News — Clean Break



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
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
A photo of the cast of More Than We Can Bear on stage, accepting applause

Clean Break Shortlisted for Charity Governance Awards

We are delighted to announce that our board of trustees have been shortlisted for the Charity Governance Awards, in their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion category.

This recognition of our board’s commitment to developing our practise and creating a more equitable organisation, particularly in terms of anti-racism, is well deserved.

"Our creativity is empowered by diversity; co-production is a central tenet of all our work, and inclusion is the driving force of our board."

Ensuring that our board represent and understand the diverse community of women we engage with is very important to us at Clean Break. We are proud to have a number of trustees with lived experience of the criminal justice system or who have accessed our Programme, and have undertaken a Lived Experience Trustee training programme to identify and develop future trustees.

Our fantastic board has built a strong organisational foundation on which we can build, and work towards creating equity beyond Clean Break, becoming advocates across the arts sector.

We are very grateful to the Charity Governance Awards for this recognition, and are honoured to be nominated alongside other organisations doing incredible work.

tags : Awards
the artwork for Blis-ta, a collage of two women holding each other and smiling. Pink bold text reads 'Blis-ta by Sonya Hale'

Blis-ta wins at BBC Audio Drama Awards

Sonya Hale's audio play wins the Tinniswood Award 2022.

We are thrilled and so grateful that Blis-ta has been chosen for this award, which recognises outstanding audio drama writing, establised by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and Society of Authors in memory of acclaimed radio writer Peter Tinniswood.

Róisín McBrinn, Blis-ta Director and Joint Artistic Director of Clean Break - "We are so proud that Sonya’s writing has been acknowledged by the Tinniswood Award. As Lucy Kirkwood says in her introduction to Blis-ta, Sonya died a playwright and this is a huge celebration of that fact.

As well as the Tinniswood, we’d like to thank Ambreen Razia and Ria Zmitrowicz for their brilliant performances, Mimi Findlay for producing and Helen Skiera for her magnificent sound design. This audio drama would not have been made were it not for the kind support of Bertie Carvell, Jeremy Mortimer, Jessica Dromgoole and the National Theatre Sound Department who moved mountains to help make this happen at the height of lockdown.

We miss Sonya hugely at Clean Break."

a photo of Roisin Mcbrinn accepting the Tinniswood Award 2022 for Blis-ta

Róisín McBrinn accepting the Tinniswood Award 2022 for Blis-ta. Image credit: BBC / Tricia Yourkevich

Amy Hale (Sonya's sister) - "I'm incredibly proud of her and it is so heartwarming to see she is getting recognition for her talent, though of course it is bittersweet not to be able to share it with her."

Seeing Sonya Hale's outstanding play about young women, homelessness, sex work and survival be uplifted and commended in this way by the BBC galvanises us to keep producing bold, unapologetic work and shedding light on stories which are often left unheard.

Listen to Sonya Hale's bold, visceral and award winning play here:

You can also listen to Lucy Kirkwood's introduction to Blis-ta here:


With thanks to The Bromley Trust, Jerwood Arts, McGrath Charitable Trust and The Orseis Trust for their support of Blis-ta.

tags : Awards
Tonic Theatre Awards

Clean Break Receive a Tonic Award

We are delighted to announce that we have received a Tonic Award for our dedication to changing women’s lives through theatre and our commitment to new writing.

The Tonic Awards are a celebration of the achievements of game-changing women in theatre and the performing arts, and significant organisations, projects and productions that redefine the role of women in the performing arts, both on and off stage. Clean Break was recognised for forty years of work on the theme of women and the criminal justice system, giving opportunities to generation after generation of female creatives, and giving voice to women whose experiences are all too often silenced by society.

Clean Break member and Shakespeare Trilogy performer Jenifer Joseph presented the award to Lucy Perman, who was joined at the event by event by Róisín McBrinn Clean Break’s Head of Artistic Programme, Anna Herrmann Head of Education, Writer in Residence Natasha Marshall, and Member Sarah-Jane Dent.

Lucy Perman commented:

“This award is a brilliant recognition of all the hard work of everyone who has been involved with Clean Break over the past 40 years, and of the work that is happening with the industry to push for real change. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for us to look back over all the company has achieved and move forward into what is set to be a very exciting anniversary year in 2019.”

Other recipients honoured at the event were Emma de Souza, Waking the Feminists, The Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, Steffi Holtz and Gina Abolins, Kully Thiarai, Lyn Gardner, Caryl Churchill and Katie Mitchell.

Click here to find out more about our work and upcoming productions.

tags : Awards

Clean Break wins award for fundraising campaign

Clean Break has come second in The Big Give's Christmas Challenge Awards

We're excited to report that we have been awarded second place in The Big Give's Christmas Challenge Awards. We won this prestigious award because of the creativity of our campaign and the ways in which we engaged with our donors. Many thanks to all of you who spread the word and gave to the campaign - your support funded our four specialist courses for women with mental health needs for a whole year!

tags : Awards
Longford Prize

Clean Break wins The Longford Prize

The 2016 Longford Prize has been awarded to the Donmar Warehouse, Clean Break and York St John’s University’s Prison Partnership Project for work carried out over the last 4 years in women’s prisons and as part of the Donmar’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy

Clean Break has worked alongside The Donmar Warehouse at each stage of its all-women, prison-set Shakespeare trilogy. All three productions have starred Clean Break patron, Dame Harriet Walter alongside performances from graduates of Clean Break’s education programme.

In this final year of the trilogy, Clean Break collaborates with the Donmar on a project that sees a group of young women working with both companies to explore the links between the lives of Shakespeare’s characters and the lives we live today, creating a brand new piece of theatre by blending Shakespeare’s text with their own words. The programme will climax by giving students an opportunity to perform their own original work on the Donmar stage on 2 December.

The Longford Prize recognises the contribution of an individual, group or organisation working in the area of penal or social reform in showing outstanding qualities in the following areas: humanity, courage, persistence and originality.

The Longford Prize is awarded annually by a prize committee on behalf of the trustees and patrons of the Longford Trust. From 2016, the prize winner will receive £5,000, thanks to sponsorship from The McGrath Charitable Trust, founded by Kevin and Kate McGrath. The awards' ceremony takes place as part of the annual Longford Lecture on Wednesday 16 November. The Longford Prize is organised in association with The Prison Reform Trust, for more information please visit


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