Inclusive interviews | Include.org

Meet Beth

Everyone is welcome

When I talk to people about Include, I always say how much it has made a huge, positive impact in my life and improved my quality of life, given me a purpose and that it is the BEST charity I have ever come across where EVERYONE is included, everyone is welcome.

I want the world to know that there is no place anywhere that makes you feel so included, safe, comfortable, happy and purposeful as Include does.

How it started

I first found out about Include by research. I moved back down to Surrey from Coventry, and wanted to find out if there were any Makaton groups nearby and that’s how I came across Include. I messaged Alix and it all went from there.

I wanted to get involved because I was very lonely and I enjoy Makaton so much, and use it a lot personally.

At first, I was very anxious, only because I always am when facing new places, people and situations BUT this didn’t last long! Soon I was comfortable and felt ‘included’ and part of an amazing community and surrounded by lovely, genuine people.

When I first went to Include, I started off just joining in the choir every Wednesday evening in Redhill.

Growing in confidence

It wasn’t long before I wanted to volunteer, make a difference and help others.

I also started to attend some of the Stroll and Sign walks on Saturdays, going to performances, and helping to design the new ‘Star of the month’ certificate and another certificate.

I am also now part of the Champions Group which I really enjoy and feel we all make a difference by working on and designing Easy Reads for people and giving examples and explaining things like ‘reasonable adjustments’ etc. 

Since being part of Include, I have gained confidence, made friends and have something to really look forward to each week; helping others, having fun, being included and having a purpose.

Signs of Change

Although I already knew most Makaton signs before I came across include, I have gained more skills from The Include Choir and the Champions Group. These include improved speaking and listening skills, trusting people because I feel comfortable with the people I’m surrounded by and learnt a couple more skills on my computer.

The things I do with Include really help me day to day and help my support workers, family and others around me to understand and communicate with me, and others in a better or different ways.

When I struggle, I can become non-verbal, so for support workers and family to know basic Makaton signs is very important and helpful. I am now able to feel confident to teach them the important basic signs that are useful so that they can best support me. 

I think it is important for people in all sorts of jobs to know basic Makaton e.g. hospital staff, doctors, teachers in schools, dentists and other professionals that might come across people who may use a different form of communication like Makaton.

We are all different…

My favourite quote is ‘we are all different, but all equal’ and I feel everyone at Include is treated equally no matter what their needs are and this makes me very proud to be a part of such an amazing group.

The next step in my Include story is to do volunteering more and make more of a difference, help people more, improve more skills and gain more confidence.

I have a goal and that is to do a solo Makaton song at Christmas, I hope I can get enough confidence in time.

Discovering Include is the BEST thing that’s happened and I am very grateful for all that everyone does to make it such a lovely, enjoyable group.

Penny Sims
Penny Sims
Communications and Partnerships Manager

Claudia and the Easy Read Christmas Quiz

At about the same time shops started selling Christmas items, Claudia joined the Include staff team.

Here she introduces herself and our free Easy Read Christmas Quiz.

“I’ve joined Include as a Speech Therapy Assistant.

Having Attention deficit and Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), means that my brain is wired differently from what is considered normal. In other words, I am neurodivergent just like most Include members. I only found out I had ADHD at the end of my Master’s degree in speech and language therapy, when multiple social barriers made life very difficult.

The challenges of being a highly functional young neurodivergent adult, made me realise that much needs to be done to implement the social model of disability in our society. In other words, much needs to be done for society to start seeing that impairments are most often caused by social barriers. With this in mind, I knew I had to somehow be part of Include when I saw their new speech therapist job opportunity. So, I applied even though I only fully qualify as a speech therapist next January and I live 90 miles away.

Joining Include

From day one, I felt welcomed and comfortable enough to share my neurodivergence with senior members of staff. Not only I felt incredibly supported, but also felt that my neurodivergence was seen as a strength.





It is really amazing to find organisations such as include! Indeed, seeing difference as a valuable asset is at the core of the organisation culture and this was clear from the day I interviewed for the job. To my great surprise, an include member who has a learning disability, was part of the interview panel. If our society was as inclusive as Include, experiencing this would not have been a surprise for me. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to see small changes towards a more inclusive world and certain that I had made the right decision by applying to Include!

Working with The Champions Group on the Christmas Quiz

The Include Champions Group sessions do more than just collaboratively produce content with people that have communication difficulties. From the first session, I felt a sense of union and friendship between all members of the group. Just like when friends meet, these sessions start with members spontaneously sharing how their week was and things they are looking forward to.

You will find the free audio format when you click here: SoundCloud

Alongside the collaborative work, group members also discuss various topics of their interest. This was no different at the last champions group session, where we jointly worked on the Christmas quiz.

Within this session we not only worked on the quiz but discussed different Christmas traditions.

Having in mind that I am Portuguese and Christmas traditions are quite different from England, this was such an interesting conversation!

I was very surprised to learn that traditionally some people in England set their Christmas pudding on fire and the champions were surprised to learn most Portuguese people eat salted cod with their Christmas dinner.

I suppose what made this conversation intriguing was that our differing perspectives on what constitutes a “traditional” Christmas were acknowledged as part of our world’s diversity. To put it simply, Christmas traditions are just forms of Christmas celebrations. Just like gestures, signs and body language are just forms of communication. If all forms of communication are equally embraced, people with communication difficulties have fewer barriers and fewer difficulties. This is what the social model of disability theorises and what Include.org believes!

If you are reading this blog, you are probably already contributing to this. Include is here to help if not!

We wish you all a merry Christmas and a more inclusive happy new year too.”

Penny Sims
Penny Sims
Communications and Partnerships Manager
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