wellbeing | Include.org

Stress Awareness Month

Stressful Statistics

April is stress awareness month. Many people take this to mean work-related stress – and that is an issue. 1.8 million working people suffering from a work-related illness, of which 875,000 workers suffer work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

Source: Britain 2022/23 https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overview.htm

Group of professionals including people working in the Social Care sector

The CQC’s state of care report highlights that Social Care Workers are stretched and stressed by lack of resources and high levels of demand.

Meanwhile, among unpaid carers, who are estimated by the UN to meet 75 – 90% of care needs, carer burn out is also real. More than three quarters of all carers (79%) feel stressed or anxious, half (49%) feel depressed, and half (50%) feel lonely.

Source: The State of Caring Survey 2023

Communication skills and stress can be related. Sometimes when stressed, our ability to process or produce spoken language is impaired. And if it isn’t easy to communicate or if we are not understood, it is stressful. All of Include’s projects and training aim to build communication bridges, so that this stress is reduced for everyone involved.

Stroll and Sign project participants smile and wave at the camera

We welcome carers and support workers to our projects and they tell us that things like our Stroll and Sign wellbeing walks help them to feel less isolated and less stressed as a carer.

Being in nature with a supportive group boosts everyone’s mental wellbeing.

You can watch our video about How our Stroll and Sign project helps people. Why not come and join us?

Honest Insights

We asked a friend who is a full-time carer to share his experiences of stress and ways to help manage it. Here is what he said:

“I have always used the word stressed and stress for as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt anxiety socially, About everything really, being late, thinking that I need to be doing something better with my life or thinking that something bad might happen. In December 2020 something really bad did happen, my son had a brain tumour removed and then suffered from severe complications that meant that he needed me to be with him all day every day to care and help him to rehabilitate.

So, I learnt that what I was worried about before paled into insignificance compared to this new life. The stress of keeping someone alive 24/7, the stress of making sure they get the right calories, the right water intake, that they don’t have a seizure, they don’t hurt themselves, to try and get them out into social situations when they don’t want to get out of the car, the dread of impending scans and discussions with Drs to know if the tumour comes back, and a million more tiny stress points in the day while trying to operate as a normal family with my wife and daughter as well.

How do I deal with stress? Well, it is there and it won’t go away and most of the time I can handle it with the occasional ‘dummy spit’ where I have to take a few minutes to breathe. I ensure that I exercise at least 3 times a week, playing Football with a team helps as that is a great place to talk to others who are sometimes going through tough times themselves, but also to talk about Football and tactics that our crumbling bodies probably can’t execute come match day. I also go for a walk around the block on evenings where I need to get my thoughts straight.

My son is currently at a Neuro rehab centre in Surrey with a packed schedule of therapy and School sessions, so I am flat out getting him ready, getting tosessions on time, feeding him etc etc, after our first week we reviewed everything with the team here, and one of the key goals of this placement is for me to look after myself. Easier said than done, but very important because if I suffer then everyone suffers. It’s hard to let go, but I’m doing it step by step, and my son is responding well to me taking a step back at times. I’m also finding it really useful to chat to others who are in a similar situation, there is no agenda, we are all in tough situations and can just talk straight to each other. So, another way to manage stress is to speak to others, understand where you can step-back and that you may not be that vital all the time – the World will still turn without you.

It’s difficult to manage stress. Try to find time away from your day to day to do something you enjoy, chat to people wherever you are, walk round the block, maybe get some professional help if you feel ready, listen to your close ones if they say they are worried about you, there’s always some way to solve a part of the problems you are facing.”

Other things that can help

Sticky notes on a board with handwritten comments about how people relax when stressed

We asked some of our Include Choir members, support workers and volunteers to share how they manage their stress. Here are some examples of what they said:

“I relax by gardening, playing guitar and reading.”

“I like to talk to someone, listen to music or watch a film to cheer me up”

“Headspace and yoga. Listen to music. Exercise.”


“Turn off notifications on my phone!”

“Listen to music”

“Go for a drive”

“Deep breathing exercises”

“Take a long bath”

Easy Reads

Our Champions Group (people with lived experience of communication needs) has produced two relevant and helpful Easy Read resources – one about mental wellbeing and the other about physical wellbeing.

You can download them for free here:

Healthy Mind download LINK

Healthy Body download LINK

There are audio versions on SoundCloud too:

Healthy Mind

Healthy Body

Penny Sims
Penny Sims
Communications and Partnerships Manager

How helping others helps you…

“Everybody can be great because

everybody can serve.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why Do People Help Charities?

Why do we help anyone?

What inspires us to help will vary, but there is a common side-effect of helping; you get a boost and feel good yourself!

Two of our Include Champions, Beth and Sarah told us how being a Supported Volunteer (a volunteer with lived experience of communication needs), makes a difference:

Two seated Include Choir members look at each other at an outdoor event

Beth says; “Volunteering makes me feel like I have a purpose. It boosts my wellbeing in many ways because it helps me to help others and that is a good feeling that helps not only my mental health but emotional too.” 

Two seated Include Choir members communicate using Makaton at a rehearsal

Sarah says; “When volunteering in The Include Choir it makes me feel helpful and I’m loving working as a team there. It especially helps me forget everything and volunteering cheers me and builds confidence…

…Also it helps me gain confidence to volunteer with other services too. Just by volunteering I forget what happened and I look forward to coming to choir – I am always the first person to respond to events.”

The Champions have produced a FREE Easy Read on this subject:

How helping others improves wellbeing

Audio version on SoundCloud

How Can People Help?

We’re so grateful to all of the people who help Include. As a small charity the kindness of others is what enables us to keep going. We have a number of other amazing people who volunteer with us.

You do not even need to be based in Surrey to get involved!

Neta volunteers her skills remotely with Include, helping to edit some of our videos. She says; “Helping Include adds meaning and purpose to my life, fostering a sense of connection and fulfilment. By lending a hand and making a positive impact on someone else’s life, I also uplift my own spirits.”

Charlotte comes in person to weekly Include Choir sessions, she says;

Choir volunteer joins in with singing and Makaton signing - hands are raised

“Volunteering at Include is the highlight of my week. I feel connected and part of a lovely special group. Singing in a safe environment whilst helping others find their personal joy is sooooo uplifting and rewarding. It truly does make me very happy.”

There are many volunteering opportunities, so whether you would like to attend an Include project like the choirs in Redhill or Epsom, help on a wellbeing walk, or edit videos etc, please just let us know info@include.org

Members of the small part time staff team at Include also gain so much from working for the charity. Susi explains; ” When I read the advert for an Assistant Choir Director for Include, it sounded like the dream job for me – to be involved in music and fun and learning and making friends and sharing important messages. I’m so proud to be part of Include and when I attend rehearsals or performances the feeling of joy is palpable. it’s also incredibly inspiring to see the friendships that are made by others.”

Susi stands alongside members of The Include Choir all wearing their choir tshirts and performing outside

How Can Companies help?

In 2023 there were four stand-out organisations that helped us.

BOOSTFit, PowerTutors, WB Simpson & Sons, and Morr & Co.

Below we share some of the ways companies can, and do help.

Gifting Spaces

As a small charity we work from home and from community buildings rented for a few hours to run our projects. But sometimes we need a space to get together for team planning days and training. Local solicitors Morr & Co kindly allowed us to use the Board Room space in their office in Redhill on several occasions. Thank you.

Mike from Morr & Co says;  “We have really enjoyed getting to know the team at Include over the last few years. Supporting the communities in which our team live and work has always been part of our firm’s core values,  and providing a space for the Include team to get together or provide training is a really simple way for us to help out”.

Members of the Morr & Co staff team attended Include’s Makaton training (at a discounted price) because of the partnership.

Funding Specific Resources

PowerTutors kindly offered to fund a printed brochure for Include. Naz says; “At Powertutors, we recognise the invaluable contributions of Include in our local community. Their dedication to ensuring no individual faces exclusion due to communication disabilities is commendable. With innovative and thoughtful approaches, Include fosters an environment of inclusivity, empowering everyone to embrace and express their unique voices with confidence. We are proud to support their mission and witness the positive impact it has on enriching lives.”

Sponsored Fundraising

Close up of the sleeves of two people's cycling tops that have the Include.org logo on them

Billy, Max and Kirk from tiling company WB Simpson & Sons’ Head Office in Redhill participated in Ride London on 28 May 2023 to raise money for Include.org.

They raised nearly £1200 and even wore Include branded tops for the ride. Thank you.

Sharing Our Story

Our CEO and one of our choir members have links with a local fitness company BOOSTFit. The company is inclusive, community minded and keen to support charities. As they say on their Instagram bio they offer “A fun workout to heart-pumping popular music leaving you physically & mentally BOOSTed.” Our values were well aligned and they kindly said that they would help with promoting our Big Give fundraiser which raised over £38,000 in one week!

Cassie from BOOSTFit said; “Using our platform to help support Include.org and their Big Give campaign meant we could not only raise awareness and funds, but it opened up conversations between our community too. Our team of instructors spread across the UK and overseas used their own communities to share the story too. It was great to bring together a business and charity and collaborate for such a great cause.”

Follow and share our social media content:

social media details
Facebook is @include.org
X (Twitter) is @includetweets
YouTube is @inlcudetube
Instagram is @include_org
LinkedIn is @include-org
website is www.include.org

Corporate Volunteering and other help

The funding landscape for charities is very, very challenging now and we’re grateful for the continued interest and support of local businesses in Surrey. If you work for a community-minded organisation please do keep us in mind.

Could you help by:

  1. volunteering at some of our projects?
  2. sharing some of our social media content?
  3. sharing your professional expertise to help us improve?
  4. getting your organisation to consider us for payroll giving?
  5. mentoring one of our Supported Volunteers (people with disabilities)
  6. gathering a team of people from your organisation help to raise vital funds for the charity by taking part in a fundraising event for us – like Run Reigate?
  7. offering a storage space at your premises…we’d love to be offered a place in Redhill where we can store and easily access some of The Include Choir’s things.

To offer help or to ask any questions please email info@include.org

Penny Sims
Penny Sims
Communications and Partnerships Manager