The van will be used to provide council services to residents living in rural areas. It will also attend community events throughout the year.
Purchased with a £173,000 grant from Kent County Council’s ‘Helping Hands Scheme’, the van will have three computer workstations with online access to council systems.
It will also have solar panels and heating/air conditioning onboard, a fully functional kitchen, disability access and support awning with outside furniture for the summer months.
The vehicle also has an inbuilt CCTV capability linking up to the control room in Dover and so that it can be used for additional security measures at events.
Cllr Oliver Richardson, portfolio holder for Community, said: ‘We are delighted to have received delivery of the new Community Roots van, which enables council officers to meet and engage with residents across the district. The van gives them a mobile base to work from and means that council staff can offer support to our communities in all weathers. Rural villages in particular will benefit from this facility, as residents can meet our team face to face without having to travel far.
‘Themed events have also been scheduled covering relevant issues that affect us all such as mental health and wellbeing, access to foodbanks, money advice and keeping warm this winter.’
Roger Gough, leader of Kent County Council, said: ‘We are really pleased to fund this initiative through our Helping Hands Scheme that is supporting people living and working in East Kent in these challenging times.
‘This van has multiple benefits for residents, from supporting community safety initiatives by increasing surveillance to help to tackle crime, to delivering on our combined efforts in ending digital exclusion. In partnership with KCC’s Digital Kent team, we’re providing a space for residents to get connected and receive support.
‘In addition, the cost-of-living crisis means more people than ever before need help, advice and support. The ‘Community Roots’ van will bring the services that people need into the heart of communities, enabling families to engage with the local authority and partners, without having to pay travel costs to do so.’