News — Clean Break



a photo of Clean Break Members in a theatre workshop

Recruitment: Enterprise and Sales Manager

Because our work is about highlighting women’s experiences and providing gender-specific services to women, all of our positions are open to women only (exempt under Equality Act 2010 Schedule 9, part 1).

We’re looking for an enthusiastic and proactive Enterprise and Sales Manager to drive and develop Clean Break’s commercial income generation, maximising the income potential of our building and expertise through an ambitious hires and training programme.

You will bring experience of driving commercial business in the cultural or charitable sector, with skills and knowledge of either launching new products or achieving success in breaking into new markets. You’ll have excellent client relationship skills, with experience of converting interest into sales and may have found success in brokering lucrative corporate relationships in a non-profit setting.  

You’ll have a strategic approach to sales with experience of achieving targets and will be skilled in monitoring and analysing finances to develop concise reporting and sales projections.

You will be pivotal in securing new business for Clean Break’s training and hires offers, delivering strategic marketing plans and driving lucrative relationships with cultural organisations and businesses.

Please read the Recruitment Pack before applying for this role.

Recruitment pack - including link to application portal
Criminal Records disclosure information
Equality & Diversity Policy information

The deadline for applying for this role is 12pm on Monday 10 June 2024.

tags : Opportunities
two hands reaching out towards each other in a garden

Clean Break Joins The National Women’s Justice Coalition

We are excited to be welcomed as one of three new partner organisations of The National Women’s Justice Coalition (NWJC), alongside Kairos WWT and Trevi.

Established in September 2021, the NWJC is dedicated to achieving social justice for women by driving transformative changes within the criminal justice system (CJS) to reduce stigmatisation and improve outcomes for women and girls. The coalition’s membership group now includes 22 organisational partners, all expert in delivering trauma-informed support through women’s centres, women’s prisons and women-only premises. NWJC partners also include national women’s organisations that provide specialist services to women in custody and the community.

In November 2023 NWJC invited applications from UK based women’s organisations working with women in contact with the criminal justice system. This was with the intention of welcoming up to six new partners to increase the coalitions reach, increase representation and support the NWJC’s growth. The coalition plans to welcome a further three new partners before the end of June 2024, taking its membership group up to 25 specialist women’s organisations from across England and Wales.

Our Artistic Director Anna Herrmann said, “We are thrilled to announce Clean Break's membership of the National Women's Justice Coalition and join their community of organisations doing such vital work with and alongside women who have experience of the criminal justice system. We look forward to bringing Clean Break's unique perspective to the coalition, and to learn from their growing membership”.

Learn about Clean Break’s work in women’s centres

an image of a woman with other peoples hands reaching out and covering her face

Clean Break Announce New Production: The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women

Co-produced with London International Festival of Theatre, in proud association with Brixton House.

Women who dare to transgress will face judgement.

The world premiere of The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women asks what is justice, and who has the power to decide. This bold and theatrical experience immerses us in the haze between the shared rituals of theatre and the halls of justice.

A passion is what obsesses us, what we take risks for. Throughout history, driven by "passion",  women have crossed the line between the legal and illegal, the moral and immoral and, because of that, faced the laws of their time.  Whether in public trials or in the intimacy of homes, a visible and invisible struggle has been waged against women who are judged for their passions.

Brazilian theatremakers Janaina Leite, Lara Duarte and Clean Break theatre company Members devise an epic journey through the theatre of judgement. We encounter the voices of historic, mythic women and the personal stories and passions of the women on stage, labelled as transgressive as truth and fiction collide.

London's International Festival of Theatre | Brixton House | 14 - 22 June 2024



Created by Janaina Leite, Lara Duarte and Athena Maria, Yvonne Wickham, Sarah-Jane Dent, Dominique Lavine Wood-Whyte and Kim Teresa (KT) Marsh
Concept, Dramaturgy and Direction - Janaina Leite
Co-Direction, Dramaturgy and Writing - Lara Duarte 
UK Associate Artist and Dramaturgy - Rachel Valentine Smith
Production Director for Artist team - Carla Estefan
Set & Costume Designer - Alex Berry
Sound Design - Mwen
Light Design - Sarah Readman

Artwork: Peek Images

tags : Productions
a photo of a woman raising her arm in the air defiantly and reading a script

Rewrite the Rules for International Women's Day: an invitation to businesses

Clean Break is offering businesses an insight into our practice this March

Did you know 47% of women identify workplace environment and culture as the primary obstacle to their leadership development? It is therefore unsurprising that 44% believe their organisations aren’t prioritising enough support for women to achieve career goals. [The Pipeline, Women Count, 2023

This is why throughout March, Clean Break will be offering a limited number of one-hour training sessions for businesses who want to support their female colleagues in reaching their full potential and cultivate a culture of empowerment in their organisation.

Celebrate International Women’s Day by challenging the expectations put upon women in the workplace, from a position of awareness and empowerment, whilst supporting a charity that transforms the lives of women who have experienced challenges such as criminalisation, homelessness and mental ill health. 

Book a session for your team, and our expert facilitators will come to your workplace to share Clean Break’s unique insights, developed over four decades of supporting women to achieve beyond their highest expectations, and raising awareness of the visible and invisible ways which gender dynamics impact women professionally. 

The expert facilitators who will lead your session are Anna Herrmann and Katherine Yates. Anna is Artistic Director of Clean Break and has been working in the field of theatre and social change for thirty years. Katharine is a facilitator and coach, who uses creativity to lead cultural transformation work with a range of organisations. 

Set aside one hour, maybe over a lunch break, and provide your female employees with a platform to get inspired, learn new skills, shift perspectives and give their work a new lease of life. 

Women will leave the session 

  • Feeling refreshed and energised   
  • With a shift in perspective   
  • Seeing themselves differently   
  • With a sense of collective female power   
  • With insight into how our bold and unique organisation works 

The session will also provide a taster of how we work with our Achieving Greater Impact full day training and coaching offer. 

The details  

  • £599 (plus VAT) 
  • Valid for the month of March 2024  
  • Facilitators to visit your organisation 
  • Space requirements: Cleared space / Chairs / no tables / flipchart stand if possible 
  • 8-50 participants per session 

To register your interest or find out more information, please contact our Producer Maya:

An illustration of 6 magical women in the clouds, with the title 'A proposal for resisting darkness by Yasmin Joseph in collaboration with HMP Downview theatre company'

New Audio Drama: A Proposal for Resisting Darkness

An audio drama by Yasmin Joseph in collaboration with HMP Downview Theatre Company

Clean Break is excited to present a new audio drama, available to listen to for free on our Knowledge Hub.

"We will always be too loud for a world that never intended on listening to us. But we’ll speak all the same."

The malevolent beast Darkness has taken the voices of all women on earth, but a group of magical women in the clouds create their own proposal for resisting Darkness's power. Will they succeed or will Darkness silence them for good?

A Proposal for Resisting Darkness was created with a group of women at HMP Downview and playwright Yasmin Joseph during a series of workshops. The play was the outcome of Clean Break’s participation in Inspiring Futures, a research project involving leading arts in criminal justice organisations and the University of Cambridge and led by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance. A Proposal for Resisting Darkness was originally directed by Anna Herrmann and first performed by HMP Downview Theatre Company inside the prison in 2022.

To extend the reach of this abstract yet relatable play, A Proposal for Resisting Darkness has been adapted into an audio drama, originally broadcast across the prison estate of England and Wales on National Prison Radio and now available online on Clean Break’s Knowledge Hub.

The audio play is performed by Lisa-Marie Ashworth, Shona Babayemi, TerriAnn Cousins, Polly Frame, and Jade Small, and is directed by Anna Herrmann. It was produced by Clean Break in association with Prison Radio Association.

With thanks to The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, Clinks, University of Cambridge, and Arts Council England for their support.

Listen for free on our Knowledge Hub

Playwright - Yasmin Joseph in collaboration with HMP Downview Theatre Company   
Director - Anna Herrmann   
Cast – Lisa-Marie Ashworth, Shona Babayemi, TerriAnn Cousins, Polly Frame, and Jade Small 
Producer (Clean Break) - Maya Ellis 
Producer (Prison Radio Association) - Perri Hurley 
Assistant Producer (Prison Radio Association) - Richie Makepeace 
Executive Producer (Prison Radio Association) - Andrew Wilkie

tags : Productions
a photo of Clean Break Members in a theatre workshop

Looking back at 2023

A round-up of Clean Break's activity this year

We are incredibly proud of all Clean Break’s achievements this year, despite challenges we continue to face, both locally as a community and globally. Below, we have taken a moment to reflect on some of our activity in 2023 and extend our thanks to everyone who made it possible. 

At the start of the year we embarked on an eight-week national tour of educational and professional settings with Sonia Jalaly’s play Catch, designed to deepen understanding about the vital role of women’s centres. The play was performed by Clean Break Members*, Daisy Bartle, Amy-Jane Pearce and Ann Whitely as part of an actors’ traineeship and reached over 400 audience members.

In March, we received the brilliant news that Clean Break had achieved a silver Trauma Informed Quality Mark from the charity One Small Thing. We are so proud to receive this recognition from an organisation we admire deeply at Clean Break.  Following receipt of the quality mark, we began delivering public sessions of our Leading with Kindness training, developed for arts practitioners and facilitators to learn about working safely with trauma.

In April, we opened our co-production Dixon and Daughters by Deborah Bruce, on the National Theatre’s Dorfman stage, a first for Clean Break. Dixon and Daughters told a moving and challenging story which highlighted the complexities of cycles of violence and was performed to our largest audience in the history of the company. The National Theatre welcomed our Members behind the scenes, embraced our initiatives around audience care, and played a significant role in helping to amplify this important story. Dixon and Daughters is now available on NT at Home.

Across the year, Clean Break has taken part in multiple research projects, which continue to build greater understanding and new thinking about the transformative impact of theatre and the arts in criminal justice settings. These academic partnerships, including with Goldsmiths and Southbank Universities, are an important way for us to extend our learning and connect across sectors, and we place great value on the learning that arises from them. In May, key findings from Women/Theatre/Justice, an interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project focussing on Clean Break, were presented at a celebratory event at the Shard, where keynote speakers included our Patron Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, academics from the project, Professor Caoimhe McAvinchey and Dr Deborah Dean, and members of our team. Artworks inspired by the research, by Laura Dean, were also presented in an exhibition titled un:mute

In June, we hosted an ‘Anti-Racism Takeover day’ for the Clean Break community, led by our Creative Associates Titilola Dawudu and Rachel Valentine Smith. This event was an important milestone in our anti-racism journey, and with an emphasis on learning and joy, we explored what anti-racism and allyship means to us collectively. Together we participated in beautifully held workshops, and as always at Clean Break, shared a meal. 

In July, our Head of Participation and Deputy CEO Jacqueline Stewart received well deserved recognition from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), receiving their Companionship Award for her outstanding contribution to participation work in the arts and criminal justice, which was presented by Paul McCartney. 

Over the summer we also welcomed five new trustees to our board, Catriona Guthrie, Lara Grace Ilori, Carien Meijer, Naima Sakande and Jess Southgate, who bring their expertise from the worlds of policy and campaigns, women’s rights advocacy and the arts, and all have a shared passion for Clean Break’s work. 

2023 also saw us complete the second phase of our Capital Investment project. Informed by our participation in the Mayor’s Business Climate Challenge and part-funded through Arts Council England, this phase focused on improving our environmental sustainability with the installation of LED lighting, replacement of boilers and refurbishment of other systems. The works were part of a filmed case study by Bloomberg Associates, sharing the improvements and impact. Our team, Members and hirers have already felt the difference in our building, and we look forward to beginning the next phase in 2024, which will improve our accessibility and enhance our trauma-informed environment. 

Clean Break’s first Playwrights Pathways programme took place this year, where six Members embarked on a nine-month playwrighting journey, in partnership with Royal Court Theatre. This programme was a huge success, with five writers, Fatima Dupres-Griffiths, Sorcha Fhionntain, Jill Power, Oriana White and Ann Whitely having extracts of their full-length plays performed in a celebratory showcase at the Royal Court Jerwood Downstairs in September. 

In October, we premiered our new film, Hope at an event at Kiln Theatre, hosted by Clean Break Patron Zawe Ashton. Hope is our first co-created film, by director Kirsty Housley and Member artists* Nicole Hall, Michelle Hamilton, Carina Murray, Natasha Jean Sparkes, and River. This lyrical documentary invites audiences to consider where hope really comes from, and what sustains hope during times of darkness. It is now available to watch online

2023 was also the second year of our participation in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Digital Accelerator Program, which saw us launching our new digital Knowledge Hub. We are thrilled to now have a new area of our website, rich with content and resources for audiences looking to engage with our work more deeply, including access to our film Hope. We are grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for their support throughout the program and look forward to creating more content and resources for our Hub in the new year. 

Our work in prisons and women’s centres continued this year, offering regular weekly workshops at Women in Prison and Advance women’s centres, and playwriting and theatre making workshops in HMPs Styal and Downview respectively. It is hugely important to us to have a presence in women’s prisons, as it binds us to our company roots, and we know from women we meet there of the hope, creativity and vital connectivity such workshops provide.   

We recently had the pleasure of announcing Lakesha Arie-Angelo as Clean Break’s new Associate Artistic Director, who will be joining us in March 2024. This new role was created to ensure shared decision making which reflects a broader plethora of voices, and we are so excited to welcome Lakesha to our senior management team next year. 

Earlier this year the Clean Break community received the heartbreaking news that Member artist Carrie Rock had passed away. We are grateful to the Royal Court for hosting a special event for Carrie in June, organised by her family and friends and supported by Clean Break. The event was an important moment for collective reflection and grief for those who knew Carrie, or who shared communities with her, as well as being a celebration of her life and incredible talent as an actor. As a community we have sadly ended the year with another loss – that of Member Katy Sage, who, like Carrie, has been known to the company for fifteen years. Katy performed in our 2020 small scale tour, Not Pretty Like the Rainbow. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends at this sad time.  

Thank you 

We have so many people to thank for being part of Clean Break’s journey this year, first and foremost are our Members for the creativity, resilience and warmth which everyone brings to our building each week. We would also like to thank our Member artists for their work on and off stage, and our Members Advisory Group for spearheading this important initiative to build engagement and involvement of Members in all aspects of running the organisation.   

Our team of staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly this year, we are grateful for everyone's commitment to Clean Break’s values and continue to be inspired by their dedication to our work. We are thankful to all who moved on from Clean Break in 2023, especially Lorraine Maher, who after ten years as our Participation Manager, and a year of sabbatical, has taken up a permanent role as Race and Justice Manager at CLINKS. We wish her all the best and thank her for many years of dedication and passion.

We would like to give special acknowledgement and thanks to our Creative Associates Titilola Dawudu and Rachel Valentine Smith whose fixed term contracts recently ended. During their year and a half in this role, Titilola and Rachel have immersed themselves across the company, and contributed significantly to our artistic output and to our organisational development. We wish them both all the best with their next steps and look forward to continuing working with Rachel in a freelance capacity.

We are excited to begin a new year with the team members who have recently joined us. We also look forward to welcoming Producer Dezh Zhelyazkova back in 2024, after going on maternity leave this year to have baby Florence Petra.

Thank you to our trustees for guiding us with passion and steadiness, and particularly to Tanya Tracey, who stepped down as Co-Chair this year after 9 years of service on our board, and whose expertise and dedication to Clean Break’s mission has been invaluable. We thank Alison Frater for continuing as Co-Chair with support from fellow trustee Alex Rowse, and we will be recruiting in the new year. 

We are indebted to our Patrons for being such passionate champions of Clean Break, and we look forward to continuing to work with them, and with award-winning actor Michelle Greenidge, who we had the pleasure of announcing as our newest Patron earlier this month. 

Clean Break is entering 2024 with a group of incredible writers on commission. We are excited to see what develops next year and beyond with babirye bukilwa, Emma Dennis-Edwards, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, Tash Marshall and Yasmin Joseph. We are also thrilled to be working in partnership with London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) and Brixton House on an international project with five Clean Break Member artists to produce an original works as part of the festival next June. More details will be announced in March.  

None of this work would be possible without our dedicated community of supporters. We are so grateful for their generosity which allows Clean Break to continue its transformative work into 2024 and beyond. 

We wish all our partners and everyone who has passed through Clean Break’s doors, engaged with us online, or seen our work on stage a restful break as 2023 comes to a close, and look forward to welcoming you back in the new year.

From Anna, Erin, Jacqueline and the Clean Break team

*Clean Break Members are women who participate in our programme, who have lived experience of the criminal justice system or are at risk of entering it. 

Clean Break Member artists are women who have participated in our programme and now engage with Clean Break in a professional capacity as freelance artists. 

a photo of hands reaching out

Support over the festive period

Where to access support while Clean Break is closed

Clean Break services will be closed over the festive period, from 4pm on Thursday 21 December 2023 until 10am on Monday 15 January 2024.

We know that this can be a challenging time of year, so we've made a list of helplines which will remain open.

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 are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Confidential support if you have survived any form of sexual violence, no matter how long ago.

Shelter Emergency Housing Helpline 0808 800 4444 - Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am - 8pm and weekends and bank holidays, 9am - 5pm.
Housing experts will advise you if you are at risk of homelessness.

BEAT Eating Disorder Helpline 0808 801 0677 – From 18 December 2023, the Helpline will be available from 3pm to 8pm - 7 days a week.
Support and information about eating disorders no matter where you are in your journey.

Cruse Bereavement Support 0808 808 1677 – See their website for 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

For a longer list of support services, please visit this page.

If you would like some ideas for places to go and things to do over the festive period you might like to download this pack, made by volunteers at Clean Break.

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

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

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:

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

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