Sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion
We want to deliver long-lasting sustainable growth and positive social and environmental impact not only through our community programmes, but also through our business operations.
What this means for us
As a bank, our main activities need to deliver returns not just for our shareholders but also to benefit our society more broadly. To us, sustainable economic growth means taking everyone with us on this journey, ensuring non-traditional businesses and those financially excluded have access to the right services and tools.
We’ll do this by promoting financial inclusion for people and businesses, supporting the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises in the way we do business.
Our support of our vulnerable customers, helping small businesses grow and prosper through our ‘Breakthrough’ programme and advancing education through our universities scheme are just a few examples of our commitment to drive sustainable economic growth.
We are proud to champion British businesses, from start-up to scale-up and beyond.
Santander Breakthrough helps ambitious SMEs grow and prosper through a range of activities focused on building connections, gaining knowledge, finding and retaining talent, and accessing opportunities for international growth and finance.
We realigned the Santander breakthrough support for SMEs with a focus on digital delivery, designed to provide beyond-banking support to businesses from start-up to growth. We launched Survive and Revive, a bank-wide proposition delivering a suite of resources to help SMEs manage the crisis. This support has evolved throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so throughout 2021.
Reaching out calls to customers
In April 2020, we launched 'Reaching Out', an initiative focused on calling some of our potentially vulnerable older customers, who typically would have visited a branch and may not have a cash card or access to online or mobile banking. Above all, the calls are about customer wellbeing, with informal conversations supporting the customer to cope during the Covid-19 pandemic. This might cover financial wellbeing, such as explaining how to still access cash when needed, or other elements of the customer's wellbeing where we are able to make a difference, such as liaising with our charity partners to provide additional support to those in need. We provided these calls from frontline colleagues from April-November 2020, reaching 81,859 customers.
"One customer was 80 years old and had tried to get out to the local shop but it was closed. I asked him if he had enough food and he said he had enough for today only. I spoke to Age UK and rang him back to confirm he was happy for them to call him. They are now going to arrange to do his shopping so he does not have to go out." - Sharon Field, Community Hub Director, Stratford
Our community investment strategy aims to deliver long-term, meaningful value to society through a focus on topics where we can make a real difference such as financial inclusion, job creation, and education, digital inclusion and fighting financial crime.
Our teams regularly volunteer for local community organisations and support our in-school mentoring programme ‘Wise workshops’. In these sessions, Santander volunteers teach students about topics such as responsible money management, career planning, and staying safe online.
Together with Alzheimer’s Society, we’re exploring ways in which we, as a bank, can make a difference. We’re working closely with the charity to better understand and respond to the needs and challenges of both our customers who may be living with dementia, and their carers.
As part of our commitment to making a difference, over half of our colleagues have become ‘Dementia Friends’ in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Society. We’ve also delivered training to colleagues across customer support teams to become Dementia Ambassadors. These ambassadors are now positioned across the UK to support customers and colleagues affected by Dementia and help us to continue to drive our dementia-friendly initiatives.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we have raised over £1.5m since the partnership began in 2019 and have recently been awarded for our efforts winning the award for Dementia Friendly Organisation award at the Dementia Hero Awards, and Highly Commended for the Business Charity Award for the Best Charity Partnership for Banks and Financial Services.
If you want to find out more about the great work we are doing with Alzheimer’s Society, follow this link to our partnerships page.
COVID-19 community support
Donations for COVID-19 related support to charity and university partners by year-end 2020
The Santander ‘QuaranTea’ campaign aimed to support the most vulnerable and isolated people during the pandemic.
Colleagues volunteered to make weekly companion phone calls to isolated individuals, provide direct support to local Age UK centres, and distribute support guides to older people in their local communities.
The Santander Foundation donated £1,000 for each volunteer that took part, split equally between Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK (up to £1m), and also doubled the time colleagues could dedicate to volunteering, offering 70 hours of time
In response to Covid-19, Santander UK contributed £5.1m to university initiatives, which included a £300k donation to Oxford, UCL and Imperial College to support Covid-19 research and vaccine development. The contribution also went towards the production of PPE for the NHS and IT equipment for students.
Santander is firmly committed to progress and inclusive, sustainable growth, with a long-standing dedication to higher education that sets it apart from the world’s other financial institutions.
We have 85 partner universities across the UK, supporting 10,000 graduates. We stand for education, employability and entrepreneurship and our awards, bursaries and internships demonstrate our commitment to our ethos.
In 2021 we are pioneering a new Lifelong learning programme with up to 50,000 places for return to work or study or setting up a business, as well as founding the Santander BECAS and Santander X platforms to host global opportunities available to students and graduates worldwide.
For more information about our commitment to higher education, visit the Santander Universities website.