Jo Wedderspoon_2

Joanne Wedderspoon

Development Manager

Charities Aid Foundation


29 June 2020

Regional area:            Wales
Sector:                         Health & Wellbeing
Social investment:     £20,000 unsecured, 0% interest loan
Purpose:                      To part-fund salaries for 12-months and pay for support to launch digital app



A simple life story app is helping families to keep in touch with loved ones who have been isolated in care homes due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Book of You, which was developed with the support of a £20,000 interest free, unsecured loan from CAF Venturesome’s SE-Assist Wales Fund in 2016, is a reminiscence tool for people living with dementia, using words, pictures, music, and film to create a biographical digital portrait of its subject.   The app is now available all over the UK.

The digital story book helps families to build a familiar picture and story of someone’s life, filled with precious life events and memories.

 “Book of You is bringing people closer together through the lockdown, and we know it could be a highly valuable tool for so many more – not just those in care homes but those who have been isolated from their families to stay safe. There has never been a better time to listen to their stories. It’s a privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted.”

Kathy Barham, Director, Book of You

Keeping key memories, connections, and relationships alive

Families can add unlimited photos, videos, music and voice messages to the app, which can be played out to loved ones who they are currently unable to visit. With the support of carers, it allows people in care homes to hear from the people who know and love them best.

“It was a fantastic tool before Covid-19, but it has become a real lifesaver for us since the virus struck.

Lockdown has created a lot of anxiety for residents, their loved ones and carers. Families are desperately worried about how their loved one will cope, whether isolation will hasten their decline, and whether they will still be recognised by the time they are allowed to visit again.

“Book of You is helping to keep those crucial memories, connections and relationships alive. People come alive again, they light up. You can see the joy in their eyes.”

David Moore, the dementia lead for Methodist Homes (MHA), which looks after than 16,000 elderly people in the UK.

Lady in a care home with her carer helping her to look at the computer

Fiona's Story

Fiona’s mum Ann developed dementia in 2015. She moved from her Yorkshire family home of 52 years to a care home near Fiona’s home in Merseyside, in 2018.

Fiona started using Book of You in January 2020, and had recorded video chats with her mum and her sister Carole to include in her book, as well as photographs of happy life events, and audio of Ann’s favourite hymns and songs.

“I haven’t seen my mum now for eight and a half weeks, which is devastating really.

The whole point of moving her here was to be able to visit her every single day. The carers and the care home are fantastic, but for me it was always about having someone there to say, ‘I love you mum, you’re the best mum in the world’.

Book of You is the best thing ever because you can put photographs on it with a recorded voice message. So I can post a photograph of myself with a message saying, ‘hi mum, it’s your daughter Fiona, just saying I love you’, and I’ll sing her favourite song. My girls and my husband have done messages for her too.

Until recently, my sister and I were the only ones who knew her life stories and memories. Book of You has given us a way of sharing that with her carers who can help her connect to them now.

Hearing familiar stories brings her comfort and calm. She is visually impaired, so for her to hear our voices is almost as good as us being in the same room.”

Book of You in the Community

Whilst Book of You was developed initially as a tool to help people with dementia, it is now used in all sorts of settings, including community groups and by people who are separated from other family members by geography.

Liz is 71, and has children and grandchildren living in the UK and USA. She started using Book of You a week after the Covid-19 lockdown started.  As an only child, her memories are now only hers. Book of You has helped her to remember names of old friends and get back in touch with a friend she hadn’t spoken to in 60 years.  Whilst she’s enjoying it as a personal project during lockdown, she hopes that her children will enjoy it in the future.

We are delighted to report that Book of You has fully repaid their social investment loan and they have performed against the targets we agreed with them in 2016


About the SE-Assist  Wales Fund

The SE-Assist Fund, being locally-based, ensures that the support offered is responsive to the needs of the community. In addition to financial support, working with our local delivery partners, we offer our investees the option of an experienced business mentor.

We have made four rounds of social investments in Wales where £585k has been lent, with an overall capital commitment of over £1m across all regions of the SE-Assist fund.

SE-Assist is privileged to have Business in the Community CymruInstitute of Directors WalesWales Co-operative CentreWelsh Government alongside, our founding partner and majority funder, Legal & General as members of our Social Investment Committee in Wales. 

CAF Venturesome is dedicated to providing social enterprises and charities with the affordable, flexible finance they need to sustain and grow their social impact and we reiterate our promise to do all that we can to support high-impact social organisations during this very uncertain time.  Unfortunately, we do not yet know if we will be able to open the SE-Assist Fund in 2020 but will continue to support our portfolio wherever we can.

Talk to our team on 03000 123 300 or email us at and we’ll be happy to help.