Welcome to Free Word. Interested in exploring the political and cultural power of words? Visit Free Word Centre today or read about our programmes online.



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.


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 our team of volunteer curators to discuss their profile and offer reading recommendations. Our 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.

Commonwealth Writers

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, engage with others and 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.

Stephen Armstrong

Stephen Armstrong

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.


PARS is an arts and sciences organization 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 us 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.


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.

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 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.

Studio Sutherl&

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 Norwich University of the Arts and teaches and lectures extensively.

Living Space Project

Living Space Project is about creating vibrant neighbourhoods and strong communities through green space and urban place making.

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.



More information coming soon.

The Human Rights House Network

The Human Rights House Network

More information coming soon.

Teatime Books Ltd

Teatime Books Ltd

More information coming soon.

Sunday Surgery/Dys The Lexi

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 sundaysurgery@gmail.com. Please avoid sending in the first 15 pages if possible, as opening scenes do not work so well in development.

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 & 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 & 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. 

We also work to make the West Midlands the 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.

Prison Reading Groups (PRG)

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. Thir 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.



89up is not-for-profit company limited by guarantee that will promote freedom of expression through partnership with existing freedom of expression and human rights organisations. The Bureau believes its role is to support other organisations develop their advocacy and campaigning to develop and enhance freedom of expression both in the UK and abroad.

Kobo Writing Life

Kobo Writing Life is Kobo’s self-publishing platform launched in the summer of 2012. Kobo Writing Life allows authors to publish in over 60 languages across more than 140 countries and has grown to the point of constituting between 10 and 18% of Kobo’s unit sales every week.

KWL users are allowed to directly upload their e-books to the Kobo global platform. This way they can enter multiple markets, significantly increasing the visibility of their works and the odds of gaining new readers.  The KWL platform has been localized to the following languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch.

Kobo Writing Life distinguishes itself by being free, open and collaborative. Offering an extremely user friendly experience and free file conversion to epub, Kobo Writing Life aims to help independent authors to engage with fans on a global scale through a top class e-reading service, and puts all aspects of publishing (editing, formatting, sales reports, marketing and distribution) in the hands of the writers helping them maximize sales.


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 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 hommage 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.  

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”.


Not Shut Up

Not Shut Up is a quarterly magazine which celebrates art and writing from those held in custody in the UK and increasingly abroad. We also run a number of publishing initiatives to help take stories of the unfree further. In 2003, our charity started publishing creative writing from prisons in London. Since then, we have come to represent all prisons, secure hospital, detention centres and other custodial settings the country, and increasingly from other parts of the world. Not Shut Up is distributed free of charge to 300 establishments around the country, featuring original poetry, prose, life writing, writing for the screen and stage etc, with a growing emphasis on other forms of art, including coverage of exhibitions, interviews with artists and organisations working within secure art contexts, competitions and mentoring programmes. 

Flipped Eye Publishing

flipped eye publishing limited publishes original poetry and prose on a not-for-profit model, an approach that has allowed flipped eye to focus on developing new writers – particularly writers from underrepresented backgrounds – thus facilitating the emergence of truly unique literary talent. Founded in 2001, flipped eye has won multiple awards from the PBS [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.

Clerkenwell Writers Guild

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 organizations promoting freedom of speech, notably 89up.  


Lapidus promotes the use of creative words for health and wellbeing

There is increasing evidence that expressive writing, the therapeutic use of poetry and other literature and related techniques such as journalling and storytelling, have the potential to promote health and wellbeing.

Lapidus members are practitioners working in diverse settings such as prisons, schools, hospitals and the wider community, as well as people interested in the field for personal reasons.  Members include academics, medical personnel, teachers, occupational therapists, librarians, psychotherapists, counsellors, as well as writers in many different genres.  A number of university departments are institutional members.

There is a network of Lapidus Regional Groups, including active groups in Cornwall, London, Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire, which organise local workshops and gatherings. 

Lapidus produces a journal and organises an annual conference.  The next Lapidus Day is taking place in Cardiff on Saturday 14th March 2015.

Membership is currently £30 for individuals and £150 for institutions.

Emergents Creatives CIC

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.

Sara Whyatt Consultancy

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, I have in-depth experience in international casework and campaign strategies. I am connected to a wide global network of experts, organisations and funders on the leading edge of advancing the cause of human rights worldwide. 

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. 


Poetry Translation Centre

The Poetry Translation Centre was established in 2004 to translate contemporary poetry from Africa, Asia and Latin America to a high literary standard. Poetry thrives on translation: it’s impossible to imagine English poetry without it. From Chaucer, via Wyatt, Dryden and Pope, to Ezra Pound’s Cathay, translation has been its life-blood.But English poetry has yet to engage with the rich poetic traditions of the many languages now spoken in the UK; for Islamic communities in particular, poetry is a particularly significant art form. Our work aims to redress that deficiency. By making their poetry at home in English, we aim to celebrate the cultures of communities that are frequently neglected and abused in the UK, inviting them to play a vital role in British cultural life.

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.


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 R&D programmes in online publication, issue analysis and cultural production (vivarta.net), to support our own work and that of our partners.



Word Factory

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.


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 they provide stimulating books for children with additional needs.

BookTrust is also home to a portfolio of arts projects and prizes, including the Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award and Children’s Book Week.

They like to say that a book is not a book – it’s a doorway.


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.


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 International PEN, 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 the Free Word Centre.

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.

Pop Up Projects CIC

Pop Up Projects CIC is a not-for-profit social enterprise with an impressive track record of engaging children, schools and families through imaginative, innovative literature events which impact on enjoyment of reading and writing. At the heart of our work is the conviction that by facilitating pleasurable encounters with authors and their stories, we can ignite imaginations, inspire future storymakers, and build more literate communities. Since 2010 over 24,000 children and parents have participated in our projects, including attending our flagship Pop Up Festival. In 2014 we expect to impact on an incredible 35,000 children and parents, as we bring our brand of children’s literature experiences to new communities and unexpected places in England.

Readers International

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, Readers International has achieved twenty-five years of successful small press publishing in support of the free word.

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.

Manifesto Club

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.

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.


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.

The National Academy Of Writing

The National Academy of Writing runs a London-based specialist course for committed writers seeking to publish a book-length work in either fiction or non-fiction. The Academy is led by practising writers and has extensive contacts in the publishing industry through the NAW Board of Directors, Patrons and Partners. NAW also provides unique writing events for literary festivals and University writing programmes.

If:book UK

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.


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 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.

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