Westbank Community Health and Care continues to develop and transform its services to support a wider community in ever more engaging and innovative ways.

It's 37 years since Westbank was established in Exminster, near Exeter. Now Devon-wide and supported by a veritable army of volunteers who are the beating heart of our charity, our commitment to improving the community’s health and wellbeing is unabated. 

Looking back on the last year, I am incredibly proud of the tremendous work that has allowed Westbank to continue to grow and thrive, building on the transformative approach we started post-pandemic. 

Our team has been bold and creative and we are now providing even more health and wellbeing services and support for carers of all ages in communities across the county. These new initiatives have been made possible by our improved communication and fundraising channels, and I am incredibly proud to share some of our achievements from the past year in this column. 

According to the 2021 Census, there are over 74,000 carers in Devon, although we believe the actual number is far higher. During the last financial year, our award-winning Devon Carers service achieved some impressive milestones. We continued to grow the number of people we support - now more than 30,000 unpaid carers, predominantly friends and family members, who are caring for Adults. Of these, we enabled 1,743 carers to have a break using the Carers Break Fund. Our helpline team dealt with more than 15,000 calls. 

We extended our Hospital Services scheme, and this now covers all four acute hospitals in Devon, as well as many Community Hospitals which together managed close to 5,000 referrals.

Our award-winning Volunteering Services continue to be the backbone of our organisation, underpinning all of our activities and playing a key role in the delivery of our Community Support Services. These are varied and far-reaching. We offered an incredible 7,500 places at a variety of activities and locations including Brunch and Lunch Clubs, Hobbies Groups, Seated Exercise Classes, Table Tennis sessions, Community Fridges / Larders and Food Boxes.

Westbank’s Health Walks take place in 24 locations across Devon including in areas of high deprivation. Part of the national Walking for Health programme, this self-funded initiative is growing at a rapid rate - we now have over 60 walk leaders facilitating more than 1,000 health walks every month. 

These are just some of the headline figures from last year. We are excited to build on our success throughout 2024 during which we aim to offer more projects to support carers, combat loneliness, enrich people’s lives and help them maintain their independence. 

If you would like to know more about activities at Westbank or would like to support or donate to any of the services the charity provides, please have a further look around out website: www.westbank.org.uk