A Suffolk charity combatting rural isolation has been praised in a Government report on how to tackle loneliness.

The Rural Coffee Caravan, which visits small Suffolk villages to help people access information and services, said it was “delighted” to be featured in the Government’s new strategy.

Launched by the Prime Minister Theresa May, the report “A Connected Society: A strategy for tackling loneliness” highlights the charity as an example of good practice. It says the charity helps people with many issues – mainly the need to be with other people. A service user quoted in the report said the charity was a “godsend”.

The report’s aim is to bring a new approach to tackling loneliness and its damaging effect on society, as highlighted by MP Jo Cox before her murder in 2016.

Ann Osborn, director of Rural Coffee Caravan, said she welcomed the Government’s initial step towards addressing loneliness. “We have been members of the Campaign to End Loneliness for many years, and met with The Jo Cox Foundation, so we have some ‘inside knowledge’ of the volume of campaigning work that has gone into this strategy,” she added. “We are delighted to be included as an example of good practice.”

Mrs Osborn also welcomed the report’s of AcreKent, which looks after the charity’s sister project, the South East (Coffee Information Project).

“It’s gratifying that our simple way of bringing rurally isolated people together is acknowledged as so effective,” she added. “Our own regular caravan visits to some of the most remote villages in Suffolk provide a welcoming place to meet and chat, with our trained listener volunteers who can also signpost or refer people to relevant support agencies.

However, she stressed that the strategy was only the first step.

“Loneliness, and its long-term impact on health and wellbeing, is a complex issue and the solution isn’t only a question of creating social activities,” Mrs Osborn added. “It’s our charity’s belief that we can all ‘do our bit’ to find ways of normalising connection with each other as part of everyday life. Simply smiling or greeting everyone we encounter in our own neighbourhood can make a difference. For a society to flourish and for loneliness to end, we must look out for one another, not only for ourselves.”

Visit www.ruralcoffeecaravan.org.uk for more information.