‘For me personally, and for the charity as a whole, 2022 has been a landmark year. My first full year as CEO has gone by in a flash and I’m happy to say that the organisation I lead has gone from strength to strength.

This is due in no small part to the measures we’ve taken to raise the profile of Westbank Community Health and Care, online and in the wider media. This monthly column (for which we are extremely grateful) and editorial elsewhere have helped spread the word about the amazing work carried out by my team and our army of volunteers across Devon.

Earlier this month, our successful Warmwell project, offering a warm space, a friendly welcome and nutritious food at no charge every weekday, was covered by BBC Spotlight, Radio Devon and ITV Westcountry as well as a range of print and online publications. Sharing our many success stories has supported our fundraising ability which, in turn, is helping us to deliver more health and well-being initiatives to more people. A win-win.

Our new focus on telling people about what we are doing to help address the many challenges our service users face has also brought unexpected benefits. Seeing Westbank regularly featured in the news makes our staff and supporters feel proud and recognised for the fantastic work they do. Internally, we have also done some rebranding, moved our fundraising into the 21st century and given our digital channels a lift!

Westbank reached some wonderful milestones in 2022. We reached over 2,300 people with our Diabetes prevention service and our award-winning Devon Carers service now supports 27,000 carers with information and advice. Of those, nearly 2,000 are young carers. We know there are many unpaid carers we have yet to reach, people who receive little recognition for looking after family members or friends day in and day out. These carers are the invisible scaffolding supporting the NHS and social care, and we will continue to do all we can to help them in what can be a lonely role.  

Our volunteers are our own bedrock, and we are so grateful to them for the time they give. We were even able to host an event this year to thank them properly. In 2022, we received what turned out to be one of the last Queen’s awards for voluntary service, following our nomination in 2021. It was fantastic to see two of our long-standing volunteers receive royal recognition with an invitation to Buckingham Palace.

Other highlights: the amazing support we’ve received from some prominent local organisations, including Exeter’s Mint Methodist Church and Exminster’s Royal Oak pub, both of whom have chosen us as their Charity of the Year. Thanks must also go to our commissioners such as Devon County Council, the Care Commissioning Group and Public Health England.

It's 37 years since Westbank was established and our commitment to the Devon community is unabated. We aim to improve our reach in 2023 with projects to combat loneliness, enrich people’s lives and help them maintain their independence. These new health and well-being initiatives have been made possible by our improved communication and fundraising channels and I look forward to telling you about them next year.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Christmas.’

If you would like to find out more about Westbank or would consider supporting our charity through volunteering or by making a donation or legacy, please have a further look around our website. 

Article from The Moorlander newspaper