Free Word’s network of associates includes individuals, groups and organisations working across the fields of literature, culture, politics, free expression, and the arts. If you’d like to learn more about the scheme, please contact SophieK@freewordcentre.com, or click ‘Become an Associate’ below.
26 is here to raise the profile and value of words in business and in everyday life. Our members include writers of all kinds: business writers, poets, novelists, copywriters, screenwriters, anyone with a love of words.
Our projects include 26 Exchanges with PEN International, From Here to Here with London Underground, 26 Treasures with the V&A, The Bard & Co with Shakespeare’s Globe, Common Ground funded by the Arts Council, and Wordstock – a festival of words held each year at Free Word Centre.
89up is a different type of campaigns, content and public affairs agency.
We run campaigns to make the world a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place.
We work with charities, private clients and not-for-profits to ensure they have as much impact as possible.
Why 89up? 1989 was the year in which the Berlin Wall came down and the World Wide Web was invented. Up? Well, it’s better than down.
We love free speech and we want more of it, not less.
The Alliance of Independent Authors
The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is a non-profit, professional association for indie writers. Our global team of advisors and industry professionals encourage ethics and excellence in self-publishing. We advocate and campaign for indie authors, forging relationships with industry figures to bring about the democratisation of publishing through community, partnership and author empowerment.
Biblio’s vision is a world where stories foster empathetic connections, improve wellbeing and reduce loneliness.
To achieve this, they’re building an online community, connecting readers with book curators who can guide them to works of fiction that offer them a fresh perspective on life. They aim to provide an accessible, preventative and stigma-free intervention for those struggling to cope.
Their bibliotherapy service invites readers to complete an anonymous profile detailing what is going on in their lives and how they are feeling, as well as books that they feel have had an impact on them in the past. They are then connected with one of a team of volunteer curators to discuss their profile and are offered reading recommendations. These curators are well-read, caring, thoughtful and non-judgemental, and include academics, librarians, authors and lifelong book-lovers from all walks of life. They all share Biblio’s belief that books can change lives.
BookTrust is the UK’s leading reading charity.
They know that children who feel confident and positive about reading have much better chances in life; they do better at school, have wider vocabularies, are more imaginative and enjoy increased wellbeing and empathy.
BookTrust reach every child in the country at key points in their development. As part of their work, they gift over 5 million carefully chosen books and resources to children throughout the UK. They work with publishers, local authorities, health visitors, children’s centres, schools and libraries to ensure that children and families have access to inspiring books, understand the importance of reading, and are helped to make shared reading part of family life.
Their programmes include Bookstart for babies and toddlers, Time to Read for children as they start primary school, and the School Library Pack and Bookbuzz for secondary school children. They also do more for those who need more support; Letterbox Club gives children in care extra books and opportunities, and provides stimulating books for children with additional needs.
They like to say that a book is not a book – it’s a doorway.
The British Centre for Literary Translation
The British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) is Britain’s leading centre for the development, promotion and support of literary translation.
Working closely with regional, national and international partners (including the Translators Association and English PEN), BCLT offers support and continuing professional development to literary translators at all stages of their career; provides information and advice; stimulates public awareness and interest in literary translation; develops new audiences through events and publications; and generates and encourages academic debate.
Founded in 1989 by the late W. G. ‘Max’ Sebald, BCLT is based at the University of East Anglia and supported by Arts Council England.
Clerkenwell Writers Guild
Clerkenwell Writers Guild is a collective of like-minded freelance journalists and other media professionals who cover diverse themes, including social and economic affairs in developing countries, ethnic diversity, travel, music, and design industry trends, among other areas. Some members also teach journalism to aspiring young writers, both in the UK and in developing countries. Writers collaborate closely with organisations promoting freedom of speech, notably 89up.
Commonwealth Writers is the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation. It was set up in 2012 to inspire and connect writers and storytellers across the world. They believe that well-told stories can help people make sense of events, to engage with others and to take action to bring about social change. Responsive and proactive, Commonwealth Writers is committed to tackling the challenges faced by writers in different regions. They work with local and international partners to identify and deliver projects. Their activities take place in Commonwealth countries, but their community is global.
Connect Books comprises a family of companies which together provide a complete book supply service with our customers at the heart of all that we do.
Bertram Books is one of the UK’s leading book wholesalers, supplying booksellers of all kinds: independent bricks and mortar bookshops, chain retailers and internet suppliers in the UK and throughout the world. We offer free same day despatch of orders, excellent availability and customer service, and a range of industry-leading additional services and business support for our customers.
From its origins as a third-party seller, Wordery is now fully established with its own direct-to-consumer book website (Wordery.com). The site offers readers a place to find the books they want and discover the new books they will love. With competitive pricing and free delivery worldwide, Wordery is a real alternative online supplier and is one of the fastest growing businesses in this sector.
Dawson Library Services is a major operator in both the academic and public library sectors, supplying major institutions and libraries in over 100 countries. We supply both print and e-books (via our bespoke platform dawsonera) and a comprehensive range of essential services, bibliographic information and systems to the many varied and prestigious libraries and academic institutions we work with.
Our international businesses Erasmus and Houtschild offer specialist services, publications and journals to academic libraries and institutions throughout the world.
Connect Books is a division of Connect Group, a diverse portfolio of businesses, all of which are distribution specialists in their chosen markets.
Culture+Conflict is an ambitious new venture – independent, interdisciplinary, international and intercultural – to explore and amplify the distinctive role of culture in conflict and post-conflict contexts.
The aim is to support artists, writers and cultural practitioners working in these contexts by promoting and amplifying their work to international audiences, including policy-makers, politicians and diplomats. They act as a broker to connect people and build networks, and run a programme that includes events, research, workshops and projects.
The Curved House
Described by The Bookseller as “the ultimate hybrid company”, The Curved House is both a publisher and a production house, working across print and digital. Our core business is to design and produce books, websites and videos for publishers, literary organisations and individual authors but we also publish our own books that focus on improving literacy and reversing the decline in reading for pleasure.
The Curved House is a multi-faceted business but every aspect of our work is driven by a commitment to the same four things:
Good design: we believe poor design, particularly of books and text, diminishes our experience of reading and contributes to lower levels of reading for pleasure. We champion good design all the way.
Empowering authors: This increasingly complex world presents many new opportunities for writers online, but it can also be intimidating. We run regular trainings with partners like The Literary Consultancy (TLC) and the Society of Authors to ensure writers reach their digital potential.
Collaboration: Visual Verse, our non-profit anthology of art and words, is a homage to the power of democratic collaboration and is open to writers at all stages. We welcome your words.
Improving literacy levels: More needs to be done to improve literacy levels and encourage children to read for pleasure. Our children’s book imprint, Curved House Kids, publishes books that children can either write or illustrate themselves, allowing them to use their own ingenuity to develop core reading skills and improve their visual literacy.
emergents is a community interest company that aims to support the development of creative careers, enterprise and the economy in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and beyond. We aim to achieve this by nurturing creative talent and creative businesses through general and specific support, including mentoring, training, advice and networking.
Emerging Translators Network
The Emerging Translators Network is a forum and support network for early-career literary translators working primarily into English.
flipped eye publishing
flipped eye publishing limited publishes original poetry and prose on a not-for-profit model, an approach that has allowed them to focus on developing new writers – particularly writers from under-represented backgrounds – thus facilitating the emergence of truly unique literary talent.
Founded in 2001, flipped eye has won multiple awards from the Poetry Book Society, including Communion (2006, Jacob Sam-La Rose), White Narcissi (2007, Denise Saul) and Inklings (2013, Sarah Westcott); featured in independent and mainstream media globally; and was shortlisted for an IPG Award in 2007. flipped eye authors such as Inua Ellams, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Warsan Shire and Nii Ayikwei Parkes have gone on to gain international recognition. flipped eye publishing is the sponsor of the annual Venture Award for poetry.
Give a Book
Give a Book is a UK based charity (charity no 1149664) that gives books to a range of people where they will be of particular benefit. Their core belief is that to pass on a good read – to give someone a book – is a transaction of worth. New books are distributed to partner charities and groups, including Magic Breakfast, where they provide books for breakfast book clubs First Story who put writers into challenging schools, Prison Reading Groups and Reading Ahead, Doorstep Library, Age UK and Maggie’s Centres, as well as various schools and other literacy projects where pupils frequently have never had a book in their life.
if:book UK is a charitable company exploring digital possibilities for literature and the future of the book. Founded in 2007 by transmedia writer Chris Meade, with links to if:book Australia and Bob Stein’s Institute for the Future of the Book in the USA, they support the New Media Writing Prize, administered by Bournemouth University, and the Dot Award for Digital Literature.
They’ve worked with writers including David Almond, Coy Doctorow, Doris Lessing, Kate Pullinger and Saradha Soobrayen, set up the first UNLIBRARY, run salons, workshops, projects and the IFSO PRESS, a menu of new media writing. They work with Arvon Foundation’s annual Jerwood mentoring scheme.
Chris Meade has given talks and run workshops at book fairs and conferences around the UK and the world. He has an M.A. in New Media Writing and is studying for a PhD in Digital Writing at Bath Spa University, is a trustee of Modern Poetry in Translation and a member of Academy Inegales, an ensemble of musicians and artists collaborating to make new live work. Chris was previously Director of BookTrust and the Poetry Society, and a pioneer of Reader Development work in libraries.
Chris is currently writing a transmedia novel; find out more at www.nearlyology.net.
Index on Censorship
Index on Censorship is an international organisation that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression. The inspiration of poet Stephen Spender, Index was founded in 1972 to publish the untold stories of dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. Today, we fight for free speech around the world, challenging censorship whenever and wherever it occurs.
Index uses a unique combination of journalism, campaigning and advocacy to defend freedom of expression for those facing censorship and repression, including journalists, writers, social media users, bloggers, artists, politicians, scientists, academics, activists and citizens.
Index believes that free expression is the foundation of a free society and endorses Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”.
Inpress is the UK’s specialist in selling books produced by independent publishers. We support innovative, literary publishers across the UK and Ireland, delivering their fiction, poetry and non-fiction to book-lovers worldwide. Inpress brings beautiful, painstakingly-created, innovative and outside-of-the-mainstream books together in one place, selling to the book trade and direct to customers through www.inpressbooks.co.uk. We currently work in partnership with over 40 publishers, providing sales and distribution alongside complementary publisher services such as social media marketing, professional development and events.
Literature Across Frontiers
Literature Across Frontiers (LAF) is a European Platform for literary exchange, translation and policy debate. LAF aims to develop intercultural dialogue through literature and translation and highlight lesser-translated literatures. We are based in Wales, United Kingdom, and work in partnership with organisations and individuals across Europe and beyond on a range of activities creating opportunities for new literary connections, acting as a catalyst for collaborations and projects, as well as monitoring translation activities and debating policy in the field of literature and translation.
LAF is based at the Mercator Institute for Media, Languages and Culture at Aberystwyth University in Wales.
Living Space Project
Living Space Project is about creating vibrant neighbourhoods and strong communities through green space and urban placemaking.
We specialise in green neighbourhood projects, research, and strategy that have a positive impact on the lives of communities and individuals.
We work with communities, local authorities, charities, government, architects, designers and businesses. They look to Living Space Project for our proven track record of using collaborative cross sector and community development approaches to rejuvenate diverse neighbourhoods.
Living Space Project builds everything it does around our belief that ‘Everyone has the right to live in a safe, healthy environment and a great place to live.’
Our purpose is to help communities create urban neighbourhoods with healthy environments, green spaces and public places and vibrant economies for all.
Manifesto Club campaigns against the hyperregulation of everyday life. They support free movement across borders, free expression and free association. They challenge booze bans, photo bans, vetting and speech codes – all new ways in which the state regulates everyday life on the streets, in workplaces and in people’s private lives. They believe that the freedom issues of the twenty-first century cut across old political boundaries, and require new schools of political thought, and new methods of campaigning and organisation. Their rapidly growing membership hails from all political traditions and none, and from all corners of the world.
Maslaha aims to change and challenge the conditions that create inequalities for Muslim communities. They combine creativity with practical work and strategic thinking to tackle social issues in areas such as health, education and the criminal justice system.
They recognise that social issues sit within an ecology of interconnected factors, and therefore their work influences different levels: practice, policy and public imagination. Their work ranges from health interventions, to working with ex-offenders, to addressing gender inequality, to exhibitions that have toured 35 cities in 11 countries across Europe. Their work is rooted in locality but is used nationally and internationally.
In 2012, Maslaha was named one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals by NESTA and the Observer newspaper, an initiative to find examples of inspirational social pioneers. In 2014, Maslaha’s work in mental health was announced overall winner of the global Innovation Mindset Challenge, a competition run by Project Innovation in New York and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and Columbia University.
Minna Salami is a writer, speaker and social critic. She was born in Finland to a Nigerian father and a Finnish mother, and raised in Nigeria. She has since lived in Sweden, Spain, New York and London.
She writes a multiple award-winning blog titled MsAfropolitan.com, through which she has disseminated African-centred feminism to a wide and international audience. She is also a frequent international speaker as well as a columnist for the Guardian Nigeria.
PARS is an arts and sciences organisation led by art historian Hester Aardse and poet Astrid Alben. They invite artists and scientists to share their most revealing, beautiful, funny and mind-boggling research with them around particular topics. PARS publishes these in a publication series, such as Findings on Ice (2007), Findings on Elasticity (2010) and Findings on Light (2016). PARS also curates events, which are a mixture of art, theatre and scientific experiments, at different locations. Their aim is to stimulate curiosity and to celebrate beauty in knowledge.
Prison Reading Groups
Prison Reading Groups (PRG) helps to establish, fund and support reading groups in prisons. For prisoners, the groups can be an important route to desistance. They encourage empathy with the lives of others through reading; they encourage critical self-reflection and the mutual respect fostered in group discussion; and they help connect prisoners with family and the wider culture outside.
PRG currently supports over forty groups in more than thirty prisons nationwide. Their groups are varied and aimed at a range of target memberships: experienced or emergent readers; Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) or older prisoners; vulnerable prisoners and those with mental health issues. All groups choose what they read and new copies of the books are provided for members to keep or pass on to family or other prisoners. Wherever possible, groups are run by outside volunteers with support from the prison library.
Together with Give a Book, PRG also supports prison Family Days, providing volunteers together with books and book bags for children visiting a parent in prison.
RAW in WAR
RAW in WAR aims to support women human rights defenders working in countries in war and conflict, and to help end abuse and persecution against them, as well as to strengthen their work in areas of conflict.
Founded in 2006 by Mariana Katzarova, RAW awards the annual Anna Politkovskaya Award, given to a woman human rights defender who stands up for the victims of conflict. They also grant the Natalia Estemirova Memorial Scholarship for a woman from an area torn by conflict to study human rights journalism in London.
Founded in 1984 and active in the UK since 1986, Readers International (RI) made its name by publishing works and authors that suffered political censorship or exile in their home country. Thus, in the closing years of the Cold War, of apartheid, and of military terror in Latin America’s Southern Cone, RI successfully brought international acclaim for the first time to major writers like Chilean Antonio Skármeta, Argentinian Marta Traba and the Czech writers Ivan Klima and Ludvik Vaculik. With Dorothy Connell still at the helm, RI has achieved twenty-five years of successful small press publishing in support of the free word.
Sara Whyatt Consultancy
Sara Whyatt Consultancy provides professional services in global human rights advocacy, research, monitoring and reporting, with a focus on freedom of expression. Formerly head of PEN International’s freedom of expression program for many years, Sara Whyatt has in-depth experience in international casework and campaign strategies. She is connected to a wide global network of experts, organisations and funders on the leading edge of advancing the cause of human rights worldwide.
Selina Nwulu is a writer and poet. Her work is an exploration of both the personal and political which she weaves with themes of identity, daily observation, nostalgia, and belonging.
Her first chapbook collection, The Secrets I Let Slip, was published by Burning Eye Books in September 2015 and is a Poetry Book Society (PBS) recommendation. As well as writing for a number of online outlets such as the Guardian and Red Pepper, her poetry has also been published by The Emma Press, Lunar Poetry, Free Word and the RSA.
She is currently Young Poet Laureate for London 2015-6, a prestigious award that recognises talent and potential in the capital. So far during her tenure she has read at Cúirt Literature Festival, Galway, and StAnza poetry festival, St Andrews, in which she was labelled as, ‘an emerging writer to watch’. She has read at both the House of Commons and the Lords. She has also been commissioned by Apples and Snakes, the RSA, A New Direction and Free Word.
She has previously performed at a number of festivals including Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe and Fiery Tongues Festival in Ruigoord, Holland. She has also previously toured nationally with Apples and Snakes, representing London as part of the ‘Public Address II tour’ as well as performing internationally at an EU Environmental Human Rights Conference in Budapest.
Skin Deep is a multimedia platform that seeks to address the way in which culture is simultaneously racialised and depoliticised in the mainstream, through content that amplifies voices of colour. We wish to empower artists, writers, activists and academics, cultivating a space where different experiences of race can be shared, retold and examined. Skin Deep is also the name of our online magazine and biannual print publication. The theme for our upcoming print publication, scheduled to come out July 2016, is IMAGINING 2043. We are currently expanding our project to include live events, podcasts and videos.
Spread the Word
Spread the Word provides support for writers of all levels – from networking events to publisher and agent talks, advice surgeries, mentoring and an online city of shared stories. They connect writers with the wider literature scene and offer a sustained relationship to talented writers for the development of their careers.
Stephen Armstrong is a journalist and author. He writes for the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian – amongst others – as well as appearing occasionally on Radio 4.
He has written four non-fiction books: The White Island (Bantam 2004), War plc (Faber & Faber 2008), The Super Rich Shall Inherit the Earth (Constable & Robinson 2010) and The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited (Constable & Robinson 2012). He has collaborated with the Donmar Warehouse on Privacy, Dead Earnest theatre on their stage adaptation of Anthony Beevor’s Stalingrad, and script consulted on Route Irish by Ken Loach – inspired, in part, by War plc.
He founded the Wigan Pier Workshops in collaboration with English PEN and is a trustee of the Orwell Youth Prize. He is working with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on its Unreported Britain project, and with English PEN on a series of follow-up writing workshops. Stephen is a member of Bug – the journalist collective behind the successful series of talks and events 37 Things You Need To Know About Modern Britain hosted by homeless charity The House of St Barnabas.
A design and publishing company, founded by Jim Sutherland, currently working for Royal Mail, Almacantar, Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) and on publishing projects in England, Spain, Switzerland and Brazil. Jim is a visiting Professor in Design at NUA and teaches and lectures extensively.
SundaySurgery is a development workshop for new drama scripts of all genres. It offers writers the rare opportunity to have a scene from their script workshopped by professional directors and actors in a rehearsal-room setting.
During the first two hours of the workshop scripts undergo an intensive rehearsal process, in which the director and actors are encouraged to give their responses to the text, improvise around it and experiment with different approaches in order to progress their writing. Writers are fully involved in the process too and have the chance to gain first-hand feedback from their immediate team as to how the script feels in performance, as opposed to just being read from the page.
At the end of the rehearsal, the script excerpts are performed to the rest of the group. Each performance is followed by a chaired, constructive feedback discussion. Writers gain further insight into their work through audience response and leave the workshop with valuable takeaways and ideas about how to progress their work. The performances are also open to industry guests, so all participants are welcome to use them as an informal showcase for their work.
If you would like your script to be considered for SundaySurgery, please email a 15 minute page excerpt or scene to email@example.com. Please avoid sending in the first 15 pages if possible, as opening scenes do not work so well in development.
Vivarta is a start-up digital publishing and production house for free expression rights, developing creative investigative journalism and advocacy programmes in conflicted, fragile and closed states (vivarta.org). Our interests are free expression, digital media, cultures of change and the conflict zeitgeist. We also host digital research and development programmes in online publication, issue analysis and cultural production (vivarta.net), to support our own work and that of our partners.
The Wake Up Foundation
An educational charity created by Annalisa Piras, a filmmaker, and Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist. They are journalists turned campaigners, aiming to raise public awareness of the dangerous trends currently under way in Western societies by using documentary films, made by Piras and Emmott, as tools to foster debate.
Through their campaign Wake Up Europe! they are currently encouraging people to host their own screenings of the polemical docudrama The Great European Disaster Movie in order to promote a transnational conversation about the Europe they want.
Anyone who can get a venue and an audience together – big or small – will receive a free voucher to screen the film, editable flyers and posters and a debate template to explore some of the themes of the documentary.
Word Factory champions short story writing and writers. Our salons bring together leading and emerging authors at intimate, friendly gatherings where they can read new stories to an appreciative audience. The ethos is collective support through mentoring, masterclasses and conversation at our events and online. We use the strengths of our writing and publishing community to encourage confidence and entrepreneurship and to create new publishing models for bringing good stories to readers at a viable price. Writers of the world: unite.
Writers' Centre Norwich
Writers’ Centre Norwich is a literature development agency based in Norwich. They are interested in both the artistic and social impact of creative writing, and work with writers, readers and diverse communities. They run a wide range of ongoing and one-off projects and events including the Worlds Literature Festival, a week of events, readings and discussion featuring writers from around the world; the Escalator Literature Competition; creative writing workshops; Summer Reads; the City of Refuge programme and Refugee Week.
Writing West Midlands
Writing West Midlands is the literature development agency for the West Midlands region of England. We support creative writers and creative writing in a range of ways.
We work with aspiring, emerging and established writers to help them sustain their creative careers by offering training sessions, advice and networking opportunities, including through our unique Room 204 Writer Development Programme.
We work with young writers and schools through our Write On! programme, giving children and young people the opportunity to develop their interests in creative writing. This includes working with writers in schools to bring professional writers into classrooms, our out-of-school Young Writers’ Groups network (the largest in the UK), and our online project, Write On! magazine.
Our festivals and events programme builds audiences for literature, including work by writers in our region. This includes the Birmingham Literature Festival, and also works with a network of literature and spoken word festivals across the region.
We run a programme of workshops, both as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival and across the year. These are for aspiring, emerging and established writers and some are run in partnership with the National Association for Writers in Education (NAWE).
We also work to make the West Midlands an attractive region in which to be involved in creative writing and literature. This includes supporting a network of independent publishers, working with universities that teach creative writing, and brokering new opportunities for writers.
More information coming soon.
Engage with Free Word
European Literature Network meeting
- Tue 20 Sep 2016, 6:00pm-9:00pm
- Free Word Centre
Multilingual Creativity Series: "Speed-Dating"
As part of Free Word & Cultural Institute at King's 'Multilingual Creativity Series', journalist Anita Sethi reflects on workshops that took place between January and June 2016. Here, Anita shares a blog from the fifth workshop - "Speed-dating".
Introducing our new Director, Roma Backhouse
We are excited to announce that Roma Backhouse will succeed Rose Fenton in September 2016. Free Word will continue to work internationally to bring communities, organisations and individuals together through the belief that words change lives.