The Include Choir: hitting all the right notes with their inclusive approach

Every Wednesday at 7:30pm something magical happens at Redhill Baptist Church. This is the time and place where The Include Choir convene to perform songs together in a celebration of inclusiveness and acceptance.

The Include Choir, as the name suggests, is all about inclusion. The main aim of the choir, set up by specialist speech and language therapist and musician, Alix Lewer, is to highlight the importance of inclusive communication, and how that promotes social inclusion.

A lot of people (with learning disabilities, dementia, post-stroke or brain injury) can find understanding and using words alone a challenge. The Include Choir’s emphasis on inclusive communication mean that all forms of communication  are respected and used, not just speech. The choir uses evidence-based communication techniques (Makaton signing, pictures, easy words, body language, objects etc) to show people what can help, whilst simultaneously making the choir itself more accessible and inclusive to its members.

Include Choir inclusive communications communication disabilities Surrey charity

By using these inclusive communication techniques in rehearsals and when they perform, The Include Choir hope to raise awareness of communication disability, something they fear is often overlooked or misunderstood in wider society. Over 1 million people in the UK have a learning disability, and around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autistic spectrum; yet social isolation is still a real challenge, as it is for people with dementia or other acquired communication difficulties. This is something the choir aim to educate the public on, whilst also helping those who are dealing with such challenges. In addition, the choir helps to form skilled and inclusive communication partners of its members, which they hope will lead to the creation of more inclusive communities for people who find understanding or using words alone challenging.

Include Choir inclusive communications communication disabilities Surrey charity

Music is a universal language that we all share and enjoy. It is therefore the perfect way for Alix and co to work alongside, provide support for and learn from people who experience communication needs. It doesn’t stop at the choir though, as the parent organisation (currently registering as a CIO) is taking this even further with plans to raise awareness across the county and beyond, and help create support for people with communication needs in all organisations and communities, through training, campaigning and inclusive services.

Include Choir inclusive communications communication disabilities Surrey charity

The Include Choir has done so much since its formation, with support and membership growing fast. However, with big plans to get the choir heard across Surrey, and to help as many people as possible, it’s vital that the public get behind this wonderful initiative.

If you wish to help support The Include Choir, here are six easy ways you can do so:

  1. Subscribe to the Include Choir YouTube Channel
    The Include Choir puts out loads of great video content and their YouTube channel serves as a hub for the choir to promote the fantastic work they do. An easy way to show your support and get behind The Include Choir is to simply subscribe to their channel and share their videos with the world. Click here to visit their YouTube channel. If they can reach 100 subscribers, they would be able to have their own url (You Tube Address) which would help make the channel more accessible to people with learning or literacy needs.
  2. Shop online with Easy Fundraising
    That’s right, you can raise money for The Include Choir just by shopping. Simply follow this link to the Easy Funding website and select The Include Choir as your charity. You can then collect free donations for The Include Choir while you shop. They don’t take any financial details from you, and it doesn’t cost anything.
  3. Become an Executive Committee Member
    As the choir has grown from strength to strength, it understandably needs more hands on deck. Perhaps you have what it takes to make The Include Choir even better in years to come, and would be interested in giving your time for just 4 meetings a year with a great bunch of people. You are welcome to visit as a guest to see what it’s all about. Just click here to email or phone Alix on 07446 897835.
  4. Come and sing!
    An inclusive choir is only inclusive if singers without learning or communication disabilities lend their voices too. Fancy joining the choir? Rehearsals are Wednesdays, 7:30-9:00pm at Redhill Baptist Church. For more details, please click here to email the Include Choir  or phone Alix on 07446 897835.
  5. Volunteer
    As the organisation grows, both the Include Choir and are looking for people with a range of skills, so whether you are local to Redhill or not, you may well be able to help. To find out more, click here to go to the Do-It Trust Website to see the range of roles, or click here to get in touch.
  6. Donate
    The Include Choir is run entirely by volunteers who work really hard to secure the funds to keep the choir running. If you would like to help, you can give a single or regular donation via Golden Giving. Click here to visit their Golden Giving page. Every little really helps!

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Meet the cat rescue charity with big plans in Surrey

Founded in 2014 by a small number of devoted cat lovers, Here For Cats is a Surrey-based cat rescue and re-homing initiative. Earlier this year the group of volunteers achieved the landmark goal of becoming a registered charity, and are now setting their sights on bigger things.

The charity seeks to help cats in need in the Surrey area by providing shelter, warmth, food, veterinary care and love, and then finding suitable new homes. This is currently achieved using custom-built pens in volunteer back gardens, as well as relying upon foster-homes to help care for the cats. The big plan, however, is to open a purpose-built cat rescue centre in the near future.

Naturally the main focus of the new centre will be the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of cats; but it will also act as an educational hub from which the charity can promote responsible pet ownership. Building on this premise, the charity also intend for the facility to provide a resource to be used by, and to benefit, the entire community; with educational facilities and space for a range of activities. In a bid to promote mutual well-being, understanding and respect between people and animals, Here For Cats plan to run activities with guests to the centre including a Book Buddies scheme, courses in animal first aid and communication, as well as talks and clinics by animal behaviourists.

As far as the rescue-centre itself goes, Here For Cats plan to create a space that meets the needs of every animal they take in. This will include rescue pens, feral chalets and safe havens, a nursery for mums and kittens, a hospital and isolation facility, a retirement village, enclosures, boarding facilities and much more. In addition, there are plans to include public facilities such as a charity shop, cafe and gardens.

These are certainly ambitious plans, and the team at Here For Cats know this only too well. However, these are plans that the people of Surrey are bound to get behind. The charity is run entirely by volunteers who self-fund much of what they do. With no support from government or council funding, the charity does rely upon the kindness and generosity of the public. Every penny currently donated goes directly to the animals but more help is needed if the Here For Cats big plan is to go ahead.

Here For Cats are now actively fundraising to secure an area of land on which to build their rescue centre. All donations are welcome, whether big or small. If you want to help Here For Cats realise this goal then please click here to donate. Alternatively you may wish to become a sponsor.

If you are unable to donate, then there are still a number of other ways you can help, whether it’s volunteering your time to help with fundraising, transporting cats or even providing a foster home. For more details, please click here to visit the Here For Cats website.

Here For Cats Surrey cat rescue charity

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Are you concerned about Food Waste?

Are you concerned about Food Waste? Do you want to know what you can do to help reduce it?

Earlier this year I watched an article on Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast about the setting up of a Community Fridge in Southend.  The idea is to divert food that would otherwise be binned by supermarkets, local businesses and allotments and to make it available to the public, for free, in a refrigerator, in a public place.  It turns out that I am not the only one with a passion for avoiding food wastage and so a team of us has liaised with local businesses to set up our own Community Fridge in Dorking.  To raise awareness and to launch the opening of the Fridge, we have put together the following event in conjunction with Transition Dorking:

On 16th September we will be hosting The Community Table, a pop-up community eating house (for one night only) in collaboration with Waitrose, and hosted in the Christian Centre, adjacent to St. Martin’s Church in Dorking.  The temporary installation will showcase a three course, vegetarian £15 set menu designed to combat food waste and to launch a new initiative called The Community Fridge.

The dishes on the menu at The Community Table will be crafted using food that would otherwise have been thrown away, along with ingredient donations from a select group of independent food suppliers who share our ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy.  September is the most fruitful season and our volunteer chefs vow to create a menu without compromise to taste and flavour whilst also ensuring that nothing will be wasted – from root to stalk.

Tickets are available here:

The evening will start at 7pm and is BYO (bring your own alcohol!)  There will be music, great company and a chance to see the Fridge in action.

The Fridge will be open for ‘business’ on the 5th and 7th September and then on weekdays from the 11th.  We would be delighted if you are able to share in our event and also welcome you to use the fridge!

The Fridge is a non-profit venture and we need volunteers.  Do you have time to volunteer running the fridge?   Contact us on Facebook: Dorking Community Fridge @dorkingcf

Together, we can reduce food waste!