Welcome to Free Word. Interested in exploring the political and cultural power of words? Join us at an upcoming event or read about the themes we explore.

Our Staff

Free Word is run by a small, dedicated staff led by Director Roma Backhouse.

Roma Backhouse

Roma grew up in Somerset. She has a lifelong interest in literature, and since 2000 has delivered projects that bridge the culture, social and regeneration sectors.

Roma founded the Bloomsbury Festival in 2006, developing a network of over 100 partners and 60 venues, including The British Museum, Wellcome Collection, UCL, The Place RADA, community organisations and individual artists.

Her cultural programming and producing includes large scale contemporary dance in the Great Court of the British Museum with Icon Dance, world music stages in Russell Square with SOAS, candlelit poetry in hidden architectural spaces with Faber & Faber and large scale participatory projects with Same Sky.

She has also worked as a consultant and advisor with organisations including Visit England, Holborn Community Association and the BBC.

She has degrees in English Literature and Language (Oxford) and Modern Literature and Culture (York), completed a Clore Fellowship in 2013, and lives in Holborn with her husband and son.

Tim Fletcher
Head of Venue

Tim graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with an English Literature with Drama degree in 2006. He then began work for Trestle Theatre Company at their Arts Base in St Albans. Most recently he has worked at Jacksons Lane for two years as Operations Manager before joining the Free Word team in May 2012. He loves reading a good book, attending theatre and live music and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Jo Gooding
Development Manager

Angharad Guy
Partnerships Development Manager

Angharad spent six years working in the literary arts sector in the United States, before returning to the UK in 2013. During her time in America she worked as programme manager for The Big Read, a national literature programme that supports innovative community reading projects across the US. After returning to the UK, Angharad joined FilmAid International and was responsible for operations and development before becoming deputy director. She has served on the board of directors for two arts organisations and as a panellist for arts grants in Minnesota.

Sophie Kembrey
Administration and Programming Co-ordinator

Sophie graduated from the University of York in 2014 with a degree in English and Related Literature. After working in in the North West, in an archive and for the National Trust, she has now relocated to London. She loves visiting museums and arts festivals, and, when not reading post-colonial literature, she is trying her hand at calligraphy, or on the look-out for new cultural events and yoga classes.

Benedict Lombe
Communications Manager

Bene was formerly Digital wiz at WrightJ and Motel Studios. Originally from a performance background, she previously studied Scriptwriting and worked in the theatre industry, learning the ropes at Paines Plough. She co-founded Rat’s Nest, a human rights-led arts organisation, where she utilised theatre to raise awareness for the plight of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo and campaign against sexual assault.

She remains vocal and active on issues of gender, race and social inequality, and most recently teamed up with The World Transformed to organise a political festival for young people to mobilise around issues of education, mental health, housing, employment and identity; exploring ways to bring about tangible social, political and economic change.

Her favourite phrase is ‘radical change’ and she fully intends to wear it out until it comes into existence.

Cath Longman-Jones
Resources Director

Mana Maye
Finance Assistant

Alex Moran
Operations and Communications Co-ordinator

Alex studied Screenwriting at the London Film Academy and graduated in 2013. Since then, he has worked as a freelance writer and reader, alongside working in a museum, gallery and theatre space in Merseyside. He loves film, music, the arts, and making bad puns.

Ceri Ellen Payne
Operations and Partnerships Co-ordinator

Ceri trained at Rose Bruford College in Stage Management and works part time as a freelance stage & production manager.

She has worked in Arts administration and Theatre management for the best part of 10 years. Other job roles she has undertaken whilst doing this include mail sorter, rail complaints taker and novelty wig washer. She enjoys writing bad poetry and listening to very loud music.

Alex Solo
Building and Events Co-ordinator

Alex joined Free Word in October 2015, coming from a rather diverse employment background. Alex has worked as a scenic artist and crew at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster, a self-employed decorator, as well as in customer service and hospitality. An English graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University, he is currently studying for his MA in ‘Issues in Modern Culture’ at UCL. He has put on live music events across both London and Manchester since 2008. In his spare time, Alex enjoys writing, dystopian/utopian narratives and reconnecting with his Greek culture.

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