Members of The Include Choir

The Include Choir are breaking down social stigmas and tackling mental health through singing, song writing and signing.

The Include Choir welcomes those with communication difficulties and those without, to connect with one another and express their feelings and emotions through a shared love of singing.

Alix Lewer, the Director of The Include Choir said: “At Include Choir we aim to bring colour and joy to the lives of our members and teach a variety of skills which can be used outside with the choir.”

Alix also discussed how the project is combating much wider societal issues. “With one in five of us experiencing communication difficulties in our lifetime, either at birth or acquired – it’s an issue we must all consider.

“Those with communication issues often become isolated in society and this silence can lead to a whole variety of mental health issues.

“The Include Choir is addressing this by providing opportunities for members to come together as a community and say to others ‘this is who we are’ and ‘we can’ with confidence.

“We have a member who is non-verbal, but over the years she has learnt signs and now interacts with the group and meets and greets visitors, explaining the aims of the choir with an iPad app.”

“Another of our members is a nurse and she’s now able to sign with patients on her ward and bring smiles to their faces.”

At The Include Choir, project organisers teach the song lyrics through Makaton signing and other inclusive communication techniques such as pictures and objects, which ensures that each and every member can learn to their own ability. Members get involved in writing songs as well as performing and they use music as a tool for inclusion and learning about a range of relevant topics, including the Mental Capacity Act.

The choir has become popular within the local area and is often asked to perform at local events and conferences, including singing to health professionals, who have commended the project’s work.

The Include Choir was awarded £19,028 from People’s Health Trust with money raised by Health Lottery South East.

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