Egg colouring templates

  • EASTER ACTIVITY #6 – Indoor Easter Egg Themed Hunt. There are some great ideas out there creating indoor Easter Egg Hunts, (which don’t have to ‘all be about the chocolate!’) for the members of your household. Make it more interactive – leave clues, hide puzzle pieces which have to be assembled at the end, create a letter hunt for a message which can be decoded at the end. There are more great suggestions at Good Housekeeping, and if you don’t feel like making up your own clues MadeForMums has printable riddles, clues and colour matching ideas to keep toddlers, preschoolers and children occupied in the activity.

    image showing different types of printable strips of clues and riddles for children's Easter Egg Hunt activity

  • EASTER ACTIVITY #7 – DIY Easter ‘Bonnets’. How about taking an old hat and sticking, fastening or sewing to it, items you can find in your house or from the foliage in your garden? Get creative! Give it a design theme! Take part in a friendly family ‘bonnet donning’ competition or parade once they’ve all been made! Or sit down to an Easter tea together wearing them, with the air of the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!’ Chasing Simplicity have some ideas on how to make DIY Easter Bonnets from scrap and recycling – for an eco-friendly Easter.

    photo of homemade Easter hats made by 'Chasing Simplicity' themed for Shaun the Sheep, Batman, Pikachu & Pink Easter Bunny

    If you haven’t got an old hat to use as your bonnet base – here’s a template for how to construct a Willy Wonka style top hat from recycled cardboard, from Rhubard & Wren

    2 photos showing stages of a DIY cardboard top hat by rhubarb and wren

Isolation Inspiration & Information (continued…)

  • Home But Not Alone. On 24th March Suffolk County Council and its partners launched a new app and helpline to support Suffolk people. The ‘Home But Not Alone’ campaign aims to connect people and groups who want to volunteer in their communities with neighbours who are most in need. All details and offers of support can be logged and matched using a new app, Tribe Volunteer, and the freephone helpline 0800 876 6926 will be staffed from 9am to 5pm, seven days a week.. Click here for more information.

  • Join or start a CovidAidUK group. This amazing volunteer run network has a really useful step by step guide to help people start getting organised street-by-street as well as links to local groups which are being added to every hour. More resources and information on their website and Twitter page.

  • Identify people’s communications needs and help those who aren’t digitally savvy get more confident: If you have neighbours who aren’t as digitally savvy as you but do have devices, help get them set up with video conferencing and help them to become more confident. You could even try and do this over a landline phone in order to keep a safe distance. Where people don’t have a device, a phone tree or similar tool could be used to communicate via landline.

  • Coordinate a phone tree which includes a handful of your neighbours. These are a useful way of passing messages around small social networks but could be vital social contact for those stuck at home in the weeks ahead. A 10 minute check in or friendly chat can make all the difference to help people feel less isolated. There are instructions online how to set these up, like this.

    Illustration of an example of a phone tree

  • Find creative ways to just have a chat: Whether it’s on the phone, down Skype, through FaceTime, having a Zoom call or through a window at a safe distance – we know the power of just having a chat.

  • Go old fashioned – write a letter!: Try writing letters sending handmade cards to people who are isolated. It’s a wonderful way to send cheer and keep in touch. Royal Mail have a section updating people about their services amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

    Royal Mail digital poster advising that they are still delivering despite unprecedented circumstances, Image shows post van driving on a road between a rocky landscape with a sea view in the background.

  • Get social: Look out for fun ways to get together with other people and do things, you could even start something yourself. It could be as simple as starting a book club with a handful of neighbours which meets online or over the phone (there are free online resources available: Project Gutenberg has a library of over 60,000 free eBooks, or Audible offers a free 30 day trial for audiobooks), join a singing group or take exercise classes online that are being organised for free.

  • Have you thought about volunteering? You may be stuck at home but you can still be useful. Could you possibly be a telephone befriender for example? If you are a community group helping local people you can register this with Community Action Suffolk to that they can signpost people to you.

    You could also help support the NHS. Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily at to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:

    • delivering medicines from pharmacies;
    • driving patients to appointments;
    • bringing them home from hospital;
    • or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

    More information at NHS England.

  • Look out for people sitting in a window and smile & wave. Lots of older people like to sit by their window and watch the world go by. That connection will be so important for so many. You may even start a friendship in spite of the physical distance.

    Image of an older lady sitting looking out of a window

  • Share your WiFi during the coronavirus lockdown. TinsleyNET points out that as libraries and community hubs have been closed as part of the government’s attempts to manage the Covid-19 virus pandemic, some users who relied on their free internet access may have found themselves cut off from the internet. If you have elderly neighbours or neighbours who don’t have access to internet services, you could help them during the period of self isolation or social distancing, by sharing your guest access internet connection with them.

    Using the guest network segregates their devices from your own WiFi meaning there’s not chance of computer viruses crossing over from one side to the other. Follow the link above for more info. If you need help setting up your Guest WiFi they have a FREE IT Support Page.

  • Free DAB digital Radio for over 70s. From Monday 30 March, the charity WaveLength, along with Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis & Partners, Pure and Roberts Radio, are coming together with BBC Local Radio’s Make a Difference initiative, to provide radios to the most vulnerable over 70s. They invite people to nominate someone for a free radio by completing an online application form. WaveLength was founded in 1939 to fight loneliness. As the oldest loneliness and technology charity, they give radios, televisions, and tablet computers to those most in need.

    image of a DAB Radio

  • Beware of SCAMS and SCAMMERS taking advantage of people during the crisis. The National Trading Standards website has a section warning people of the current Covid-19 Scams which are circulating. Visit the site for more information on scams which include doorstep criminals offering to do shopping, online email and fake resource scams, refund scams, counterfeit goods, telephone scams, donation scams and illegal money lenders.

    National Trading Standards postcard advertising warnings of covid-19 scams

    If you receive a phone call from someone purporting to be from your bank or similar, advising that you can have a holiday period from your mortgage, or credit cards, or loan, and asking for all of your details to check this for you DO NOT GIVE OUT your details in this way. Always contact your bank, lender or mortgage provider directly on the trusted numbers or email addresses you have for them, if you need to confirm your current situation.

  • Message from Inspector Becky Kidd-Stanton of the Neighbourhood Partnership Team at Suffolk Police: “We are aware of the wider impact of the Coronavirus on our communities. From a policing perspective, please be assured that our role remains the same. Our police officers and police staff will continue to protect the public, investigate crime and bring offenders to justice. Our control room staff will continue to assess every incident reported to the police and will deploy our resources accordingly. As you would expect, priority will be given to incidents where the public are at imminent risk of harm. We would like to reassure the community that we will continue to have measures in place to ensure we protect the most vulnerable people in our community.

    Like other organisations, we are experiencing increased demand on our services. We would encourage the public to use online reporting wherever possible for non-urgent reports.  If this is not possible, please use 101. However, if an incident is taking place at the time this should be reported immediately on 999. Although our community engagement officers are not currently able to carry out their normal role with face to face public engagements, they will still be undertaking their work on the telephone and on social media. [They can be contacted here.]  Our Diverse communities coordinator, Ginny Shoesmith is also still available for you to contact.

    Lastly, I would  like to take this opportunity to share a useful government  document with you.  We are aware that some people are having to stay at home and self-isolate. This document contains some  important information about how to stay safe whilst accepting help from others.”

    HMGOV Stay Safe information Poster

  • WARNING over Covid-19 home testing scams. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is warning the public not to open their doors to bogus healthcare workers claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Suspicious callers are said to have been knocking on doors of elderly and vulnerable residents in various parts of the UK, saying that they are health officials doing door-to-door testing. The CTSI’s message is “not to open the door to anyone you don’t know or anyone calling ‘out of the blue’.” Coronavirus related fraud reports have increased 400% in March. Visit Action Fraud for information & advice on dealing with the latest scams, and to report one you have experienced or witnessed.

  • If you receive a cosmetically correct text or email which you think might be a scam, a place to check these out is It is the UK’s independent fact checking charity and they have added a coronavirus section. People are currently receiving texts purporting to be from GOV.UK with the promise of a Covid-19 Relief payment which goes on to harvest personal data. Never engage with suspicious texts or emails. Never hand over your personal information to someone contacting you by phone or text or email in this way. Always approach the organisation/company/business the message purports to be from by contacting them yourself via their official contact number.

    screengrab image of scam text purporting to be from

  • Another scam is a text like this appearing to be from HMRC informing people of a supposed ‘goodwill payment of £258. DO NOT click the link if you receive it and please warn those in your life who may be susceptible. ALWAYS be suspicious when receiving such texts or emails and if need be contact the organisation the message purports to be from directly, using their official contact details.

    image of a mobile phone screen displaying a scam text

  • Grow spring and summer vegetables and flowers for cutting, in your garden or in pots, such as cut and come again lettuces, and pop them outside your door with a ‘help yourself’ sign.

  • Dance Exercise Classes. Want to get moving at home? Our wonderful friends at DanceEast  have launched an online timetable of classes. These light dance exercises are great for raising morale, and reducing the negative effects of inactivity and inevitable boredom! There are classes for tots under 4 years, children, teens, over 16s and chair based exercises, spanning creative dance, ballet, contemporary, pilates and yoga. We’ve added the classes to our Rural Coffee Caravan Calendar of online events  – so why not take a look and incorporate them into your day? Follow the schedule to dance together online, or catch up via their YouTube Channel.

    Timetable of online dance classes from DanceEast - Home is where the dance is.

  • Lift your spirits with a bird table and hanging bird feeders in your garden. Friends/family/neighbours having to isolate? Keep their bird feed stocked. They are a great way to bring wildlife to your doorstep and a joy to watch if mobility can be an issue, particularly coming into spring with young fledglings about! The RSPB have activities to take part in such as RSPB Birdwatch and have online resources to help identify different birds.

  • Keep fit and active indoors even if the gym is closed or your walking or running group has had to suspend activities. If you have a Smart TV and Broadband you can access apps on there to practise a new daily exercise. How about a form of yoga that suits you?

    Try these home fitness workout videos from NHS Fitness Studio. Take your pick from 24 instructor-led videos across aerobics exercise, strength and resistance, and pilates and yoga categories.

  • Tips on staying calm during the coronavirus outbreak. Stress and anxiety can stop the immune system from working so well, meaning we are more susceptible to catching any bugs or viruses, so it is essential now to be doing as much as possible to release stress. By remaining calm, we are more able to respond to developing situations more objectively rather than getting lost in a spiral of panic, fear and catastrophising thoughts. Advance Hypnotherapy have useful tips and techniques you can practice at home.

  • Coping Calendar suggesting daily actions to look after ourselves as we face this global crisis together. Action for Happiness helps people take action for a happier and more caring world, their website offers ideas for taking care of ourselves and others.

    Action for happiness coping calendar for April offering ideas for daily activities

    Their previous, 30 day coping calendar with more suggestions can be found here, and there are other useful resources on their website. Join their 10 Days of Happiness program and watch talks from inspiring speakers on their Youtube channel.

  • Identifying birdsong activity. Lev Parikian, conductor, writer (and self confessed atrocious birdwatcher) has created a beginners British birdsong compilation from a series of ‘Tweets’ he posted on his Twitter account feed. They can be found at Twitter Birdsong Project. See if you can recognise the birds heard in your own garden; listen and learn the various British bird calls; if you’re isolated with others in your house, maybe play a game by testing each-other. or simply enjoy the sounds of our British birds if you’re stuck indoors. The resource is free, but Lev invites you to ‘buy him a coffee’ if you enjoy the project!

  • How about writing a journal to record your experiences during the coronavirus outbreak? Day to day life for everyone has altered for a period of time; you could write down your observations of the differences you notice; the kindnesses you’ve been shown; your reflections during isolation; the things you are most looking forward to once life returns to normal again. There are some great ones available to buy online, or just use a notebook or sketchbook to write, draw & collage in, to make your own.

  • Another idea is to treat yourself to a seasonal Almanac. Charting nature as the months change, following the sea, moon cycles, sky at night, flowers & plants and fruit & vegetables – with seasonal recipes, folklore and natural history.

    Image of front cover of Lia Leendertz's 2020 Illustrated Almanac

  • Join the Self Isolating Bird Club. A virtual space on Facebook for birdwatchers and enthusiasts alike to share their pictures and videos of wildlife across the world during the COVID-19 crisis. “Reconnecting with nature is important during this time & we should encourage relatives and friends whilst self-isolating to spend some time engaging with the natural world, whether it be from their window, or in their garden”.

  • Guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (Covid-19).  Gov.UK have produced documents offering guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus, and an easy to read guide to looking after your feelings and your body throughout the pandemic.

    Suffolk County Council are posting regular ‘Coronavirus in Suffolk’ updates on their Twitter page, on the latest Government guidance as it is released, and other news and guidance which affects our county.

  • The World Health Organisation has launched a messaging service with partners WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from coronavirus.

    This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.

    From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, this messaging service will provide the latest news and information on coronavirus including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others. It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.

    The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. Users can simply type “hi” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

    World Health Organisation info post advertising their Whatsapp Covid-19 service

  • Suffolk Refugee Support are offering a telephone service on 01473 400785 on a Monday, Tuesday and Friday 9.30am – 4.30pm (their normal drop in hours) for Refugees and Asylum seekers. Clients will be asked to provide their name, number and a reason for calling and then a designated member of the advice team will call them back. They are also regularly calling those clients believed to be most vulnerable and they are thinking and working towards remote ways to continue to engage those clients who had been attending the groups.

  • Get to know neighbours’ names: Post notes through neighbours’ doors (here’s a sample postcard you could use) and get to know one another’s names where you don’t already. If you are in a village we visit and would like to offer an extra layer of trust, you could use our Rural Coffee Caravan template for this. Email us and we’ll send you the file. Relationships move at the speed of trust so it might take a while to build rapport particularly in disconnected communities. Keep going!

  • Self Isolation posters which could be useful to display to potential visitors & couriers of how exposure to Covid-19 could be detrimental to your health, and advising where to leave deliveries at your property. Chronically Awesome Tribe have produced a set of free downloads via their website/Facebook page, or those without printing facilities can buy the posters online.

  • Coronavirus: how to clean your home effectively. Get tips from Which? on what to focus on when cleaning, what cleaning products are effective, and why you don’t need to splurge on specialist antibacterial products.

  • Suggest or co-ordinate a paper ‘traffic light’ system to vulnerable, isolated neighbours. They can display a green piece of paper in the window to let people know that they are ok, or a red piece to express the need for assistance with shopping, medication or anything else. It would be a good idea to ask them to put a second piece of paper which displays the date or day of the week next to the coloured one. This would help ensure that people know that the colour code is current for that day, to guard against situations where the neighbour has been unable to change the paper from green to red for reasons such as becoming unwell or immobile, and so that it doesn’t appear that help is not needed when it actually might be.

    image showing window with green piece of paper displayed in it

  • Suffolk Coalition Of Disabled People are offering a telephone contact service – for people who are disabled, carers or anyone in isolation that wants someone to chat to.  They can be contacted on: 07718 563751 or via their website. They’ll able to call people back if they a name and telephone number – they do not need other details. They are also happy to accept referrals if they have the permission to pass on the above details. They are available Monday – Saturday 8 am – 8pm

  • Concerns about your Energy Supply & Pre-Payment Energy Meters during the pandemic: Important News for people with Pre-Payment Meters who are concerned they may not be able to add credit during the coronavirus pandemic can be found on the GOV.UK website: (link to the article here). New emergency measures with the energy industry have been agreed by the government to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by COVID-19. Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied. Ofgem‘s Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your energy supply page also has advice on managing your energy supply during the outbreak, including what to do

    • if you have an energy problem (e.g. power cut, gas leak or energy meter problem)
    • if a supplier or network company needs to access your property and you are self-isolating
    • if you are struggling to pay your bills
    • regarding approaching your supplier about pre-payment concerns.
  • Take part in a ‘Sketch a Day challenge or create an individual or family sketchbook journal of your isolation experience. The Brooklyn Art Library is home to over 41,000 sketchbooks from 130 countries. Over 25,000 of these have been scanned and can be viewed for free, and their Sketchbook Project invites you to participate and contribute your own sketchbook.

  • Visit a virtual museum or art gallery. The V&A, British Musuem, Guggenheim Musuem, National Gallery of Art Washington, The Louvre, Van Gogh Museum and more, all offer ways to access their collections online.

  • Learn to knit or crochet, or discover origami, or even learn a new language? If you have access to Youtube there are tutorials for practically everything! Learn a language with an app like Duolingo? Not sure how to access apps, ask a techy person to guide you over the phone. Once you’ve done it once it’s a breeze but beware of charges. There are many excellent free apps.

  • Watch a Play, Broadway or West End Musical Theatre Show, Opera, Ballet or Contemporary Dance from home.  ClassicFM  has an updating list of all the major Broadway, London West End and other shows being streamed online. With Broadway and London’s West End shows cancelled or postponed for the time being as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, fans of all-singing-all-dancing stage entertainment can now can get their musical theatre fix online via live streaming.  Other sources to check out live theatre events and recordings are National Theatre Live, and BroadwayHD. You can also pre-order online Theatre performances from  The Original Theatre Company and Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Opera and Theatre are also available on demand from Marquee TV via subsrciption, but they have extended their FREE trial to 30 days in light of the world coronavirus pandemic.

    NB. Some of these online performances will be streamed free, and some require payment or subscription so always read the sign up details thoroughly and remember to cancel any free trial before it ends so as not to incur unwanted charges. If you can’t get out to see a show due to current world situations, then consider buying a ticket to an online performance, or a subscription to a theatre, as a way to support the arts through this difficult time.

  • Window Displays are a great idea to send a message of cheer to anyone on their daily exercise in fresh air. Some are placing teddy bears in windows to create a ‘bear hunt’. Perhaps your volunteers community group can co-ordinate a neighbourhood one? Neighbours could place displays based on a theme in their windows on certain days, and then parents with children on a walk could see how many they can find. On St Patrick’s Day a  Shamrock Trail was organised in Ottawa. There are also messages of positivity and support going up in windows and on fences, many thanking the NHS, so why not add your own to cheer someone up?

    collage of photos showing paintings of rainbows placed in windows and on fences

    Paintings of Rainbows in windows and on fences to raise a smile and show support. This fence painting found in Kesgrave Community Group, photo by Jennifer Pearson.

  • The King Lear Prizes is a new national creative arts competition for over 70s stuck at home because of coronovirus. They aim to encourage ordinary people, who have never been published before and are not professional writers, musicians or artists, to create new works of literature, poetry, music and art during the time they are quarantined. Their are prizes of £1,000 for each category of Short Story, Poetry, Solo Musical Competition, Short Drama and Art, participants need not have any previous experience, and the closing deadline is Friday 29th May. Follow the link for more info. The short-listed and winning submissions will be made public on The King Lear Prizes website and email newsletter. There is also a Facebook Page with more info.

  • Get young ones involved in RSPB Giving Nature a Home. Badges can be earned by completing an activity from 6 different categories. Some activities may only take an hour, but they all add up to make a big difference. You could be helping the RSPB to collect important data, or even end up being the warden of your own mini reserve.

  • A calendar of daily creative distractions for the month of April. The Cares Family have compiled this printable one  and we’ve added each of them to our calendar to invite you to take part. Tick your ‘daily distraction’ off the list, share it to @TheCaresFamily Twitter account and please consider donating to this wonderful charity to support their Covid-19 emergency response. They are also working to help older people stay in touch during this disconnecting time.

    You can find the printable checklist for the month in our Isolation Inspiration and Information  section.

  • 5 ways to connect to nature… Mayfields Nurseries have put together some ways to help your wellbeing journeys through horticulture and nature at home.

    Mayfields Nurseries is a plant nursery, social enterprise & part of @SolentMind providing horticultural therapy & a supportive community for people with mental health problems.

    info graphic from Mayfields Nurseries illustrating 5 ways to connect to nature with suggestions of ways to bring the outside in, ways to use indoor plants, creative ideas, urban gardening and outdoor mindfulness.

  • Family support resource pack from Suffolk Parent Careers Network. This regularly updated support pack will have advice on how to talk to children and young people about coronavirus as well as strategies to support their mental health and emotional wellbeing. There’s also an information pack with links to education, health and care services intended as a trusted source of information for parents and carers about Covid-19 (Coronavirus). The ‘packs’ are in PDF format so can be downloaded to your device, but printed copies can be requested.

  • Talking to your child about coronovirus. Children look to adults in their life for comfort when they are distressed, and will take a lead on how to view things from you. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers, but it is better to have a gentle conversation to reassure your child that they can talk to you so they don’t feel like they’re on their own. have some conversation starter suggestions and tips on how to contain any fears of anxieties your child may have about coronavirus. They have an A-Z Parents Guide to Support on their website, and a Parents Helpine if you need to chat to someone. More info and posts on their Facebook Page.

    poster from with conversation starter suggestions on how to talk to children about coronavirus

  • Listen to a free audio story every day at 11am from one of David Walliams’ World’s Worst Children stories. Sit down, take a break, and enjoy 20ish minutes of pure fun!

  • The Scouts Association has pulled together some inspired indoor activity ideas. Whilst they normally love the great outdoors they are experts in developing skills and bringing adventure to young people, so offer these suggestions to keep your kids learning new skills and having fun (and avoid hearing ‘I’m bored’ every 30 seconds) all in #TheGreatIndoors.

    digital poster of illustration of childrens play/activity items to advertise the UK Scout Association's Great Indoors promotion

  • Maths and movement, educational play idea (from Suffolk residents Katie & Evie). When the sun is shining – why work indoors when you can play out in the garden! You just need chalk, a patio/path and an old bottle out of your recycling bin. A ketchup one or a shower gel one has a satisfying squirt!  The rules are simple, write numbers on the ground in chalk (right and wrong answers), give them the equation and they have to work it out, find and squirt the right answer away with water. Lots of fun, so much so that they ask for more questions! You’re also incorporating physical movement and building up the muscles in the hand by squeezing the bottle. Extend it and used it for literacy too, finding and squirting adjectives and nouns. Grab a bottle and go have some fun!

    four images of child playing outdoor maths game with squirty water bottle and chalked numbers on the ground

  • Home Butterfly Farm Kit. Schooling at home? Here’s a great project to span a few weeks! Why not nurture some caterpillars and watch them grow into butterflies before letting them go, with this kit from Insect Lore ?

    photo of Insect Lore Butterfly Garden kit showing box and contents

  • Listening Books, is a small audiobook charity. It offers its Sound Learning library of audiobooks, supporting the National Curriculum from Key Stage 2 to A-Level, providing set texts and study guides. They also have a Downloadable audiobook library,  ideal for those who might struggle to read or hold a book due to illness, disability, learning or mental health difficulty, and a selection of Read-a-long titles for younger members: picture based e-books that appear with the audio narration, so younger members can follow the text as the story is read.


  • 10 ways to regrow food in water! A great free activity for children, or a useful way to stretch the grocery budget! Don’t waste the crumbs has tips and advice on how to regrow foods such as celery, leeks, carrot greens, cabbage, lettuce & green onions.

    photo showing 3 stages of a lettuce regrowing from scraps, from Don't Waste The

  • A FREE digital book explaining the coronavirus, for primary school aged children, illustrated by Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler. The book can be read online or printed out, and explains all about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. Published by Nosy Crow, and written by staff within the company, the book has had expert input: Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant, and the company also had advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist. The book answers key questions in simple language appropriate for 5 to 9 year olds.

    Front cover image of 'Coronavirus, A book for children' illustrated by Axel Scheffler

  • Is this the perfect time to study something new? The Open University has a whole host of FREE online courses to choose from!

  • Under 18s can enrol for FREE on the British Sign Language course at at the moment, during the coronavirus crisis, saving £25 per student. Why not help your under 18s learn a skill/language that wouldn’t normally be on the curriculum at school?

    facebook post showing british sign language course fee removal during covid-19

  • 10 University Art Classes You Can Take for Free Online. Interested in mastering a new, hands-on creative skill? You can learn to draw your own comics or capture artful digital photographs. Wish you could brush up on Art History 101? There are courses exploring the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt and the development of the artistic avant-garde. In this article, the team at Artsy have rounded up 10 of their favorite art and design classes offered by colleges and universities across the globe.

Rural Coffee Caravan Statement – Coronavirus (Covid-19) 13.03.2020

With the ongoing spread of new Coronavirus, and the understanding that the virus is now distributing within the population and is a particular risk for older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions,

The Rural Coffee Caravan has decided to suspend all our visits and events until further notice.

This is to ensure that we do not contribute to the spread of the virus from individual to individual, that we protect those most at risk of serious harm from contraction, and to minimise the risk to the wider community, volunteers and staff.

The health of our neighbours and our wider community is our number one priority. 

Alex Smith (Founder of the Cares Family) said on March 12th 2020 “In times of challenge and change, how we stay together and help to connect those most at risk of social isolation and social distancing – not just now, but in normal times too – will come into sharper focus”.

We agree and so, going forward we will continually be looking for ways for neighbours to stay socially connected while physically distanced.

Each and every community we work with is different, so what will keep people connected and safe in the days and weeks ahead will be different for everyone.

If you have ideas on how to keep people connected and healthy in the weeks ahead please don’t hesitate to let us know.

We are all in this together.

We will closely monitor the situation and will update our position regularly but our hope is to resume outdoor visits in the summer.

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 in usual circumstances 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. At present we all find ourselves experiencing a situation where even if we had access to these services before, we are now all isolated from them.

We usually 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. During the coronavirus outbreak we have suspended our visits until it is safe and advisable to do so, but we aim to use our resources, networks, website and social media to move this information online and pursue ways to reach those folk who do not have internet access, in order to still keep individuals and communities connected to each other.

Our Recent News

  • Roy Hudd With staff and volunteers from RCC

Roy Hudd

March 16th, 2020|

We are so sad to learn of the death of Roy Hudd. Roy was a firm fan of the Coffee Caravan and spoke warmly of us often. In this photo he is opening Mr Allards [...]

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.

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!


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.

“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 four vehicles, a caravan, two camper vans and a car, 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 the work we’ve accomplished in previous years, follow the links below to read our annual reviews.