12 December 2022

Patients at two Oxfordshire-based hospices will now be able to hear messages from loved ones who can’t visit them this Christmas, thanks to a new digital service. 

Katharine House Hospice and Sobell House Hospice are the first hospices in the UK to join forces with Bristol-based arts organisation Trigger to deliver WithYou, a digital service allowing family and friends to connect with patients who are isolated and vulnerable at no cost to them.

Created and produced by Trigger, WithYou supports critically ill patients in hospices, hospitals and care homes by making it easy for friends and family to record and share voice messages and create playlists from anywhere in the world.

Hospice volunteers at Katharine House and Sobell House will be checking the app regularly on specially sourced iPads and will share the messages and playlists with patients, helping them access the app and leaving the music playing for them as long as they wish.

Srinder Singh, Bereavement Care and Voluntary Services Lead for Katharine House and Sobell House said: "It’s wonderful to be able to offer the WithYou service to our patients and their families. It is always difficult for patients when they can’t be with their family and friends, but Christmas is a particularly hard time.

"WithYou will help families keep in touch and let our patients know they are loved and that people are thinking of them. Being able to hear messages from loved ones will make such a difference to their wellbeing."

Angie Bual, Creative Director of WithYou and Artist-Director of Trigger, said: "I came up with the idea after an old friend of mine was on ICU with Covid. He was mechanically ventilated and unable to have visitors. His friends and family were trying to pull together voice messages from his social network and put them onto one mp3 file to send to the hospital.

"They found the whole procedure very challenging, and it made me realise that there are so many people who are in hospital or in care homes, unable to use devices due to their condition, and all you want at a time like that is to be able to send them a message and make sure they have company. If you're having a very difficult time in hospital, then it makes a real difference to be able to hear your loved ones’ voices."

Katharine House would like to thanks Oxford Hospitals Charity for purchasing the iPads for the hospice. Ella Cooper, Programme Officer, from Oxford Hospitals Charity said: "We’re so pleased to fund the iPads for this fantastic project. We learnt from the pandemic that being able to stay in touch with family and friends is so beneficial to patients’ mental health and well-being and even more so during the festive season. It’s also great to be partnering with these other important local charities to support this important project."

Related pages

  • To find out more about the work we do, read What we do or explore our For Patients and Families pages.
  • If you want to take part in a fundraising events for Katharine House Hospice, visit our events page. 
  • To receive regular news about development at the hospice and fundraising events, please sign up to our digital newsletter.