Oxford Hospitals Services Charity has announced an end to its charitable work, however its final donation of £200 000, for the creation of a music studio in the Highfield Unit Oxford, continues to be of massive therapeutic value to young people on the unit.

The charity was set up in 1964 to provide additional healthcare facilities and equipment in Oxfordshire and initially derived much of its income from ‘give as you earn schemes’ set up at local businesses.  Workers at the Cowley car factories, Smith’s Industries and the Witney blanket mills, amongst others, would pay a penny a week towards the charity, which was run from 1987 to 2006 by David Buckle the former Oxford district secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union. The charity has said, however, that its work has come ‘to a natural end’.

Its final donation was to be the largest in its history, paying for a state-of-the-art studio, replete with instruments, recording equipment and software for production. The studio was finished and equipped in time for patients moving into the Highfield Unit Oxford in February 2013 and was named the David Buckle Music Suite.

The studio allows young people on the unit, which provides specialist inpatient services for those aged 11 to 18 with acute mental health needs, to use the facilities individually or in a group. Stuart Hobbs, who runs music sessions at the unit, explains:  “A young person can gain so much confidence from learning or developing some musical skills here. The turnaround you can see from a young person starting off with very little confidence, who will then happily play the drums in front of a dozen visitors, is incredible to see.  Group sessions are also great for developing team skills, which can also have a lot of therapeutic value.  You don’t need any previous musical ability to make music here so the equipment doesn’t just benefit musicians.  We have some amazing technology that allows the user to create very musical compositions without any prior musical knowledge”.

As well as helping the young people to compose and record their music, Stuart is currently working with them to compile a CD of music that they have made. He is also helping them make a film about arriving at the unit – the camera, lighting and sound equipment and editing software were bought following the generous donation from Oxford Hospitals Services Charity.

As the charity closes their books, they are donating their remaining funds to the studio to be held in reserve for future maintenance.

Stuart added: “I would like to thank the charity once again. The music studio, instruments and video equipment have been of huge benefit to the young people on the unit, who have developed new skills that have massively helped their self-esteem.”

Comments from the young people who have used the music studio include: “It has really helped me to believe in myself”, “It’s amazing”, “I could spend all day here”, “It has helped my confidence a lot” and “Wow”.

Highfield Unit Music studio