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National Lottery grant helps combat loneliness in rural Suffolk

A community caravan which campaigns against isolation and loneliness in Suffolk, England, has received a National Lottery grant to fund another van and hire more staff.

The Rural Coffee Caravan currently runs two caravans which visit villages across the county where there are no other public services nearby. The charity’s aim is to combat loneliness by providing a welcoming place for people to meet up for a coffee and a chat in places where they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

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The £87,000 National Lottery grant will mean that the charity is able to add an extra caravan to its fleet and employ two more staff members. The additions will enable them to extend the number of remote villages visited and reach even more people who are at risk of loneliness and isolation.

The National Lottery Grant was a result of the charity’s application to the ‘Building Connections Fund’. This is a partnership between the lottery, the government and a foundation set up in response to the Jo Cox Commission on loneliness. “What welcome news to start 2019 on a high note,” said Ann Osborn, manager of the Rural Coffee Caravan.

Making a difference to communities and individuals

There is still a long way to go to reduce isolation and loneliness across the county, Ms Osborn admitted but the team works incredibly hard to make positive connections every day. “The one thing that is so important with loneliness is that it doesn’t just affect the individual,” she said. “It affects the community as well, and you can end up creating residential areas of strangers.”

“We know from feedback that our caravan visits can make a huge difference to people who would otherwise feel alone or would struggle with fuel poverty.”

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