Last week marked the halfway point of our year of celebrations for our 40th Anniversary, and what a week it was. We’ve rounded up the whirlwind of activity to make sure you didn’t miss any Clean Break action.
We joined Women in Prison on Wednesday 26 June for their Mass Lobby of Parliament to mark one year since the publication of the Ministry of Justice’s ‘Female Offender Strategy’. The Lobby called on supporters of the strategy, which seeks to reduce the women’s prison population, to meet en masse at the Houses of Parliament and raise the importance of the campaign with their local MP. Women’s organisations from across the UK rallied together calling on their MP’s to increase investment (especially funds generated by the £80m sale of HMP Holloway) and support for Women’s Centres, and examine circumstances surrounding female offending. The day was a great success, with many MP’s including Dianne Abbott and Vicky Foxcroft pledging to support the campaign in parliament.
After the Mass Lobby, staff and Members continued the day at Rich Mix in Shoreditch for a screening of Without Walls, a short film created by Ft’work in collaboration with Clean Break and Sarah Wigglesworth Architects for The London Festival of Architecture. Poignant and compelling (we’re not being biased, it’s true!), the film explored the theme of boundaries, and, in the case of our Members, confinement. Five women described their experiences in stark detail, discussed the importance of Women’s Centres, and their ideas about alternatives to imprisonment. Set to haunting images from the now deserted HMP Holloway and illustrations from a former resident, Without Walls is a remarkably unique piece of storytelling.
Gender, Justice and Women’s Rights; Change, Progress and the Future was an inspiring event of lively discussion from Deborah Coles (Director, INQUEST) and Sonali Naik QC, both exceptional leaders in their respective fields. The event was hosted as part of the #FlyTheFlag70 celebrations which mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These two inspiring women detailed their ongoing efforts to effect women’s rights and penal reform in the age of austerity, where achieving fairness and equality seems like a never ending, but ever important battle. Over 10 years since the Corston report it’s a sad fact that very little has changed in women’s prisons. Yet the presiding message of Gender, Justice and Women’s Rights was hopeful; we must hold on to the change that has happened and continue to create it together.
Sometimes to influence change you must cause a stir. Our current production Sweatbox, written by Chloë Moss seeks to do just that, bringing audiences into the cramped, claustrophobic conditions of a prison van as three women share their stories of arrival, survival and anticipation. Audiences arrived at Clean Break on Friday and left with some serious food for thought. You can still catch Sweatbox at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, on 24 August and Orbit Festival on 19 September.
We’re halfway through the year, but don’t fear, we still have six months packed full of activity to celebrate 40 years of Clean Break. Click here to find out what’s happening over the next 6 months.