Co-production Week 2019

Co-production Week 2019

Thursday 27 June 2019

Co-Production: Sing out for inclusive communication

            By Alix Lewer and Susi Barran, the Include Choir                            

The Include Choir 
There is a growing recognition of music’s amazing ability to heal and promote wellbeing– but wellbeing is only part of the story. Music is also a powerful agent for change. The well-timed protest song may do more to influence change than umpteen academic articles or committees.

Music is a powerful form of communication and we also know that communication is power!

We know how powerless we feel if we do not have a voice. But sometimes we forget the other half of the communication exchange - understanding is also power. If we do not understand what people are saying to us, we are as excluded as if we are not heard.

And this is what makes The Include Choir unique – not only does it harness the power of song to give a voice to people who don’t feel heard,  it also uses and teaches the inclusive communication techniques which make genuine co-production possible.

An average Include Choir rehearsal uses:

·  * Makaton signs, symbols and pictures to support understanding and expression
·  * Visual timetables / diaries to maximise autonomy
·  * Accessible information
·  * Talking Mats & iPad apps to make choices, discuss and reflect
·  * Objects of reference or sensory interaction to engage people with more profound communication needs.

Inclusive communication means power is shared in all aspects from running rehearsals to introducing performances, inducting new members to choosing songs. Together with song, it breaks down the barriers between people with communication needs and other members of the community, meaning everyone can be involved.

The Include Choir also embraces musical coproduction when writing its own songs about things that matter to its members.  Rehearsal and repetition increases learning and understanding –whether singing about complex legal issues in The Battle Hymn of the Mental Capacity Act, or singing about a curry! For support staff, repetition also builds confidence in using inclusive communication.

Pity is disempowering and is not a word associated with The Include Choir. The power of song grants  a voice and reminds people that coproduction means supporting communication.  There is no pity, but there is a shared song, laughter and a commitment to ‘sing till we are heard’.  

To find out more about: Accessing the Battle Hymn of The Mental Capacity Act e-learning in 2020; mental capacity and inclusive communication training; booking The Include Choir; setting up an Include Choir in your area; Or anything else - please email

The Include Choir is a volunteer-led charity. If you would like to make a donation to help make the world more welcoming for people with understanding and speaking difficulties, go to


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