Project information

Building women’s resilience using the arts

We provide one-to-one support and specialist courses for vulnerable women, addressing mental health needs, personal wellbeing, coping strategies and confidence building.

£40 covers a week’s travel
£200 a term of art therapy
£400 one specialist course place

January 2017 - December 2017

Charity information: Clean Break

Clean Break logo
  • Need


    Poor mental and emotional health frequently underpins women’s offending, and forms a barrier to their positive progression. It is significantly more likely amongst female than male offenders, partly due to the very high rates of trauma amongst these women. Around 60% of women we work with have had a mental health diagnoses including personality disorders, clinical depression, schizophrenia and psychotic episodes. Many rely on negative coping strategies such as self harm and substance misuse.


    Using small group work and drama techniques women develop communication and conflict management skills. Creative exercises and drama-based techniques develop self-awareness, confidence and the ability to make positive life choices. Our non-judgmental environment allows women to understand anger and manage emotions better, and to practice new coping strategies. We also input on self-care, diet and exercise, sleep, breathing and relaxation, alternatives to self-harm, relationships and creativity.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    We aim to build the resilience of women offenders struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.


    » Making Choices (16 hr course) develops communication and conflict management skills using drama techniques, and helps women plan for the future
    » Self Development (30 hr course) provides strategies for dealing with difficult feelings, and develops self-awareness and confidence
    » Women and Anger (38.5 hour course) helps women understand anger, manage emotions and practice new coping strategies in a non-judgmental environment
    » Emotional Health and Wellbeing (16 hr course) focuses on what women can do to improve their mental health, from self-care to alternatives to self-harm

    Success will be the delivery of four specialist personal development courses offering over 145 hours of training to 50 vulnerable women with mental health needs

  • Impact


    The project will help women come to terms with and move beyond the factors that lead them to offend. Students will report that the programme has built their confidence and self-esteem, strengthened their support networks, and helped build their personal and practical skills to begin to build a more positive future. Every student will have the opportunity to progress onto our Education Programme and will receive bespoke signposting and referrals to specialist services.


    Some courses are delivered in partnership and we have clear partnership agreements and contingency plans should they be unable to deliver the course.

    Our Student Support Team works closely with each student, and is well placed to identify key risks, such as deterioration of mental health or addiction relapse. In such circumstances we work in partnership with the student, her key worker and other relevant services to find the most effective strategy for safeguarding her wellbeing.


    All donors can subscribe to our Newsletter, offering updates on our work and achievements, the success of our students and news of opportunities to experience our work first hand.

    We will provide a final end of year report to our donors detailing the take-up and success of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £19,700

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £12,382 Tutor Fees Delivering 4 specialist courses
      £3,788 Student Travel Every student has travel costs reimbursed
      £2,480 Tutor supervision We provide regular supervision and guidance for working with women at Clean Break
      £1,050 Materials and volunteer exp Volunteer input is vital to the success of the courses
  • Background


    The project will be delivered from Clean Break’s purpose built, and women only studios in Kentish Town, North London. The programme is open to women offenders and women at risk of offending from across Greater London and many who join are from local authority areas ranked in the Indices of Multiple Deprivation as being within the top 20% of those most deprived nationally.


    Clean Break’s Education Programme (which includes Personal Development) exclusively engages women offenders and women assessed as being at risk of offending due to specific factors. This is a vulnerable group (aged 17 years upwards) with often complex needs, and our students’ profiles reflect this. 95% of our students have experienced domestic or sexual violence as children or adults, and of women who joined the education programme last year 57% had mental health issues.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Clean Break delivers the UK’s only theatre-based education provision for women with experience of the criminal justice system. Our Personal Development programme is unique, with its offer of high quality and women-only mental health support within a safe and trusted environment as part of long-term and holistic support tailored to meet the specific needs of women offenders. The programme’s use of theatre-based exercises to build trust and relationships and develop skills is also pioneering.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Lucy Perman MBE, Executive Director

    Holds overall responsibility for our strategic leadership. Lucy has led Clean Break for 19 years, and was awarded MBE for Services to Theatre in 2004.

    Anna Herrmann, Head Of Education

    Leads our Education Programme. She has more than 25 years experience in theatre education, MA in Drama and Education and Post Grad. in Race Relations.

    Jacqueline Stewart, Assistant Head Of Education (Student Support)

    Leads our Student Support Service. Jacqueline has 17 years experience with vulnerable and hard to reach groups (11 years with Clean Break).

    Tutors & Women In Prison Course Partner

    Qualified specialist freelance tutors teach the courses, some from our partner Women in Prison who support women in and out of prison nationally.

Hear former and current students talking about their experience of Clean Break.


will pay for one student to join our special courses; £20 will pay for essential study material

“This has been a lifeline – it has helped me massively”

Self Development course student