Suffolk Show 2018: Rural Coffee Caravan proudly displays new caravan after theft last year
PUBLISHED: 07:56 01 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:56 01 June 2018
Bosses behind an innovative project which brings people in isolated Suffolk villages together have said they feel "totally instilled" in the Suffolk community after people rallied around when its caravan was stolen.
The Rural Coffee Caravan goes out and about into rural Suffolk villages to bring people together for coffee and conversation, as well as carrying key information from local organisations.
But volunteers were left devastated when its caravan was stolen last summer.
Within 24 hours an online fundraising campaign had begun, and thanks to the generosity of donors a brand new caravan was delivered within six weeks.
The caravan was proudly displayed at the Suffolk Show this week for those who helped fund the replacement.
Rural Coffee Caravan director Ann Osborn, said: “It was overwhelming, so we wanted to be able to be at the show so people could see what they have done to help us.
“We feel we are now for Suffolk, of Suffolk and totally instilled in the Suffolk community, and we were really gratified by how much it meant to people.”
Ms Osborn described it as real validation for the work the team does.
Many people in the villages it visits struggle to access information they need, with the caravan bringing coffee, company and information booklets to those people instead of them struggling.
“It’s a social space in a rural place,” Ms Osborn said.
“We are just facilitating people in a village to meet each other and just chat.
“Conversation is social glue and we want people to get to know each other and watch friendships grow.”
One of its key campaigns has been the Meet Up Mondays held at local pubs and village halls.
In recent months demand has soared with 22 of these now being held.
Ms Osborn added: “The bigger thing we need to do now is make the public understand that there is no catch – it’s quite hard to reach people if they are not online, so we are really trying to spread the message.”
The team also holds special events such as afternoon tea, and sometimes have representatives from agencies come out with them to speak to people one-to-one.