Help Covid-19 Patients See their Loved Ones

Connecting Covid-19 patients in hospital isolation with their family and friends.

#StayTogether Update

December 2020

We were so delighted that we had a small part in helping to keep Covid-19 patients in touch with their loved ones through the Pandemic. We're thrilled to say that we raised over £70,000 and donated 180 iPads to hospitals across the UK.

Leona Harris, a nurse on a Covid ward who is married to one of the Partners at Simpson Millar spearheaded the campaign, but after setting up a Justgiving donation page, more than 1200 people donated £41,500, with Simpson Millar and its employees donating another £30,000.

Along with the 180 iPads, £7,000 in cash was given to hospitals to buy their own tablet computers. 

Hospitals are now finding other ways to use the computer tablets outside of the Covid wards. Patients with neurological conditions are using apps on the iPads to support their recovery and communication. Children are being engaged in interactive ways to explain procedures they're having to go through and they're also being used to communicate with patients whose first language is not English. 

We're all so grateful to everyone who's donated, throughout such a difficult year.

There are many pictures of staff in hospitals with their iPads and also fundraising stories, so keep on reading down the page. 

Make a small donation towards the purchase of a computer tablet – and let Covid-19 patients in isolation on hospital wards see their family and friends.

Do you know that very often the only way a patient, who is on a Covid-19 hospital isolation ward, can see or speak to their loved ones is by borrowing a mobile phone or computer tablet from a Doctor or Nurse?

And all too often, we are hearing distressing stories where Covid-19 patients have died without being able to see, or even, in some cases, speak to their family or friends - simply because there weren’t enough phones or tablets to go around!

It’s hard to believe it’s happening in the UK. But it’s a fact. And our colleagues at Simpson Millar want to do something about it… and need your help.

Donate at:

#staytogether Campaign Update

Thank you to everyone who's got involved. You've made a real difference to people with Coronavirus and their families.  

Read about how #staytogether is helping patients recovering from Neurological and Spinal Injuries, along with those with Covid-19.

A massive thank you to Rolande, a chainsaw carver, who's auctioned off Bow, the NHS hare, to raise money for the #staytogether campaign. 

Read Brendan's Story - he's been helped directly by the #staytogether campaign.

You can read the thank you messages and photos from hospitals that have received iPads and tablets donated from the #staytogether campaign.

Read some of the messages from our donors on our Justgiving page to find out what they've been doing to raise money.  


Information about #staytogether

What is #staytogether ?

#staytogether is a simple idea.

At a time when the government is quite rightly urging social distancing, we want to keep families and friends together at a time when they need it the most.

We will do this by raising funds to buy tablets which can be used by patients in isolation to see and speak to their loved ones.

How do you donate?

Simply donate to: and we will use the funds to purchase tablets for the hospitals that our colleagues at Simpson Millar have selected in our communities. The tablets will allow patients who are isolated because of Covid-19 to see their loved ones.

Hospitals we are supporting

Each of our offices will select a local hospital that is fighting the virus. A list of the hospitals already selected and some information on each of them can be found below. These have been selected due to the work they are doing ‘on the front line’ in the fight against Covid-19 in each of our local communities.

More hospitals will be added to this list shortly.

Help to make sure no one is alone

The aim is to make sure no one is alone at their most emotional and challenging time. And to do this we need to get word out about #staytogether.

Not only do we need everyone to make a small donation on the Just Giving page but we also need you to spread the word too. We need you to tell you families, friends and work colleagues - share #staytogether with everyone you know and by doing so we believe we can make a real difference to someone when they need it the most.

A #staytogether thank you

We know these are tough times at the moment. However, we believe what #staytogether will help make a real difference.

Everyone needs someone to turn to; everyone deserves to be able to see their loved ones in their hour of need. Please help, please get involved and make sure no one has to face Covid-19 without being able to keep in touch with their loved ones.

#staytogether Helps Patients Recovering from Neurological and Spinal Injuries

Thanks to the donations we’ve received so far for #staytogether, we’ve helped Covid-19 patients and their families in hospitals across the UK.

What began as a fundraiser for a few hospitals across Greater Manchester has grown into a UK wide initiative and we hope to keep expanding the number of hospitals and patients we’re helping.

Our colleagues have taken on their own challenges to help raise money for the #staytogether campaign. Our ‘Trafford Cyclists’ been cycling for an hour a day throughout lockdown and are still cycling to raise as much money as they can. The money they’ve raised has helped us to donate three iPads to their local hospital Trafford General Hospital.

How Do the iPads Help Patients in Isolation?

Sadly, once patients are admitted to hospital, they can’t have any visitors. This is the same for all patients, not just those with Coronavirus.

That’s why Leona Harris, a nurse working on a Covid-19 ward in Manchester, came up with the idea of donating iPads for hospitals so patients can have virtual, face-to-face contact with their loved ones.

Leona has already noticed the positive impact that this has had on isolated patients. “It really boosts their morale” she says, “They can connect with loved ones which is essential to their recovery.”

But it’s not just Covid-19 patients that the iPads are helping. A few of the hospitals we’ve supported have already found other ways of using the iPads and their apps to support patients and boost morale.

For example, at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside, they’ve used translation apps for patients whose first language isn’t English so they can communicate better with the staff at the hospital. This means the staff can treat them better and give them emotional support.

And Manchester Children’s Hospital are using the iPads for therapy and to keep child patients entertained while they wait for transfusions, which can take hours. Other hospitals have also found that Covid-19 patients with dementia are responding really positively to hearing familiar voices and seeing familiar faces.

It’s fantastic to see the iPads giving so many benefits to so many people.  

Helping Communication

And it’s not just language barriers that prevent isolated patients from communicating. Patients recovering from life-changing illnesses and injuries, such as neurological and spinal cord injuries can be left with devastating effects such as being unable to speak.  

With the extra money the Trafford Cyclists have raised for #staytogether, they’ve decided to donate £1,000 to Trafford General Hospital to buy communication apps for these patients to use. These apps help patients to navigate words and phrases, so they can communicate with staff and their family members more easily.

Long-Term Benefits

While #staytogether is aimed at helping Covid-19 patients during their time in hospital, the donated iPads will continue to help patients recovering from illness and injury in the long term.

Even after isolation restrictions are lifted in hospitals, there’ll still be times when patients can’t see their loved ones for significant amounts of time, along with patients whose recovery will be helped by having access to the iPads. We hope that they will continue to help families stay together during difficult times now and in the future

How Can You Help?

After hitting our first fundraising target in May 2020, we’ve increased the amount we want to raise to £80k in total. We’ve already raised just over £70k and have helped more than 50 hospitals so far, but we want to support many more hospitals, patients and families. Raising more money doesn’t just mean we can buy more iPads, but extra funds can be used in other ways, just like the apps.

Please donate here:

Brendan's Story

A family have virtually reunited thanks in part to our #staytogether campaign, inspired by nurse Leona Harris and all the colleagues at Simpson Millar.

Before the outbreak of Coronavirus, Brendan Caffrey was temporarily living in a care home whilst modifications were made to his home. Brendan has advanced Parkinson’s disease.

Brendan lives with his wife, Julie and their daughter, Olivia.

Unfortunately, Brendan contracted Covid-19 while he was living in the care facility, and had to be admitted to hospital. Because the care home had already isolated their residents when lockdown was announced, Brendan had already gone many weeks without seeing his family. This has been a very difficult time for the family.

Using one of the iPads donated to his hospital as part of the #staytogether campaign, Brendan has now seen his family again for the first time in more than five weeks using FaceTime.

Speaking of this emotional reunion, Leona, who works 13 hour shifts on an Covid ward and whose husband Nick works at Simpson Millar, said, “When you hear stories like this, it breaks my heart. I mean, they’re a family, they need to be together, and this is what we’re trying to achieve. The more funds we can get, the more people we can connect like Brendan and Julie.”

It isn’t just the families who benefit from seeing their loved one in isolation. Leona believes there are many positive effects of this virtual contact in Covid-19 wards. “It really boosts morale for them” she says, “They can connect, and it’s essential to recovery.”

Brendan is now back at his care home until the adaptations to his home are complete. To help him stay in touch with his family until then,  donated an iPad to Brendan for him and his family to keep connected.

We give Brendan our very best wishes and hope that he can enjoy being back together with his family in his new home very soon.

Thank You Rolande

Rolande got in touch with us about what she was doing for the #staytogether campaign and her reasons for helping out. 

Please say hello to "Bow" my NHS hare. As of today he/she will be up for auction to the highest bidder.
Absolutely all proceeds will be going to the #staytogether campaign.
Leona Harris a frontline nurse from Bury who started a justgiving page to raise money for ipads/ tablets for patients to keep in touch via video chat with family and friends whilst in hospital.
I can relate to this as my Daddy had a heart attack on Good Friday and went in an ambulance to hospital on his own. Then I realised that without these iPads / tablets I wouldn't have been able to see him during his stay.

Bidding started at £150 in an online auction and Rolande raised £300 which she donated to the #staytogether campaign. Thanks Rolande and how gorgeous is Bow?

Rolande's chainsaw carved NHS Hare called Bow

Thank you Gina

Gina, an Art Teacher decided to support #staytogether by painting houses from photos in return for donations to the campaign. 

Gina told us "I really felt the isolation from friends but particularly from my two daughters - not seeing or hugging them - which is why I chose houses. It helped me to have a focus in those first scary weeks." 

You can see a couple of the houses she painted below.

Thank you Gina for sharing your beautiful art with us, and thank you for helping Coronavirus patients see their loved ones. 

Paintings of house by Gina to raise money for #staytogether campaing

Thank you to Doorway Capital for the very generous £2,500 donation to the #staytogether campaign. This allows us to help more people stay in touch. 

Messages from our Donors

A huge thank you to everyone who's been donating to our campaign. Here are just a few of the messages we've been getting on our Justgiving page.

Aggie (10) and Magnus (7) have been selling painted rocks on their doorstep in Clitheroe. They have already donated £100 to the NHS and then heard you on 5Live! You are amazing! Keep going!
What a lovely idea! My Dad at 75 with severe arthrits danced to raise the money to donate from the rest of the family.
Class 4GM from Rose Green Junior School are having a quiz online today and donating to this page. Thank you for all you are doing.
Hi I’m an Art teacher at and I’ve been drawing peoples houses to raise money for your amazing cause . My goal was to at least buy one iPad and I’ve reached it today.

Keep sharing #staytogether 

Leona is a nurse dealing with Covid-19 Patients

Read about Leona's Story 

Thanks from the Hospitals

Hospitals that have been helped by the #staytogether campaign have been getting in touch with photos and thanks. You can see them all below. 

Fairfield General Hospital in Bolton have already got their iPads and have been using them to help their patients #staytogther with their friends and family.

Fairfield Hospital

Fairfield Hospital Staff

Ward 7, one of the Covid-19 wards at Fairfield Hospital in Bolton

Ward 7 Fairfield General

A nurse at the Royal Albert Edward in Wigan with a donated iPad.

Nurse at Royal Albert Edward in Wigan

Hazel Preston, Operational Manager at Park House, said:

"Thank you so much to Simpson Miller & Colleagues for the two iPads that were donated to our acute inpatient wards at Park House. As none of our service users are able to have visitors or to meet with family or friends on leave, this is a really challenging time for people who are already separated from people they love. These iPads will help them to stay in touch and feel more connected to those they care about, which is incredibly important for the mental health and well-being of our patients. Thank you!"

Hazel Preston at Park House

Staff at The Orchard, Lancaster receiving donated tablets.

The Orchard, Lancaster

Kingston Hospital, London

Kingston Hospital, London

Message of Thanks received from Bradford Royal Infirmary after we donated money so that they could purchase their own tablets:

"I can confirm that we received £600 into our bank account on the 29 April 2020, Thank you. The charity has been able to use your extremely kind donation towards the purchase of 20 tablets."

Butler Green, Manchester

Butler Green Manchester

Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax

Calderdale Royal Hospital Halifax

Furness General Hospital in Cumbria said:

“We have already been able to see the benefits these are providing to our patients and their relatives at such a difficult time.”

Furness General Hospital, Cumbria

Katie from Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr Hospital said:

"Thank you so very much for the iPad! It will be a massive help for our patients to remain in contact with their families and is so much nicer when families are able to facetime patients given the current situation. Many, many thanks again."

Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr Hospital

Manchester Children's Hospital Neo Natal Intensive Care with their iPads.

Manchester Children's Hospital

York & Scarborough hospitals said 'Thanks to this generous donation of two iPads each, patients being treated for Covid-19 can contact family while current visitor restrictions are in place. #ThankYou
#Covid19 #NHS #NHSCharities

How are our colleagues supporting #staytogether?

Colleagues across Simpson Millar have been getting involved with our #staytogether campaign by running their own fundraising activities to help raise money to buy tablets for Covid-19 patients, isolated in hospitals and unable to have visits from their friends & family.

It’s fantastic to see our colleagues getting stuck in to support such an important cause and we’re really grateful for their efforts.

Colleague Spotlight: Mark Fearnley, Head of Contact Centre

Mark was due to run the Barcelona and Manchester marathons this Spring, but both of these events have been postponed until later in the year. 

Despite this, Mark put his trainers back on to support the #staytogether initiative. 

This week, Mark ran the combined distance of both marathons – an impressive 84.8km or 52.7 miles. He’s raised £200 for #staytogether.

Mark said "It's been tough achieving this challenge but the donations and support of colleagues has really helped. One of my family members was diagnosed with Covid-19 and admitted to hospital this week and the lack of visitors has been extremely hard for her. Knowing that we are helping people in similar situations certainly motivated me to keep going when my legs were telling me otherwise."

A big thank you and well done Mark – you can put your feet up now.


Colleague Spotlight: Jack Bookey, Paralegal

To help boost morale during these challenging times, Jack is running weekly quizzes for colleagues across the business.

He told us, “Helping out with the Liverpool Social Committee, I wanted to try find a way for us all to have some fun during these difficult times, whilst raising money for the #staytogether initiative. I had the idea for the ultimate SM Quiz Champion whilst out on a run, and I’m glad that so many people are involved and have donated £5. The quiz will be running internally for the next nine weeks, before the winner from each office will enter one final round to see who is the SM Quiz Champion. 

It’s not too late to get involved in the quiz, and it will never be too late to donate.”

So far Jack has raised £120 towards #staytogether, and the battle for SM Quiz Champion is well underway.

Colleague spotlight: Jacqueline Smith, Legal Secretary

Jacqueline is currently half-way through her challenge of doing 10k steps a day for the whole of May in a bid to raise more money for #staytogether.

So far, Jacqueline’s raised over £150 through donations from friends and family. She told us, “This fundraiser might not mean something to everyone but it means everything to someone, and I can’t think of a better reason to do my part.”

Best of luck to Jacqueline for the rest of the challenge.

Jacqueline Smith, Legal Secretary, walking 10k steps a day in May

Colleague Spotlight: The Trafford Cyclists

More colleagues are getting active to fundraise for #staytogether. The ‘Trafford Cyclists’ are taking on the challenge of cycling for 1 hour a day during lockdown to help raise more money the campaign.

Taking part are Simpson Millar colleagues, Melanie Burden, Jonathan Thursby and Sue Vanden along with some of their friends and family.

Good luck everyone!

Trafford Cyclists - staff from Simpson Millar Manchester cycling to raise money for #staytogether campaign

Colleague Spotlight: Mel Varey (Head of Court of Protection)

Our resident yoga teacher, Mel has raised over £65 for #staytogether by sharing some pre-recorded yoga tutorials with the team and running a live, virtual yoga session.

She told us, “I wanted to do what I could particularly in Mental Health Awareness week. Having trained as a yoga teacher last year after ten years of practice, it was something that I could offer to my colleagues as it has helped me to relax and wind down and I thought it would be nice to share that. 

"The #staytogether campaign is really important to me as my sister is a nurse and my mum works in a care home so I am very aware of the difficulties that families are having communicating with their loved ones. I asked participants to make a small donation if they were able to the campaign.”

Simpson Millar staff doing yoga to raise money for #staytogether