Coffee caravan charity coming up with new ways to fight isolation, despite coronavirus

Ann Osborn, CEO of Rural Coffee Caravan Picture: SAM DAWES

Ann Osborn, CEO of Rural Coffee Caravan Picture: SAM DAWES - Credit: Archant

Suffolk charity Rural Coffee Caravan is reaching out to keep people connected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the charity has had to temporarily suspend its visits and events in villages around the county, chief executive Ann Osborn said: “We want to come up with creative and imaginative ways to keep people connected.”

She added: “We are trying to get away from the term ‘social distancing’, which is very disconcerting.”

The charity works to combat rural loneliness - and at the start of March set up its new c-a-f-e (Coffee and Friends Events) network, a network of Suffolk clubs, coffee mornings and community groups.

The cafes cannot be held for now, due to the pandemic, but the charity is calling on people to join the network and support one another in a wide range of other ways.

MORE - Four steps to protect your mental health during pandemicRural Cafe Caravan has posted a suggestion on social media to smile and wave to older people who are looking out of their windows, while c-a-f-e has suggested keeping bird tables stocked for friends and neighbours who are self-isolating.

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Mrs Osborn said other ideas could potentially include people in a village creating artworks in their own homes and sharing them online, or people creating displays in their windows, or even chats through a garden fence, from a safe distance.

Rural Coffee Caravan posted on Facebook: “We will still be working in the best way we can to keep people connected.

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“One way is by asking communities to join our new c-a-f-e network, Coffee And Friends Events

“This was designed for community and faith groups who expressed a wish to ‘belong’ to something bigger.

MORE - Join our Suffolk Coronavirus Updates group on Facebook“Obviously we can’t promote the group side of things (for now), but the two-way information channel it provides will be a way we can still provide supportive information.

“We will also use this to focus on tips and ideas for continuing vital social connection while physically distanced. Sharing, caring and maintaining relationships in this troubled time is essential.

“If you have ideas to relieve the inevitable stress isolation will bring, please let us know and we will pass them on with our own.

“Above all, we must care for each other while keeping family, friends, neighbours and ourselves safe, but we are imaginative beings. We know we can do this if we all do it together.

“We at RCC promise we will still be working to make a difference to rural communities in Suffolk.”

To find out more, search for Rural Coffee Caravan on Facebook and Twitter.

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