Rural Coffee Caravan has been providing companionship and practical assistance to residents within the beautiful but often isolated villages of Suffolk, and whose societal needs have often been overlooked, for nearly 20 years.

By travelling directly into the hearts of those communities, courtesy of our fleet of ‘Coffee Caravans,’ the RCC has become a welcome and familiar sight as we purposefully crisscross the county.

Now, with a proud fleet of three distinctive Camper Vans alongside our trusty Caravan, the charity is on the road every day, delivering not only generous supplies of coffee, tea and cake, but also a wealth of information and advice about all kinds of services and benefits, as well as info on other organisations that can assist residents to lead happy, healthy and independent lives.

photo of Rural Coffee Caravan visitor
photo of Rural Coffee Caravan visit inside a village hall in action 2

So whether it’s via a freshly made cup of coffee, a friendly listening ear or an armful of helpful information, the Rural Coffee Caravan staff and volunteers are continually ‘On the ground’ and understand only too well the multiplicity of challenges that Suffolk residents face on a daily basis. And none more so than the panic that has been generated by the cost of living crisis and energy price hikes of 2022, which are threatening to overwhelm people who are already struggling with the financial, social, and healthcare effects of the aftermath of the Covid Pandemic, and the many, many issues that have since arisen.

‘We are witnessing the greatest upsurge of need, coupled with the most enormous amount of anxiety about an almost inevitable accumulation of debt with energy suppliers, because for many, many Suffolk residents, the steeply rising costs are simply impossible to comprehend, let alone make provision for’ says Ann Osborn, Chief Exec of RCC.

So the Rural Coffee Caravan has once again seized the initiative by very clearly calling for different forms of the very practical assistance the charity personifies.

Community Kindness

Firstly, the Coffee Caravan wants to identify and map out every community space across the entire County of Suffolk that is prepared to help this winter –  simply by opening their doors and extending a warm welcome to nearby residents.

So, big space or small, library or community hall, church annexe or village pub, or indeed any similar building that is able to provide a warm and cosy space for people to visit and keep warm, without worrying about the bill, we’re asking for your help.

‘We know the power of community, and this is the most literal way to provide this, with warm spaces and friendly faces in equal measure’  says Ann.

Screengrab of RCC Warm Spaces map

Click on the image to be taken to the map page.

Secondly, RCC wish to expand their already successful ‘Cooking with Kindness” appeal.

This was established in 2020 to raise funds to purchase slow cookers, to be given to those most in need, alongside a simple, practical demonstration of how they work.

Put simply, a slow cooker can, for the amount of electricity equivalent to a single lightbulb, prepare a healthy, nutritious, inexpensive meal from the most modest ingredients.

RCC Appeal 2022-2023 item examples

This winter, we want to buy as many slow cookers as we possibly can, but to also purchase hot water bottles, wearable blankets, warm fleeces, and electric blankets (also reassuringly inexpensive to run).

These are all items that we can simply deliver straight from our vans into homes where their value may be incalculable at the moment, so great, and so real are the concerns of many RCC users.

It’s easy to donate by simply going to our Local Giving page.

photo of Rural Coffee Caravan team member standing in front of one of the campervans, distributing slow cookers

Direct Kindness

It’s also very clear that the real strength of Rural Coffee Caravan is their simplicity of purpose- to gather supplies and to go directly into communities, and to provide their services completely free of charge.

Now the charity is asking that community hubs of all shapes and sizes  are equally direct in their welcome, so that they too can become havens of kindness, warmth and hope.

It’s going to be a tough winter,  and RCC know that they cannot prevent the difficulties that will occur, but they can, and they will continue to stand up, speak up, and indeed drive up for Suffolk.

Article written by Jennifer Love, Rural Coffee Caravan volunteer.