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photos of Lakesha Arie-Angelo and Michelle Greenidge on a black background

Clean Break Announces New Associate Artistic Director and Patron

Clean Break is delighted to announce two new appointments, as director and playwright Lakesha Arie-Angelo joins the company from March 2024 in the newly created role of Associate Artistic Director and award-winning actor Michelle Greenidge becomes a Patron with immediate effect.

Lakesha Arie-Angelo is a theatre director, writer, dramaturg, facilitator and, most recently, Associate Director at Soho Theatre. In her role within Soho Theatre, Lakesha co-led the Writers Lab programme and was lead programmer of theatre in the Upstairs Studio space. Her credits as a Director include The Color Purple (2022 UK tour, for Leicester Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome; Nominated for 2023 Black British Theatre Award for Best Musical Production); Sikisa-Life of the Party (Pleasance Theatre Edinburgh, Soho Theatre);  Shuck ‘n’ Jive and soft animals (Soho Theatre); Summer Fest and Alive Day (The Bunker Theatre); and The Hoes (Hampstead Theatre).

As Associate Artistic Director, Lakesha will be part of Clean Break’s leadership team working closely with Artistic Director Anna Herrmann to shape and achieve the organisation’s artistic vision and strategy. As part of a new structure to ensure multiple voices at senior level, Lakesha will collaborate with our team, artists, Members, and partners to drive forward and enrich Clean Break’s voice and influence across theatre.

Actor Michelle Greenidge performed in Clean Break’s production House by Somalia Seaton (at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and The Yard Theatre, 2016) and as part of Rebel Voices On Stage (at Donmar Warehouse), a staged event launching Rebel Voices, an anthology of monologues from 40 Clean Break plays. Her stage credits also include Nine Night at the National Theatre (for which she won Best Supporting Female Actor in a Play at the inaugural Black British Theatre Awards and was nominated at The Stage Debut Awards for Best West End Debut), and debbie tucker green’s ear for eye at the Royal Court Theatre. Her television roles include Lola in Mandy (BBC) and Valerie in Afterlife (Netflix). She was recently announced by the BBC in the cast for the much-anticipated new series of Doctor Who

Lakesha Arie-Angelo: “It fills me with great pride and excitement to be joining such a respected and beloved company as Clean Break. To work alongside the executive team as Associate Artistic Director is a great new endeavour where I hope to further the important and innovative work Clean Break does. I first came to Clean Break some years ago as a volunteer, then as a facilitator on an education programme, so, to return as a creative lead within the organisation is a wonderful full circle moment. I look forward to championing the Clean Break community and creating positively impactful work and practices. Watch this space!”

Michelle Greenidge: “Clean Break has been so important to me on so many levels that to be made a Patron is not only a great honour but also a true responsibility to respect the life changing work that this incredible charity does. Working with Clean Break, on stage and through workshops at their studios and in prisons, has been an awesome and humbling experience and truly changed the course of my career. 

It is through the opportunity for so many women to tell their stories, be they redemptive, cathartic, or just a damn good tale, that Clean Break has changed so many lives and been such an incredible force for good over the last 44 years and I have no doubt, for as long as it is needed and supported it will continue to do, its most incredible work. As a Patron, it goes without saying, I hope to pass on the support Clean Break has given me, as many times over as possible and to continue to raise awareness and spread the news of the superb work Clean Break does,  as widely as possible.”

Anna Herrmann, Artistic Director/Joint CEO: “I am truly delighted to welcome both these brilliant women artists to Clean Break. Lakesha has been connected to the company over the years in various guises and being able to collaborate with her in this new leadership role is wonderful. I know she gets our focus on care and inclusion and brings a wealth of skills and experience that will support us making exciting new work in the future. Michelle has shown her unswerving support for the company since we first worked together in 2016. She brings her open heart to every interaction with us, and we are hugely grateful for her commitment to championing us as a Patron.”


Photo credit for Michelle Greenidge: David Reiss 
Photo credit for Lakesha Arie-Angelo: Dujonna Gift


Big Give Christmas Challenge 2023

This week, all donations to Clean Break will be doubled!

We are excited to announce that our Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign is now open. This means that until 12pm on Tuesday 5 December, you have the opportunity to double any donation made to Clean Break, at no further cost to yourself. No gift is too small to have an impact, as every £1 we receive will be doubled, sustaining our vital work.

This year, all funds we raise within the Big Give Christmas Challenge will go directly towards our industry-leading Members Programme, through which we offer a vital package of wraparound support which allows women to fully engage in our transformative programme, giving them the opportunity to rebuild their lives. This support includes provision for childcare costs, travel expenses to our women-only building, a hot meal at our workshops and more. Hear more about what this support looks like from the team and Members at Clean Break in our campaign video.

Please consider supporting Clean Break in this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge, to allow us to continue providing a safe and transformative space for women with lived experience of the criminal justice system, or who are at risk of entering it.


Thank you for your kind support. We look forward to sharing more with you soon.

A blueprint for Hope front cover

Introducing a Blueprint for Hope

The co-creators of our film Hope share a toolkit of resources to inspire hope and change.

“I can look at the world and either get drowned in it, or I can see the ocean as it is and look at the beauty and go, ok, what can I do?” 

Our Blueprint for Hope, a toolkit of ideas, exercises and prompts to accompany our co-created film, Hope, is now available to download. 

The document is intended to support the creative exploration of what hope means to you. It can be used individually, or as part of a group; you can choose specific exercises to do, or work through it from start to finish. 

The creative team used the exercises in this Blueprint to generate ideas, conversations, images and film footage that was edited together to make Hope  

Through this process, they conceived the film as a collage, understanding hope as a tapestry of individual people, actions and experiences that are woven together into something bigger.  

Now, they hope the Blueprint will enable you to think about and generate your own projects for hope. The intention is to cause a ripple effect, bringing more people along a journey of hope, because it’s not us that needs to change, it’s the world.  

Blueprint for Hope is available to purchase for £5 on our Knowledge Hub, where you will also find Hope the film.

Download our Blueprint for Hope

Blueprint for Hope is free for community groups. To request a free copy, email producing@cleanbreak.org.uk

tags : Productions
The cast of Hope sitting on a sofa, Natasha is writing in a notebook, the rest are looking over to see what she is writing

Clean Break launch Online Knowledge Hub

A new online resource developed with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies

Following months of hard work, we are thrilled to launch the Knowledge Hub with the digital premiere of our new film Hope. Developed with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator for Arts and Culture, this platform will be an ever-growing library of resources, information and learning experiences.

The Knowledge Hub will build on Clean Break’s decades worth of knowledge and resources in women’s theatre, activism, trauma-informed practice and criminal justice sectors. Presented in a wide range of media, there will also be opportunities to gain a deeper insight into past and up-coming productions, with interviews, behind-the-scenes films and more. 

The Knowledge Hub will engage Clean Break’s three main audiences of theatre lovers, practitioners and students, and women who have experience of the criminal justice system or at risk of entering it, including Clean Break Members. 

Users will be able to navigate the Hub through three core areas, which each correspond to a strand of Clean Break’s work: 

Theatre, highlighting Clean Break’s productions from past and present, including exclusive access to our new film Hope.

Community, platforming our Members’ voices and providing creative wellbeing resources. 

Learning, exploring our unique, trauma-informed way of working and how we make an impact 

Erin Gavaghan, Clean Break Executive Director and co-CEO: “Investment in strengthening our organisation’s technological infrastructure will support our strategic ambitions. The Hub will enable us to expand our role as a leading force in the sectors we work in - sharing our practice, sparking compassion and action in our audiences, and investing in and nurturing the voices of our Members who are at the heart of Clean Break. We now have the perfect home for all the incredible content we have and plan to develop to reveal the depth of our practice and deepen understanding of the experiences of women who are marginalised in society.” 

Visit the Knowledge Hub

Read the full press release


Black History Month: Saluting our Sisters

Hear what sisterhood means to Clean Break community members

This Black History Month has been all about 'saluting our sisters'. Celebrating Black women in our community is always important, and this month our Creative Associate Titilola Dawudu sat down with Clean Break-commissioned playwright Emma Dennis-Edwards and Black women-led theatre company Nubian Co-heARTs, to talk about their craft and the meaning of sisterhood.




Lead still for Clean Break film, Hope

Clean Break announce new film, Hope

“It’s not us that needs to change, it’s the world.”

We are incredibly excited to announce Hope, a newly co-created film from Clean Break Members and director Kirsty Housley.

Hope is an uplifting story of personal growth and community activism, exploring what hope means for women facing adversity. Through personal stories, reflection, poetry and movement, Natasha, Carina, Michelle and Nicole navigate how to hold on to hope in times of uncertainty, and what to do when the world makes you feel there is none to be found.

This lyrical documentary offers an intimate portrait of four women pushing back against oppressive forces which threaten to squash their spirit. It invites us all to consider: where does hope come from, what sustains it during times of darkness, and how can we share it with others?

Featuring cinematography from Tracy Kiryango (BUFF Winner 2022), sound design by Elena Peña, and movement direction from Jennifer Jackson, the cast also partly self-filmed, scripted and moulded the shape of the piece, to offer their unfiltered and real voices.

Hope’s creative team conceived the film as a platform to inspire action and prompt public discussion. It will be accompanied by a toolkit of stimulus, Blueprint for Hope, used during the making of the film, that will enable a community around the film to also grow and develop their own projects for hope. Details on how to access Blueprint for Hope will follow the film’s launch.

Hope will be launched this Autumn across a number of screenings and released digitally on Clean Break’s Knowledge Hub.

Kiln Theatre, London – 30 October
Film screening launch event and celebration

Storyhouse, Chester – 4 November
Film screening and panel discussion with Carina Murray, Hope cast member and Paula Harriott, Head of Prisoner Engagement, Prison Reform Trust

Watch Hope online

tags : Productions
Playwrights Pathway production images

Playwrights Pathway Sharings Cast Announced

We are excited to announce the full cast for our sharings of Member Playwrights work at the Royal Court Theatre

Playwrights Pathway is a partnership between Clean Break and Royal Court, supporting a small group of Clean Break Members to develop their playwriting craft, working towards their first full-length play-script.

Each writer pitched an idea and across the programme these ideas have been developed into each writer’s first full-length playscript. Read our announcement of the details of these plays here.

We are excited to announce the full cast assembled for two sharings of rehearsed extracts from this body of work.

The company includes:
Catherine Cusack (Difficult Daughters/ Mix Up Mix Up)
Emily Taaffe (Difficult Daughters/swan)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Mix Up Mix Up/swan)
Posy Sterling (Glitz'n'Gutz)
Renu Brindle (Glitz'n'Gutz)
Sarah Kinlen (swan)
Shona Babayemi (Mix Up Mix Up)
Anna-Maria Nabirye (Mango Season)

Anna Hermann (Artistic Director, Clean Break) will direct Mix Up Mix Up and Glitz’n’Gutz, whilst Rachel Valentine Smith (Creative Associate, Clean Break) will direct Difficult Daughters, Mango Season and swan.

Tickets for the Playwrights Pathway sharings on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 September are free to book. For further information, please visit the Royal Court website.

tags : Productions
An image of two hands holding pencils over a page covered in handwriting. The images is overlaid with a teal coloured filter.

Pathway plays announced

We’re excited to share new details of our Member Playwrights work

We’re excited to announce new details of the plays due to be shown at two Playwrights Pathway sharings on 4 and 5 September at the Royal Court Theatre.


Playwrights Pathway is a partnership between Clean Break and Royal Court, supporting a small group of Clean Break Members to develop their playwriting craft, working towards their first full-length play-script.

These events will share a series of rehearsed extracts of the following plays:

Difficult Daughters by Jill Power

Difficult Daughters is an intergenerational story exploring three generations of women from the same family lineage, all with complex issues and needs around identity and belonging.

We look at their past and present and uncover traumas reactivated by colonial acts of violence, where over 2 million were starved and forced to sever their connection to the land.  Part gig-theatre, part drama, Difficult Daughters uses traditional Irish storytelling and folk music to capture the grandmother Patty's fractured sense of self.  Against the backdrop of four decades, we witness patterns of behaviours repeating themselves - until the mould breaks, bringing about change and hope.

Glitz ‘n’ Gutz by Oriana White

Glitz ‘n’ Gutz follows Maria, a young woman who has just been housed in a room in a temporary accommodation shared with two other girls. We discover the breakdown of family relationships between Maria and her foster mum, Ama and her girlfriend Gina.

Following Maria on her journey of healing, reconnection, transformation and self-discovery as she tries to come to terms with the effects of a life-threatening disease - Crohn’s. The party is over and she realises she must focus on self-care and self-love.

Mango Season by Fatima Dupres-Griffiths

Mango Season is about female genital mutilation (FGM) and the effects this has on a young eleven-year-old Somali girl. The play explores what womanhood means in Somalian tradition juxtaposed with what it means to our protagonist, Samira.

With the use of ancestral chorusing, an approach influenced by Ntozake Shange, Mango Season addresses the complexities of FGM and the relationship Samira has with her body, and her rejection of the traditions that are not part of her world. The trauma of Samira’s experience puts her on a different journey, far from her sheltered, privileged Chelsea upbringing.

Mix Up Mix Up by Ann Whitely

Mix Up Mix Up is a cross generational story that takes a candid look at how systemic and cyclical failures of state, racism and trauma impact the women we meet in this play. Their emotions, belief systems, and identity are all mixed up in a world that doesn't cater to them

Maureen is a white woman trying to raise mixed-race daughters Helen and Sharon in the 1970s and 80s. The sisters are trying to find out who they are in a world that offers little support and a lot of judgement. We witness the three women reckoning with the history that refuses to let them live in the present.

With the birth of a new generation, however, seeds of hope and resolution are sewn.

swan by Sorcha Fhionntain

swan is about three working class Irish women living in London. Lilly falls in love with Sinead. Macy, Lilly’s little sister faces displacement from her community due to gentrification. The play explores the relationships between Lilly and Sinead and how they embark on the journey into parenthood. It takes us on a journey allowing us insights into gentrification, bodily autonomy, gender expression and the challenges of love.


This programme was delivered by Rachel Valentine Smith and Titilola Dawudu, Creative Associates of Clean Break and Jade Franks from Royal Court's Open Court, with support from Dubheasa Lanipuken.

The Programme dramaturgs were Gurnesha Bola, Jade Franks, Rachel Valentine Smith and Titilola Dawudu.

Rachel Valentine Smith, Creative Associate at Clean Break says: “Working with the Writers each week to develop these brilliant stories has been a privilege. Delivering the programme with the Royal Court team has been such a rich and meaningful exchange that celebrates our organisation’s history together in a really special way.

There is no one way, no right way, no google-able way to write a play but each of the writers have approached it with incredible heart and verve. I can’t wait to share the work more widely.”

Jade Franks, Open Court Associate at The Royal Court comments: It has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with Clean Break on the Pathways Project. It's been an incredibly successful project which is indicative of the longstanding relationship between The Royal Court and Clean Break. For me personally, working with these writers every week for almost a year has been one the highlights of my time working at The Royal Court. I have been continually inspired by and grateful to be sharing a space with the six writers as well as all those part of the Clean Break community.

Open to the public and free of charge, we hope you will join us to celebrate these imaginative stories, brought to life by the individual voices and talents of our writers.

tags : Productions
Colourful paper cut out letters on a collage spelling KINDNESS and Clean Break

Jacqueline Stewart awarded companionship by Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts

Clean Break’s Head of Participation and Deputy CEO recognised for her work

We are incredibly proud to share that Jacqueline Stewart, Clean Break’s Head of Participation and Deputy CEO, has been awarded a companionship by Liverpool Insitute of Performing Arts (LIPA).

LIPA awards companionships for outstanding achievement and practical contribution to students' learning. Jacqueline was recognised for her work here at Clean Break, where she has held a role for two decades, joining as Support Manager in 2003, and later moving into the role of Assistant Head of Education on our previous education programme. In 2018, she became Head of Participation on our current Members Programme, taking on the additional role of Interim Deputy CEO in 2022, before being confirmed in the role from July 2023. Jacqueline is a champion for social justice and anti-racism and strives to create new opportunities to enhance women’s life chances. 

She was one of nine arts and entertainment luminaries to be awarded at the annual graduation ceremony, and was presented with her award by Sir Paul McCartney, who co-founded the Institute alongside Mark Featherstone-Witty in 1996.

Other recipients of a companionship this year included Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, musician and lead singer of Led Zeppelin Robert Plant, costume designer Jenny Beavan, actor John Godber, West End performer Anna-Jane Casey, singer and former UK Eurovision representative Sonia, playwright and director John Godber, theatre producer Ashley Herman, and lighting designer Tim Routledge.

Each nominee was invited to share some words of advice to LIPA’s graduating students for their lives and careers to come.

Jacqueline said: “I am honoured to receive this companionship award - for my work to be given such recognition is truly humbling. I am so proud of this opportunity to be here today on behalf of Clean Break.

I love my job, every day brings new challenges and joy, some days more challenges than joy, some days we have to pretend there is joy. At Clean Break we use the power of the arts to create and advocate. We aim to change the narrative about women in the criminal justice system; by telling authentic compelling stories, we hope to change hearts and minds. Graduates, now you will be on your own journeys to find a role you are passionate about.

My message to you graduates is simple: be kind. Kindness is underestimated. It takes courage and humility to give and receive kindness. Kindness means holding boundaries, and that takes strength. Be kind to yourself first and foremost, self-care is so important in this industry.

A good day at work is, in fact, learning. A bad day at work is, in fact, learning. A shockingly tough day at work is you guessed it … learning. Congratulations to each and every one of you and remember: be kind.”

In her capacity as a LIPA Companion, Jacqueline was invited to offer a masterclass for students, which she delivered in May 2023. If you would like to learn more from Jacqueline, she leads our trauma-informed practice training, Leading with Kindness, alongside Clean Break’s Support Manager, Tracey Anderson.

Find out more

You can also listen to Jacqueline speak further about her anti-racist work at Clean Break in this recorded conversation with Amardeep Kainth, Director of darvaja, on our Knowledge Hub.

tags : Awards
Colour photographs of Catriona Guthrie, Lara Grace Ilori, Carien Meijer, Naima Sakande and Jess Southgate arranged horizontally on a teal background

Announcing changes to our Board of Trustees

Welcoming Catriona Guthrie, Lara Grace Ilori, Carien Meijer, Naima Sakande and Jess Southgate

At Clean Break’s Annual General Meeting this week, we were delighted to announce the election of five new trustees who will be joining our board, with our Co-Chair Tanya Tracey standing down.

“It’s hard to believe that my time as a trustee and a co-chair, has come to an end. Although I am having to step down because I served my term and more, I also see it as progression. It means I am making space for someone else to take up the role, bringing fresh ideas to the Board and a space for someone else with lived experience to take up the position.

I want to thank the Clean Break Board, staff and Members for seeing the leader in me. Nine years ago, the value of having people with lived experience of the criminal justice system in positions of leadership was not considered essential. So, I am forever grateful for the opportunity given by former Clean Break Chair Kim Evans and the other trustees who I met when I interviewed to join the Board. Along the way I’ve met other amazing women leaders who supported and inspired me on my journey. When Alison Frater joined as Chair and suggested a Co-Chair model to the board, I was humbled by their support and commitment. I want to thank Alison for being courageous and making space to share power. And to thank the Board for their patience and encouragement. I have always felt valued by them all.

I hope my journey can inspire others to follow, especially women from the Global Majority and with lived experience, because these positions are ours to take up.

Finally, to the new trustees, thank you for choosing Clean Break. I trust you will gain much, learn much and thoroughly enjoy being part of the Clean Break family, I certainly have.” - Clean Break Outgoing Co-Chair, Tanya Tracey

“We are grateful for the support and guidance that we gain from our voluntary board of trustees in leading Clean Break. Tanya has been an inspiration to us all, and we are sad to come to the end of her term of service but will ensure that the legacy of her leadership is strong.

We are delighted to welcome new trustees to the Board who will each bring new perspectives and skills to guide us through the next period. We celebrate new voices adding richness to our discussions and decision-making.” - Clean Break Executive Director, Erin Gavaghan

Catriona Guthrie is a specialist in revenue generation for arts venues. She is currently Commercial Director for Battersea Arts Centre and has previously worked at the Lyric Hammersmith, Chichester Festival Theatre and numerous West End venues. Alongside her pursuit of sustainable business models, Catriona has a particular interest in transformative theatre and spent a two-year career break with charity Theatre for a Change working with women and girls in Ghana and Malawi. She was also on the team that helped set up The Mono Box, a community and toolkit for emerging artists, and sat on its advisory board throughout its 10-year lifespan.

Carien Meijer has extensive experience of working in various leadership and producing roles with organisations across the arts, local government and voluntary sector. Between 2006 and 2022, Carien was the Chief Executive of Drake Music. She is currently a freelance consultant and undertaking a MRes in Social Research & Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck University.

Lara Grace Ilori studied BA (Hons) Acting at RADA (2020) and will complete an MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology at UCL in 2023, researching decolonisation and cultural identity in Oyotunji African Village in South Carolina. Lara is a storyteller, wanting to share human experiences through various creative mediums. She is currently participating in the Soho Theatre Writers Lab, co-produces events under the title 'A Night With Lara and Caleb' with fellow actor and RADA graduate Caleb Obediah, and will be seen in new Channel 4 series Big Mood airing in 2023/2024. Lara first worked with Clean Break playing Munch in Typical Girls (2021), and hopes to contribute to the welcoming, championing environment she was met with when cast in her first professional stage job by the organisation.

Naima Sakande is currently working as a freelance charity consultant, specialising in women's rights advocacy. Before this, Naima was Deputy Director of the legal charity APPEAL, where she managed their Women’s Justice Initiative, specialising in case investigation for criminal appeals on behalf of women with histories of domestic abuse and mental illness. She has managed programmes for young women affected by gangs in London at the youth charity, Leap Confronting Conflict, as well as working on pre-trial criminal cases as an Investigator for The Bronx Defenders, an internationally renowned public defender office in New York City. She was previously Vice-Chair of Women in Prison and was a 2019 Griffins Society Fellow, conducting research on the barriers to appeal for women with the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University. Naima has a B.A. in International Development from Yale University.

Jess Southgate began her career in the theatre, having studied Drama at Bristol University and then working as a costumier. Her passion for women’s justice was ignited by a role at Clean Break, from which she went on to work in policy, research and campaigns in the voluntary sector for fifteen years. She has held roles with organisations including the Howard League, Young Women’s Trust, Plan International UK and NACRO with a focus on campaigning for transformative systemic change for women and girls. Jess is currently Deputy CEO at Agenda Alliance, where she leads work to convene, strengthen and empower organisations to influence gender and trauma-responsive policy and practice for women and girls with multiple unmet needs. She has a Masters in Gender from the LSE, is a Griffins Society Fellow, a Trustee of Clinks (having previously been a trustee for Women’s Breakout) and volunteers with Opening Doors London.

A group of women perform site-specific dance piece A Wondering Willow Dreams in the black-box studio of Clean Break's building.

Celebrating the close of our 2022/23 Members Programme

Clean Break and The Place collaborate on a site-specific dance performance

Our Members Programme has finished for the summer, and we have been celebrating everyone’s hard work and creativity this year with a series of creative sharings at Clean Break.

These culminated last week with a special performance by Members of a site-specific dance performance, produced in partnership with The Place.

Although the core Members programme came to a close in early July, 11 women remained enrolled to participate in an additional Summer creative movement project, led by Sara Dos Santos, a London-based choreographer, movement director and cultural producer.

The group collaborated to produce A Wondering Willow Dreams, a site-specific immersive performance in which both dancers and audience members travelled from the Clean Break courtyard, into our welcome area, before ending in our black box space. The performance was accompanied with filmed projections, highlighting the gentle and detailed movements in sections of the piece. These were created by Nur Hannah Wan, with footage shot during the rehearsal process.

Sara Dos Santos says: “A Wondering Willow Dreams explores the beauty and wonderstruck rhythms of nature and drew inspiration from trees and nature to inform our movement and creative process. Our four-day explorative process commenced with play, individual movement inquiry and ended with a joy-filled collective contribution towards the creation of the final piece.

Thank you to The Place and Clean Break for this impactful opportunity to not only empower such incredibly talented individuals but also learn from a range of creatives at different stages of their careers.”

Maria Ryan, Creative Learning Producer for The Place, comments: “The Place and Clean Break have been working together for over 12 years and this relationship has developed from delivering short courses of dance classes at Clean Break to creative movement projects. This year’s project was an ambitious one and formed part of Clean Break’s summer intensive.

In just four days, the group created a performance installation piece that was site specific, with Sara Dos Santos, Darinka Bojarquez (a student from London Contemporary Dance School) and Clean Break Volunteer, Celeste Cahn.

The group performed with such clarity and confidence, which I could see had been gently nurtured throughout the rehearsals, and I was so proud of the maturity and professionalism of the performers and the movement they created. It felt like a very special development of the work we, The Place and Clean Break, have been building together over the years. I look forward to next year’s project!”

Their performance was followed by a collective lunch for Members, staff, volunteers and Trustees, where we were able to applaud all the women who participated in our Health & Wellbeing, Theatre Making, Writing and Creative Space programmes this season. Members took some time and space to acknowledge their achievements, and their experiences and development over the course of the year.

We also took time to acknowledge the commitments Members had made to volunteering throughout the year and thank those who generously volunteer their time to us.

This was an especially meaningful moment for the Clean Break community to come together, as it marked the close of the first year of in-person activity after the disruption of the pandemic.

Jacqueline Stewart, Clean Break’s Head of Participation and Deputy CEO, said: “Our women were pleased to have the first full year of the Members programme back in our amazing building. We ended with a huge joyful event to celebrate their achievements, attended by a mixture of women from our community. These workshops and the trauma-informed support, build confidence, self -esteem, skills, creativity and sisterhood. Congratulations everyone!”

Our building is now closed for redevelopment works until September, and whilst our Members’ programme may be over until then, our volunteers have put together a list of things to do and support resources for across the coming months. Clean Break Members can download it on this page of our website.

We can’t wait to welcome everyone back in the autumn for the start of the new season.

a photo of Emily in front of a Clean Break play poster

A day in the life of a Development Manager at Clean Break

Clean Break Development Manager Emily shares what a day at at work looks like for her

8:15am – I work in the office 2-3 times a week so on office days I get up early-ish to travel to north London ready for what is always a lovely day in our women-only, trauma-informed community space.

9:30 – As soon as I arrive in the office, I say my hello’s and grab a cup of tea. We often have sweets/biscuits/chocolates in the staff kitchen which is great for a morning treat!

10am – Team Time is our weekly, all-staff meeting where we all share one key thing we’re working on that week. As Development Manager this can vary from getting an application submitted, writing a funding report, organising a Supporters event or updating the team on a funding success.

*If we’re in the office we celebrate any successful grant applications by ringing a bell (Selling Sunset style) and celebrating as a team which is very fun!

11am – Writing compelling funding proposals for Trusts and Foundations is a key part of my role and is the first step to hopefully getting money in and reaching our fundraising targets each year. After completing prospecting, I will work with teams across the organisation to prioritise applications and understand which projects to focus proposals on. After this, I will set about completing the funding applications (around 2-3 per month) often to tight deadlines (fuelled by lots of cups of tea in the process!)

1pm – Lunch time is one of my favourite parts of the day as we will often share a meal with Members and colleagues in either the Green Room or our lovely courtyard area. We have a group of wonderful Catering Volunteers who cook delicious hot meals 3x a week which makes for a lovely treat on office days.

2pm – Each week I catch up with our Head of Development and Communications to talk through what I’m working on and what’s coming up. I really value these weekly chats as they are a great way to check in, ask questions and make sure things are in place to support us both in completing work, which often have competing deadlines. We will work through our application/reporting trackers, discuss any events that need planning and talk through strategic plans for future funding.

3pm – Reporting: my favourite part of the job! It’s such a joy writing reports for funders to tell them about all the amazing activities that their funding has supported. These reports will be used to release grant payments, act as a renewal ask or summarise the end of grant. Reports typically comprise some key aspects: summarising delivery of projects (Members Programme, productions, prison work & partnerships), presenting monitoring data from Members/audiences and updating funders on the future of our work. Once this is all collated, I’ll spend an unnecessary amount of time making the report look good in Canva before sending to funders.

5pm – I spend time each month prospecting new funding opportunities to ensure we are aware of upcoming grants that we can apply to. Carrying out due diligence, understanding funding guidance and thinking about upcoming fundraising needs helps us to make informed decisions to support strategic plans.

5:30pm – After another lovely day in the building I head home, ready to go again tomorrow!

Clean Break is currently recruiting for a Development Manager and Development Co-Ordinator to support the expansion of the Development team. For further information and how to apply, please visit this section of our website.

Applications are open until Wednesday 12 July 2023.

tags : Opportunities
a photo from the set of Dixon and Daughters. A woman is lounging on a sofa, through a translucent wall you can see into a kitchen where two women are having a heated discussion.

Dixon and Daughters: Clean Break at the National Theatre

"It's a space for us to be able to find a voice for our life experiences."

We talked to our co-producers of Dixon and Daughters, the National Theatre, to share our process and approach to theatre, and what it means to our Members and staff.

Dixon and Daughters is on the Dorfman Stage until 10 June.

tags : Productions
A blue tinted rectangular image of women stretching together in a studio space. A white Clean Break Logo and a navy One Small Thing Quality Mark are overlaid on top.

Clean Break awarded Silver Trauma Informed Quality Mark

We are thrilled to announce that Clean Break has been awarded a Silver Trauma Informed Quality Mark by One Small Thing.

One Small Thing is a women’s organisation that works to facilitate trauma-informed practice across the criminal justice system. Their Bronze, Silver and Gold Quality Marks recognise organisations who can evidence they meet a robust, accessible, and supportive set of standards for working with trauma. One Small Thing developed the awards through an extensive analysis of existing global standards, principles, and values associated with trauma informed working practices.

Jacqueline Stewart, Head of Participation and Deputy CEO: “This award is testimony to the values we hold at Clean Break, trauma-responsiveness lies at the very heart of our mission, we strive to continue learning, as we recognise this significant approach to our work, is an ever-evolving process.”

Rose Mahon, Clean Break Trustee and trauma informed champion: “I am so proud of the staff, and particularly the Members Support team, whothat worked so hard together to achieve this. The award highlights and acknowledges Clean Break’s dedication and passion for working in a trauma informed way, which is embedded within the service through language, behaviour, the environment and our policies. It’s not just what we do, it’s who we are!”

Working in this way is a huge collective effort but heartfelt thanks especially for their contributions to the submission go to: Erin Gavaghan (Executive Director), Jacqueline Stewart (Head of Participation and Deputy CEO), Tracey Anderson (Support Manager), Koonyin Ho (Admin & Support Worker), Rachael Smith (Operations Manager), Anja Kulessa (Administrator) and our Trustee, Rose Mahon.

For more information about One Small Thing, visit their website: https://onesmallthing.org.uk/

tags : Awards

What can women in business learn from Clean Break?

Alison Jefferis is a previous Executive Director and Head of Corporate Affairs at Columbia Threadneedle Investments and a current Clean Break Trustee. As Chair of our Development Committee, in 2020 she supported us to establish our corporate training programme, Achieving Greater Impact. Here, she discusses the unique insights Clean Break has to offer women working in corporate and business environments.

When I joined the board of Clean Break in 2019, my motivation was to contribute to an organisation supporting women with lived experience of the criminal justice system to transform their lives. Established in 1979, Clean Break is a ground-breaking theatre company that has been at the forefront of this work for over 40 years, enabling women to build their confidence and skills through theatre-based training, personal development, and well-being support. I was interested in criminal justice and wanted to learn more, and was attracted to the idea of a theatre company using creative writing and performance for social justice. Being somewhat outside my comfort zone added to the appeal.

What I didn’t expect, was to discover a new way of working that would enable me to become a more effective colleague, manager and leader, and would better equip me to navigate many of the challenges we face today as the corporate world responds to shifting expectations – from colleagues, customers, regulators, investors and society more broadly.

"Clean Break’s experience working with women to own and articulate their strengths, navigate blockages and build presence and influence felt like it had a lot to offer women working in a sector that has struggled to address gender imbalance."

Core to the success of what Clean Break does, is how it operates. From its co-leadership model to the myriad ways it ensures its Members (the women it supports) have a voice in every aspect of the organisation, it questions accepted practice, embraces genuine collaboration, draws heavily on emotional intelligence and creates an environment that empowers all to contribute effectively.

As I got to know and understand Clean Break, I discovered it to be an exceptional organisation working in complex terrain, and it struck me there was a lot we in the City could learn. Clean Break’s experience working with women to own and articulate their strengths, navigate blockages and build presence and influence felt like it had a lot to offer women working in a sector that has struggled to address gender imbalance. In a professional climate that is increasingly reliant on emotional intelligence to promote genuine inclusion, safeguard mental health, manage hybrid-working and navigate ongoing disruption across the workforce, Clean Break is unlike any other organisation in its ability to offer insights that are highly valuable.

After exploring the potential for a corporate training programme, in 2020 a pilot was developed with the generous support of Columbia Threadneedle Investments. Achieving Greater Impact, a one-day training session for women in business, was launched soon after. Designed specifically for women working in environments that are traditionally more male-oriented, the full-day session draws on Clean Break’s specialist knowledge and unique practice and is for women who want to strengthen their voice, create a greater impact at work and progress within their team and in their career. Each participant also has the opportunity to follow up with a bespoke one-to-one coaching session focusing on individual goals and aspirations and ways to achieve them.

"In a professional climate that is increasingly reliant on emotional intelligence to promote genuine inclusion, safeguard mental health, manage hybrid-working and navigate ongoing disruption across the workforce, Clean Break is unlike any other organisation in its ability to offer insights that are highly valuable."

Through 2021 Columbia Threadneedle’s women’s network sponsored the programme, offering the session to all female employees at junior and mid-levels. The initiative was part of a broader strategy to strengthen the firm’s pipeline of diverse leaders by supporting female talent in new ways. More than 40 women completed the one-day programme over 18 months, with exceptionally strong feedback. Many of the women cited the unique value of Clean Break’s practice along with the importance of providing a safe, creative space to explore common experiences and overcome shared challenges.

Achieving Greater Impact will enable you to focus on identifying your unique capabilities, by utilising creative tools to explore and amplify the skills and qualities you bring to your workplace.

You’ll build your confidence, becoming comfortable with expressing and owning your strengths, receiving peer support and feedback, and developing your presentation skills.

And you’ll learn how to address barriers, overcome self-limiting beliefs and workplace challenges, and strengthen your voice.

You’ll share the experience with women you may not have met but have much in common with and will likely make fruitful new connections.

Alongside all of this, you’ll be supporting an organisation that transforms the lives of individual women each day while working to achieve a society where all women can realise their full potential.

Upcoming Clean Break Training

tags : Blog
Clean Break member Michaela is standing on stage and singing into a microphone.

INSPIRE: Clean Break at Rich Mix

Clean Break attended a showcase of work from the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance's Inspiring Futures project at Rich Mix, London.

On 21 March, Clean Break spent the day at Rich Mix for ‘Inspire: Sustainability in the arts and criminal justice sector’, a one-day festival and showcase of work from the ‘Inspiring Futures’ project, which is a unique partnership of leading arts organisations working in criminal justice settings, led by the National Criminal Justice Art's Alliance (NCJAA).

the artwork for 'a proposal for resisting darkness' it is an issustrating with purple and grey tones. the title is in a storm cloud in the middle and a group of women wearing different colour tshirts are above shooting lightning out of their hands.
The artwork for A Proposal for Resisting Darkness // Carys Wright

Clean Break’s participation in Inspiring Futures last year resulted in an innovative new play, A Proposal for Resisting Darkness, created by women in HMP Downview in collaboration with playwright Yasmin Joseph. Originally directed by Anna Herrmann and performed in the prison chapel, the play has now been adapted into an audio-drama and is due to be broadcast as part of a programme for National Prison Radio (NPR) this year. Hosted by NPR’s female presenters at HMP Styal, the full programme will be around an hour long, but a sneak peek of the recording has been made available to listen to at the Inspire showcase.

The day began with warm and enthusiastic welcomes from Brenda Birungi, aka Lady Unchained (NCJAA Co-Chair), Sarah Hartley (NCJAA Advisory Board Member) and Lorraine Maher (NCJAA Manager) before being passed to host Peaches to introduce each event.

Clean Break member Michaela is standing on stage with musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, preparing to sing.

First to the stage was the Irene Taylor Trust and members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), presenting work from The Lullaby Project. This programme supported participants with experience of the criminal justice system to work with musicians from the RPO to write personal lullabies for their children, resulting in some deeply moving pieces of music. The Lullaby Project offers an opportunity for people in prison to connect with their creativity through music, and to have a space to reflect on their familial bonds, creating something that can be shared with their children. Four lullabies were performed, including a beautiful piece written and sung by Clean Break Member Michaela.

Clean Break Producer Maya Ellis is shown speaking into a microphone on stage with Open Clasp Senior Producer Carly McConnelly
Image credit: Clinks

We had the chance to watch a powerful episode of Open Clasp’s filmed theatre piece Sugar, originally available on BBC iPlayer, which explores the realities of women’s lives lived in and around the criminal justice system. After the screening, we heard a panel discussion on digital sustainability featuring Clean Break Producer Maya Ellis and Open Clasp Senior Producer Carly McConnell, alongside Dr Sarah Doxat-Pratt from the University of Cambridge’s research team. It was valuable to hear varied and insightful thoughts around the successes and challenges of using digital media to connect with participants and increase the impact of theatrical work. Later in the day, Maya also delivered a workshop for attendees on using theatre in criminal justice settings with writer Yasmin Joseph.

Throughout the day there were opportunities to visit the installation of pieces developed during the project, which included audio recordings of spoken word, music and theatre, including our play A Proposal for Resisting Darkness. The showcase is open to the public until Sunday 26 March, so please do visit and experience the incredible work which has been produced during the Inspiring Futures project.

 An MP3 player is shown on a grey surface, alongside grey headphones, with an audio file playing titled 'A Proposal for Resisting Darkness'

The organisations involved in Inspiring Futures were selected based on the impact their work has on people in the criminal justice system, their innovation and their experience. Alongside Clean Break, the partners include Geese Theatre Company, Good Vibrations, Helix Arts, Irene Taylor Trust, Only Connect, Open Clasp and Koestler Arts.

The partnership has delivered a ground-breaking programme of artistic work in prisons, alongside embedded participative research led by a team at the University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology (IOC), to gather the robust evidence needed for a recognition of the impact of the arts in criminal justice settings.

Inspiring Futures is on display to the public at Rich Mix London from 20 March - 26 March 2023.

Lead image credit: Clinks

tags : Blog
black and white headshots of the cast of Dixon and Daughters on a dark green background.

Dixon and Daughters Cast Announcement

We are excited to announce the full cast as rehearsals begin this week.

Dixon and Daughters is a co-production with the National Theatre and Clean Break, the ground-breaking company producing theatre with and about women affected by the criminal justice system. It opens for performances in the Dorfman theatre from 15 April with press night on 25 April.

Róisín McBrinn (Artistic Director, Gate Theatre, Dublin) returns to Clean Break, where she was formerly Joint Artistic Director, to direct this powerful story of family and forgiveness, written by Deborah Bruce.

Mary has just been released from prison. She wants to come home and forget all about it, but Briana has other ideas. Over a tumultuous two days a family is forced to confront not just their past but themselves. Because even if you refuse to hear the truth, the truth doesn’t go away.

The cast includes Liz White (Anatomy of a Scandal), Andrea Lowe (Sherwood) and Posy Sterling (The Taxidermist’s Daughter) alongside Bríd Brennan (The Ferryman), Alison Fitzjohn (Typical Girls) and Yazmin Kayani (Nettle Day) who complete the company.

The set and costume designer is Kat Heath, lighting designer is Paule Constable, sound designer is Sinéad Diskin, movement director is Sarita Piotrowski, fight director is Rachel Brown-Williams for RC-Annie Ltd, with casting by Bryony Jarvis-Taylor.

Tickets for Dixon and Daughters are on sale now and available from £20. For further information, including details about assisted performances, please visit the National Theatre website.

tags : Productions
a black and white photo of Tanya Tracey

Being a Clean Break Trustee

Co-Chair Tanya Tracey gives her insight into the role.

Clean Break is currently looking for new Trustees and a Chair to join our Board, which is made up of inspiring women from many different walks of life who work to ensure we hold our vision and mission at our heart.

Tanya Tracey is one of our out-going Co-Chairs and has been a valued member of the Board for the last eight years, so we asked her three questions about being a Trustee at Clean Break. If you are considering applying but want to know more, read what she has to say about the impact it could have on your life and career, and the difference you could make in the lives of women affected by the criminal justice system.

What have you gained from being a Clean Break Trustee?

I have been a Trustee since 2014 and became Co-Chair in 2021, which has been an exciting and interesting experience. Being a Trustee increased my confidence to lead and as a result has bolstered my career outside of Clean Break.

I started the Co-Chair role with trepidation. Although, I had, of course, chaired many meetings before, I’d never taken on the responsibility of chairing an organisation. For me, the role meant part doing, part learning and I know that this was the same for my Co-Chair Alison Frater.

In the end, I’ve realised there are many ways to be a Chair. It works because it’s about the skills and experience you bring, it's not something you train for. It means that together we could set a broad base for chairing with both lived experience and learned experience. We share and discuss what we see and hear from each of our different perspectives. You get a stronger sense of co-production in the oversight and governance because the reach is wider and deeper.

How does being a Clean Break Trustee fit into your life?

It fits into my life because our values align. Knowing that I am part of an organisation that advocates for and amplifies the voices of women in the most difficult of circumstances feels right for me, especially as the most marginalised women go unheard.

Many of the women that call Clean Break ‘home’ or ‘family’ are women who have survived the unimaginable, including imprisonment. Clean Break’s commitment to having Members at the heart of all that we do fits well with my personal commitment of driving change through campaigning, influencing how people think about justice, co-production and centring those whose lives have been impacted by the criminal justice system.

Whilst this is the most important reason why Clean Break fits well into my life, I couldn’t have been part of the board if there wasn’t flexibility, support and understanding for Trustees' personal lives. By offering a more inclusive model of participating and contributing to the Board, I have been able to grow, develop and stay in post as Trustee and Co-Chair.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about applying?

Just apply. If the advert has caught your eye, I imagine it is because there is something about Clean Break that speaks to you. Your skills, expertise and experience whether it is lived, learned or a combination of both has value and Clean Break would love to hear from you. If you have never held a Trustee role, then let this one be your first. If you are passionate about theatre as a vehicle for change, if you are committed to anti-racism, if you are passionate about women’s voices being front and centre and challenging a justice system that harms the most vulnerable women, then Clean Break wants you!

To find out more about our Trustee and Co-Chair roles please click here.

tags : Opportunities
a production photo from more than we can bear at the Almeida theatre, the cast are taking their bows on stage

Looking back at 2022

Thank you to everyone who has been part of Clean Break’s journey this year.

2022 has been a year full of challenges for everyone, not just us at Clean Break. However, we are so grateful to be part of a community of women who care deeply for one another, and we are incredibly proud of all our achievements this year.

Our Members programme returned to our building full time, with the highlight being our first ever Members Festival: Limitless. Designed and co-produced by Members, the festival centred around the themes of Empowerment, Freedom and Kindness and featured sharings from our Members Programme, commissioned pieces and workshops led by our Members as well as online content.

A photo of Clean Break Members working on a collage together
Limitless Festival, mural workshop // Tracey Anderson

We saw more Members on stage this year, with our first production More Than We Can Bear: The Women’s Centre Workers’ Play, written by Eno Mfon. The play was part of the Keyworkers Cycle at the Almeida Theatre, a programme of new works celebrating the stories of those who kept our daily lives going during the pandemic.

Sonya Hale’s legacy continued and flourished with Blis-ta winning the Tinniswood Award at the BBC Audio Drama Awards. This was a hugely significant, moving and emotional moment for the whole Clean Break community, and testament to how compelling and valuable Sonya’s words continue to be.

At last we were able to engage once again with women in prison, with the Inspiring Futures project taking place in HMP Downview. A group of women in the prison collaborated to create a beautiful play with playwright Yasmin Joseph called A Proposal for Resisting Darkness, directed by Anna Herrmann, which some of the Clean Break team were lucky enough to go and see in the prison chapel.

the artwork for 'a proposal for resisting darkness' it is an issustrating with purple and grey tones. the title is in a storm cloud in the middle and a group of women wearing different colour tshirts are above shooting lightning out of their hands.
The artwork for A Proposal for Resisting Darkness // Carys Wright

Our major production this year was Favour at the Bush Theatre, written by Ambreen Razia and directed by Róisín McBrinn and Sophie Dillion Moniram. Favour was part of the Bush’s 50th anniversary season, and told the story of a working-class Muslim family navigating life as one of them returns home from prison. A highlight of the production was a well-deserved nomination in the Stage Debut Awards for Designer Liz Whitbread. Liz is a Clean Break Member Artist who has been on a journey with us for the past ten years, discovering her talent and love for design.

With Favour, we saw Róisín’s last production as Joint Artistic Director of Clean Break, as she left the company over the summer. We are so grateful to have had eight wonderful years with Róisín, and continue to stay in touch as she settles into her new role as Artistic Director at the Gate Theatre, Dublin – not least because she is directing our co-production Dixon and Daughters with the National Theatre next year, which we announced in November.

avita jay and ashna rabheru in favour at the bush theatre
Favour at the Bush Theatre // Suzi Corker

Following Róisín’s departure, an interim leadership structure was put in place, including long-standing team member and Head of Participation Jacqueline Stewart stepping into the role of Interim Deputy CEO. The interim model has served us well whilst the company has taken this time to review, reflect and consider our aspirations for leadership moving forward.

Our leadership team saw another milestone, as Artistic Director Anna Herrmann celebrated 20 years with the company, fittingly coinciding with International Women’s Day. Anna’s continued commitment to transformative theatre was recognised by the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with an honorary fellowship in December this year, a moment of pride and celebration for all of Clean Break.

Clean Break’s artistic team expanded as we welcomed two Creative Associates this year, Titilola Dawudu and Rachel Valentine Smith. They both have enriched our company in so many ways, including through the creation of a new Playwrights Pathway programme with the Royal Court theatre, which is an in-depth offer for six Members who want to take their playwrighting further.

The final piece of our 40 Year Anniversary Heritage project came together in May, with the launch of our Digital Archive, meaning the extraordinary gems we unearthed in 2019 can now be explored online from anywhere in the world.

Our anti-racism work continued in 2022 with us working with darvaja, a collective of women practitioners working to address systemic and structural inequality. This year we shared our anti-racism action plan with the Clean Break community, which we co-created over 18 months of work. We would like to once again thank darvaja for challenging us and holding this work with such care, and to the whole Clean Break community for your engagement and commitment on this journey.

Towards the end of this year, we received the fantastic news that our Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation application had been successful, meaning we will continue to receive their support until 2026. We are so grateful to have this investment and to know that the transformative work Clean Break does is recognised and valued. We would like to extend enormous thanks and appreciation to our Development team, for working tirelessly to ensure we can continue changing lives through theatre.

As well as our NPO funding, earlier this year we confirmed a successful application for Capital Project funding from Arts Council England, which will enable us to improve our building and infrastructure, with a focus on ensuring we maintain a safe, trauma informed space with improved environmental sustainability.

As well as developing our physical space, we are proud to be participating in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator for Arts and Culture, which supports arts organisations through strategic improvements to technology infrastructure.

Clean Break is the work of an extraordinary group of people and we would like to thank everyone who has been part of our company or engaged with us over the past year.

This includes our amazing partners, our Patrons, our Trustees, our community of supporters: the Arts Council England, and all the Trusts, Foundations, statutory partners, corporate partners and individual donors who have made our work possible.

A special thank you to our team of staff and volunteers for their continued commitment and perseverance; to our board for guiding us once again with such passion and respect for our company; to our artists for helping realise our shared vision with such imagination; and to Clean Break’s Members for bringing our building to life every week with your talents, laughter and friendship. We are endlessly inspired by you all, your creativity, care, and commitment to building a world where women reach their full potential, free from criminalisation.

We are excited to embark on this new year with you all, and until then we hope you all have a restful break and celebrate yourselves.

From Anna and Erin and the Clean Break team.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch with Clean Break

Lead image: More Than We Can Bear at the Almeida Theatre // Ali Wright

snowflakes on a blue background

Support over the festive period

Where to access support while Clean Break is closed over Christmas

Clean Break services will be closed over the festive period, from 4pm on Thursday 21 December 2022 until 10am on Monday 9 January 2023.

We know that this can be a very difficult time of year, so we've made a list of services which will still be open, where you can access the support you need.

NHS Direct 111 - Lines open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Confidential advice if you have a medical issue that is not life threatening or an immediate emergency.

Samaritans 116 123 - Lines open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You can get in touch about anything that’s troubling you. They’re here to listen.

Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 - Lines open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Trained women helpline workers and volunteers will answer your call in confidence.

National Rape Crisis Helpline 0808 500 2222 - Lines open between 12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm.
Confidential support if you have survived any form of sexual violence, no matter how long ago.

Shelter Emergency Housing Helpline 0808 800 4444 - Lines open 8am–8pm weekdays & 9am–5pm weekends.
Housing experts will advise you if you are at risk of homelessness.

BEAT Eating Disorder Helpline 0808 801 0677 – Lines are open 9am – midnight during the week, and 4pm–midnight on weekends and bank holidays.
Support and information about eating disorders no matter where you are in your journey.

Cruse Bereavement Support 0808 808 1677 – See their website for Christmas opening times.
A space to talk about your bereavement with trained helpline volunteers.

Find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline

If you are in serious danger call 999

If you would like some fun creative activities over the festive period you might like to download the Camden Wellbeing Challenge pack. You don’t need to do every challenge in the pack, but you might find some which you find fun and interesting.

We wish everyone a peaceful time over the next few weeks, and look forward to welcoming our Members back in January.

a photo of Member Nicole smiling. The Big Give logo is in white and the words Thank You are in teal

A BIG Thank You!

We have reached our Big Give target of £30,000

Our Big Give Christmas Challenge has been a huge success thanks to all of our amazing supporters.


Because of your support, we will continue to create new fulfilling pathways for women caught up in or at risk of entering the criminal justice system - supporting them to explore their creativity, build confidence and create community.

Our unique programme of support is needed now more than ever with the cost-of-living crises and mental health emergency of the last few years, and your donations have gone twice as far to ensure we can keep delivering our life-changing work.

This week our Members have generously shared their stories about how Clean Break has supported them on their journeys.

We shared an interview with Member Artist Lucy Edkins, which was published in the latest issue of Women In Prison’s magazine.

Sorcha spoke about discovering her talent and passion for writing through Clean Break, and joining our Playwrights Pathway programme.

Designer and Clean Break Member Artist Liz Whitbread wrote a blog about her ten year journey with Clean Break.

Donna shared how finding acting through Clean Break has helped her build confidence.

We re-shared an interview with Member Artist and actor Jennifer Joseph, and caught up on what she's been doing since we spoke with her in 2021.

Nicole told us how Clean Break has helped reignite her love for acting, and opened doors to new opportunities.

Aseema, Pam and Sue shared how Clean Break has supported their creativity, confidence and wellbeing in our main campaign video.

Thank you so much to all our Big Give supporters, our incredible Members, to everyone who shared the campaign, and to the Big Give, our Champion Funder, the Women and Girls Match Fund and our Pledge Donors.

Sign up to our mailing list to stay in touch

a photo of Sorcha at Clean Break with the big give logo in the corner

Big Give Christmas Challenge 2022

Support Our Members’ Futures

We’re launching our 2022 Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign!

Clean Break is a safe space for women caught up in the criminal justice system or at risk of entering it: to come together, be creative and imagine new futures.

Our Members face intersecting and marginalising challenges including racism, poverty, trauma, domestic violence and alcohol and drug use issues. These challenges mean our Members are among the most affected by the biting cost of the living crises and the mental health emergency of the last few years.

This widening disadvantage gap means that our specialist support is needed more than ever. We are working hard to keep the doors open, the heating on and to offer hot meals and food vouchers, whilst providing creative opportunities for our Members to build positive and fulfilling futures.

Anna says: “We know that harnessing creativity provides solutions to the needs of women facing deep disadvantage, and that our work is successful at unlocking women’s potential, raising aspirations and building hope. Over 70% of Clean Break’s Members progress into education, employment and volunteering and we are proud that the transferable skills they have gained at Clean Break have been vital in their career progression and therefore in their contributions to the cultural landscape.”

Our Big Give Challenge is raising money for a programme of work building a bridge for our Members to progress beyond Clean Break. Through these pathways our Members will develop further, learn new skills, build confidence and resilience, and forge new careers and opportunities.

As always, these exciting creative opportunities will be accompanied by our holistic, specialist support offer which provides a safety net for women in vulnerable circumstances.

The campaign is match-funded, which means that every donation made during the next week will be doubled. That means one donation, twice the impact.

We know times are hard – not just for us, but for everyone. No donation is too small to have an impact, and every £1 will help to make this work possible. If you can’t donate right now there are other ways to support, like sharing our campaign on social media and signing up to our mailing list.

Donate today to support our Members’ futures

Hear from our Members about the importance of Clean Break’s work:

With many thanks to the Big Give, our Champion Funder, the Women and Girls Match Fund and our Pledge Donors.

artwork for Dixon and Daughters. A collage of three women's profiles, they are different levels of transparency on a background of a wall with peeling paint.

Clean Break announce new production Dixon and Daughters

Opening at the National Theatre in April 2023

We are very excited to announce our spring 2023 production, co-produced with the National Theatre, which will play at their Dorfman theatre from 15 April 2023. Dixon and Daughters is a powerful story of family and forgiveness, written by Deborah Bruce (Raya, Hampstead Theatre). The play will be directed by Róisín McBrinn (Favour, Bush Theatre), Clean Break’s previous Joint Artistic Director, and current Artistic Director at the Gate Theatre, Dublin.

Mary has just been released from prison. She wants to come home and forget all about it but Briana has other ideas. Over a tumultuous two days a family is forced to confront not just their past but themselves. Because even if you refuse to hear the truth, the truth doesn’t go away.

The cast includes Alison Fitzjohn (Typical Girls, Sheffield Theatres), Yazmin Kayani (Loam, Bristol Old Vic), Andrea Lowe (How The Other Half Loves, Duke of York's Theatre), Posy Sterling (The Taxidermist's Daughter, Chichester Festival Theatre) and Liz White (Shadowlands, Chichester Festival Theatre). The set and costume designer is Kat Heath, lighting designer is Paule Constable, sound designer is Sinéad Diskin and movement director is Sarita Piotrowski.

Deborah Bruce was one of five writers who contributed to Clean Break's Joanne which was performed at Latitude Festival and Soho Theatre in 2016, she was also Clean Break’s Writer in Residence between 2016-18.

Clean Break’s Artistic Director Anna Herrmann: “We are thrilled to be working with the National Theatre, bringing Deborah Bruce’s emotionally charged and powerful play, Dixon and Daughters, to their iconic Dorfman stage. It has been a privilege working with Deborah over a number of years as she gave life to this important story and we cannot wait to share it with audiences. We are equally delighted to be reunited with Róisín McBrinn as she returns to direct, alongside many talented women artists, some of whom we have had the pleasure of working with before, and others we are excited to welcome to the Clean Break community.”

Tickets on sale now

tags : Productions

Clean Break's Arts Council Funding for 2023-26

Earlier this morning, we received notification of our successful application to continue to receive funding from Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation for 2023-26.

In such a difficult economic climate, we are extremely grateful for this investment in our mission. This committed funding will allow us to continue to pursue our vision of a society where women can achieve their full potential, free from criminalisation. We will build women’s creativity, skills and wellbeing; produce bold, adventurous and outstanding theatre that champions underrepresented voices; and engage audiences widely with the hidden stories of women and the criminal justice system, building advocacy that is critical for positive change.

Erin Gavaghan, Executive Director and Anna Herrmann, Artistic Director, said: "We are grateful for the continued support offered by being included in the National Portfolio again. This funding enables us to continue to build on the hopes and dreams of the Clean Break community, engage brilliant artists who share our vision, amplify the voices of the women we work with, and partner with theatres to bring new stories to life for our audiences."

Arts Council England Chair, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “We are facing economic pressures at present but this funding is about an investment in our future. This portfolio will support the next generation of visionary inventors, makers, performers and artists.”

Our Members (women caught up in the criminal justice system or at risk of entering it) will be at the heart of all our work, and we will invest in and nurture their voices, experience, expertise and aspirations. Through all our work – our collaborations, co-creations and co-productions – we will champion diversity on-stage and behind-the-scenes, always committing to our values of anti-racism, justice, inclusion and care.

We know this has been a difficult day for many organisations who have received cuts or haven’t been funded, and we send our love and support to our peers across the sector.

Thank you to everyone who is part of Clean Break’s community: Members, artists, staff, Trustees, volunteers, and audiences - we look forward to engaging you all in this work all over the next three years.

Keep up to date with Clean Break news, productions, training and more.