Project information

Using the arts to build positive futures

With your support, together we can build brighter futures for women with lived experience of the criminal justice system. By creating a new dynamic programme of theatre making and creative learning, women will develop the skills, confidence and resilience to transform their lives.

January 2018 - August 2018

Charity information: Clean Break

Clean Break logo
  • Need


    The women we engage are frequently struggling with a range of complex, interlinked issues which underpin their behaviour, trapping them in a cycle of crime and vulnerability. They lack the skills, confidence, self-esteem and support to find new pathways to change their lives. Around 60% have an identified mental health need which undermines their attempts to build positive futures and changes within welfare and cuts to local services is further exacerbating their already fragile stability.


    Current and former participants at Clean Break are helping design a new approach to transforming lives. Women will become active members of Clean Break shaping our theatre output and engaging in creative opportunities alongside personal support. The women will become more resilient and able to set and realise their aspirations, with clear pathways for achievement. They will thrive, recognise their potential and experience increased community engagement with improved citizenship and self-worth.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Women will have increased citizenship, self-belief and worth


    » Women will be actively involved across the company in shaping our future creative learning offer.
    » Women will help develop the structures for future performance and other opportunities within the company’s creative theatre output.

    What success will look like

    Current and former students will have actively engaged in the development of our new offer through forum based consultation and one-to-one discussions.

    Aim 2

    Women will have increased aspiration for the future and improved confidence & skills.


    » We will offer theatre and performance skills training, alongside personal development designed to support women’s personal growth and resilience.
    » We will work with women in groups and one-to-one to help build clear aspirations for their future and the pathways for achievement.
    » Clean Break will actively work with partners offering personal support, further education, training and employment opportunities for the women

    What success will look like

    Women training at Clean Break will report they have increased confidence and self-belief, clear aspirations and improved future opportunities.

  • Impact


    By reframing our approach to engaging people in our theatre, we aim to build bridges, connectivity and belonging, creating social capital and stronger community with women with criminal justice experience, artists, the wider cultural sector, families and society. We will capture the impact of our work using our new Theory of Change, designed in partnership with external researchers to measure shifts away from offending and vulnerability, and towards positive, pro-social outcomes.


    Working with vulnerable women with complex needs presents challenges in terms of retention and commitment. We offer a comprehensive programme of support, alongside theatre making and creative learning, led by our specialist Support Team. The provision includes one-to-one assessments, one-to-one mental health support (three days per week), group surgeries (eg housing surgeries), weekly Health and Wellbeing sessions and counselling referrals to specialist providers.


    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 project report to our donors detailing the success of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £41,192

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £26,678 Programme development Service user engagement and expert consultation
      £11,092 Creating Learning phase one Offering skills development and support for women training at Clean Break
      £3,422 Programme overheads Consultation spaces and other overheads
  • 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.


    We work exclusively with women offenders and women assessed as being at risk of offending due to specific factors. This is a vulnerable group (17+ years) with multiple needs. Around 60% have mental health needs and last year: 82% were struggling with substance misuse, 52% were homeless/had a housing need and 74% had been unemployed for over three years. A large proportion of women report past experiences of childhood abuse and/or domestic violence in adult relationships. Trauma features highly.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Our almost 40 years expertise in working with non-professional artists and nurturing their creative talent has delivered exceptional results. 70% of women training with us move from their studies onto higher education, drama schools, volunteering or employment. Many of our graduates are now making a living as professional theatre artists for example, six graduates were cast in the Donmar’s acclaimed Shakespeare Trilogy and one former student is now trustee of Women in Prison.

    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 20 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 18 years experience with vulnerable and hard to reach groups (11 years with Clean Break).

Hear members of Clean Break talk about their journey

“I have felt supported, empowered and learnt I can sparkle on my darkest days.” “Its been like a second home to me. They have trained me, nurtured me and continue to help me grow. It has started my career, put me on the straight and narrow. I now want to use drama to change lives"

Testimonies from Clean Break students who have successfully graduated from our training courses