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Staycations hamper charity van search despite £20,000 funding boost

The Rural Coffee Caravan
The Rural Coffee Caravan

The popularity of staycations has left Suffolk charity, Rural Coffee Caravan, struggling to find a new van, despite a generous pledge from a local housebuilder.

For years rural communities in Suffolk have welcomed the arrival of regular visits from Maj, one of Rural Coffee Caravan’s mobile coffee morning and community support vehicles. Now it’s time for Maj to retire but the charity is struggling to find a new motorhome to take her place, despite a £20,000 donation from Hopkins Homes towards the purchase.

Ann Osborn, CEO Rural Coffee Caravan said: “It’s very frustrating to have secured the generous donation from Hopkins Homes but be struggling to find a van that will suit our needs. The van dealers have all seen a huge rise in interest as the pandemic is keeping many people at home this summer, so we are facing fierce competition.”

Rural Coffee Caravan was established in 2003 to help combat the issues of rural isolation and loneliness. The charity makes regular visits to villages throughout Suffolk, giving people the opportunity to get together for a cuppa and a chat.

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Ann continues: “Since lockdown eased, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of people joining us for coffee mornings. The fact that our gatherings tend to be outside has helped many people feel more confident about coming along.

“Besides coffee we can also provide advice and guidance to anyone in need, this includes signposting to other support services or providing information about benefits. Sadly, during lockdown, when many older people were on their own for a significant period, many fell victim to telephone scammers. We are on hand to help them understand the risks and the warning signs as well as suggest ways to keep connected and active.”

Annette and Lucy Dunning with a thirsty visitor at the Rural Coffee Caravan
Annette and Lucy Dunning with a thirsty visitor

The donation from Hopkins Homes, which was facilitated by Suffolk Community Foundation, will be combined with the part-exchange value of the existing van. It’s hoped that the charity will soon be able to purchase a suitable replacement vehicle. Ann hopes the new van will include a sitting area which would allow her team to discuss confidential matters with anyone needing support.

Joshua Hopkins of the Hopkins Charitable Fund said: “My family has enjoyed several visits to Rural Coffee Caravan’s events and seen first-hand the warmth with which their vans are greeted by communities and the opportunity for advice and companionship their visits provide. We’re delighted to support their search for a new van and hope that Ann and her team manage to find what they are looking for.”

Since 2017, The Hopkins Charitable Fund has donated over £370,000 in small grants, given over £450,000 to major projects and supported over 140 charities, 25 community-run shops and pubs and helped conserve war memorials across East Anglia.

If you can help Rural Coffee Caravan find Maj’s replacement, get in touch with Ann Osborn via their website: https://ruralcoffeecaravan.org.uk . The site also includes information about Rural Coffee Caravan’s visits and other events as well as some inspirational ideas about how to keep active and connected.

For more information about the Hopkins Charitable Fund please visit www.hopkinshomes.co.uk/charitable-fund

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