Emergency funding for Rural Coffee Caravan for its community work during coronavirus

The Rural Coffee Caravan in Suffolk has been awarded �44k for its work during this coronavirus crisi

The Rural Coffee Caravan in Suffolk has been awarded �44k for its work during this coronavirus crisis Picture: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION - Credit: Archant

A charity that supports isolated communities has been awarded lifeline funding of more than £40,000 that will allow it to keep all members of staff working for the next six months.

Ann Osborn and Sally Fogden with the Rural Coffee Caravan Picture: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/SUFFOLK CO

Ann Osborn and Sally Fogden with the Rural Coffee Caravan Picture: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION - Credit: Archant

Rural Coffee Caravan faced the possibility of not surviving the coronavirus crisis, like many small charities, but this emergency grant of £44,648 from the National Lottery Community Fund gives it an opportunity to plan for its future and devise ways it can continue delivering its services safely.

This mobile charity offers Suffolk’s most rural and isolated communities a place to meet for coffee, friendship and access to vital support services.

It was invited to apply for the funding because its well-established village visits and events (including Meet Up Mondays), rural networks and partnerships made it well placed to support the community through the current crisis.

MORE: Coffee caravan charity coming up with new ways to fight isolation, despite coronavirusAnn Osborn, chief executive of Rural Coffee Caravan, said: “100% of our beneficiaries fall into the Government’s coronavirus ‘at risk’ or ‘high risk’ categories of people.

“When lockdown was announced, we had to adapt quickly and offer new ways of supporting them, all from a safe distance.

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“While our usual face-to-face work remains on hold, we quickly tested and implemented new ways to provide isolated older people with the information, connections and community support we know is crucial to their chances of surviving and thriving in lockdown - and beyond.”

She said thanks to this funding, they have been able to help in all kinds of practical ways, such as setting up local ‘telephone tree’ networks for people to schedule phone chats and wellbeing check-ins and have repurposed one of their vehicles to help other organisations do safely-distanced deliveries of food, activity packs and gifts to the doorsteps of the most vulnerable residents.

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She said they also joined in the ‘Tech for Vulnerable’ initiative, led by Suffolk Family Carers, Ace Anglia and Suffolk User Forum, by collecting and redistributing spare tablets and other mobile devices, which ensured that individuals and families without internet access or smartphones could still access online support and feel part of their community.

The charity has also refocused its website and packed it with resources and creative ideas for social connection whilst physically distanced, with virtual ‘events’ ranging from remote pub quizzes to choirs and craft tutorials.

MORE: ‘They need help now’ – £131k in Covid-19 recovery cash set aside for struggling voluntary groups“Lockdown has disrupted routine life for so many people, with more than ever experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness,” Mrs Osborn said. “Rural Coffee Caravan now works in partnership with the newly-established Community Connector (aka “social prescribing”) Scheme in the east of the county.

“This has enabled Rural Coffee Caravan to extend its reach whilst pooling ideas and knowledge on the best ways to address the causes and symptoms of loneliness.”

The Rural Coffee Caravan, which was set up in 2002, wants to celebrate and work to preserve the “wonderful surge of neighbourliness that has been seen in Suffolk since lockdown”.

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

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