Rural Coffee Caravan

| Azad Sharma

Coffee is a language of its own. Small communities have formed around whether or not you prefer arabica or robusta, full fat or almond milk, espresso or frappé. Our taste for this caffeinated beverage has created ever more complex coffee orders but sometimes all you need is a simple cup of coffee to start a conversation.

In the scattered parishes of Suffolk where rural isolation had put a stress on local communities, coffee has played an important role in raising community spirit. The Rural Coffee Caravan was started in 2003 with the aim of  providing Suffolk’s isolated rural communities with information about services and benefits leading to their empowerment. Having manned helplines for Suffolk’s Farm Crisis Network, Rev Canon Sally Fogden gathered a group of colleagues, purchased a caravan, cookbooks, relevant information and ventured out into the rural community.

We feel that the Rural Coffee Caravan is essential as it encourages rural villages, like ours, to do the things they have always done but that somehow were forgotten. It is so good that they are reminding us what ‘community’ is about.

Jennifer Moore, Secretary, Good Neighbours Scheme.

The Rural Coffee Caravan delivers friendship and provides a unique access point to information about benefits and public services. The relaxed social atmosphere and fostering of community spirit was popular from the get-go. 15 years on, the Rural Coffee Caravan has spread its wings across the whole of the country and has a second vehicle – a campervan which visits village halls and coffee mornings year-round. The information provided by the Rural Coffee Caravan has helped many people gain access to benefits and services, even playing a fundamental part in the building of Bruisyard village hall.

The Rural Coffee Caravan has brought the idea of starting a conversation with a cup of coffee to life. These conversations are helping to create connections between people in rural communities. Check out their video below to find out more and to see them in action. You can also follow them on Twitter to keep up to date with their travels.

Photo by Charles Unitas

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