We all have the ability to make a positive impact; from cleaning up litter, donating money to a cause or simply giving a stranger a smile, you can make a difference with the smallest of actions. All it takes is someone to make the first move, and a wonderful way for this to begin is for businesses to lead the way and set the example. No matter how big or small, businesses have a fantastic opportunity to employ corporate social responsibility practices to make a lasting impact on their community, the environment, and their employees.

This blog post explores what it means to be a socially responsible company and introduces how the Westbank 100 Working Together campaign, supported by our local businesses, can help to combat chronic loneliness in our community.

This year, Westbank has decided to launch the 100 Working Together campaign to help combat loneliness in our communities. Loneliness can affect all walks of life, and we have seen the real impact social isolation can have on our mental and physical health at a huge level during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adults can go weeks without having a single conversation with another person, with no one to pick up the phone to or share a hot drink with. Loneliness existed long before Coronavirus, and sadly it will exist long after, without charities such as Westbank determined to make a difference and businesses alongside us supporting the cause.

What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility is a broad term that covers many aspects of business practices. It generally refers to a commitment to carry out business in an ethical way and managing processes whilst considering the social, economic and environmental impact of their work. There are many ways a business can incorporate social responsibility into their model, such as:

  • A focus on sustainability and environmental management
  • Employee volunteer days
  • Socially responsible investment (ESG funds etc.)
  • Contributing to educational and social programmes
  • Improving links with their community

It is up to each business to decide how corporate social responsibility fits best with their personal aspirations and the difference they wish to see in the world at a local level and beyond.

The drive towards social and environmental philanthropy provides several benefits to many levels of a business. Customer relations can improve as consumers appreciate fair and open business practices. Employees benefit from improved working standards and conditions, and communities can thrive with the positive impact of sponsoring local charities or events and volunteering hours.

Corporate social responsibility is a wonderful way to give back to employees and community, and it can also benefit the business too. It can increase competitive advantage, improve business performance and build trust with customers. Most of all, it promotes a positive image of a responsible and ethical brand. Social responsibility can develop into a large scale initiative, but it can also start with something as simple as sponsoring a local car wash or inviting charities to spread their message to employees. 

Our 100 Working Together mission is to bring together 100 businesses and ask them to donate £500 each to help us fight loneliness across Exminster, the surrounding six parishes, and the city of Exeter. By employing a project team, we hope to identify and support lonely individuals and then manage a team of volunteers to provide a valuable befriending service throughout our community.

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to go on a sociable walk, have a cup of tea with someone who will listen, or even just the option to pick up the phone and enjoy a friendly chat. Every person deserves to know they are being thought of and have access to some human interaction. It is important for our mental and physical wellbeing to stay connected even through these challenging times. The money we hope to raise with the help of our local businesses will provide initial set up and staff costs, volunteer training, DBS checks and travel expenses.

Are you a business local to the Exminster or Exeter area and want to help us tackle loneliness? Get in touch to see how you can make a difference to your local community and improve lives today.

Find out more about 100 Working Together