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.



Free Word Centre is home to a vibrant community of resident organisations whose work spans literature, literacy and free expression; from campaigning to creative writing. Many of our residents regularly host events here, and collaborate as project partners with Free Word and each other. Discover more about our residents and their work below.

Apples and Snakes

Apples and Snakes is England's leading organisation for performance poetry and spoken word. It runs over 90 performance poetry events and over 670 educational workshops every year, and provides top quality training and artist development opportunities for both new and established poets. Established in 1982, Apples and Snakes has worked with a dazzling array of poets, from Phill Jupitus and Lemn Sissay to Zena Edwards and Polarbear. Based in South London, it has established a network of Programme Coordinators in six regions of England.


ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.


Arvon runs residential creative writing courses which aim to challenge, inspire and transform. Founded in 1968, Arvon today has a leading position in the world of creative writing. With residential centres in Devon, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Inverness-shire, its previous tutors have included Willy Russell, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Ian McEwan. As well as the Arvon International Poetry Competition, Arvon runs courses for under-18s, and fundraises to ensure that those people who cannot afford the full course fee can attend.

English PEN

English PEN is the founding centre of PEN International, a membership association which promotes the freedom to write and the freedom to read.

PEN has 144 branches in more than 100 countries, providing an active and supportive community for writers and readers around the world. Through its Writers in Prison programme, English PEN works to defend persecuted and imprisoned writers around the world. The Writers in Public programme organises events ranging from discussions and debates to talks and seminars, many of which are held at the Free Word Centre. The Readers and Writers programme promotes literacy and literature among socially excluded children, young people and adults, and the Writers in Translation programme supports literary translation in the UK.

The Literary Consultancy

The Literary Consultancy is the UK's leading manuscript assessment and editorial advice service. Founded in 1996 by Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, it provides expert, market-aware editorial appraisals to writers at all levels writing in English, and runs the unique 'Chapter & Verse' mentoring scheme.

As well as its core activity of manuscript assessment and mentoring, TLC runs a busy programme of literary events, writing workshops and holidays, and manages The Free Read Scheme with support from Arts Council England.

The Reading Agency

The Reading Agency helps children, young people and adults across the UK feel inspired and confident about reading. It champions reading with children in their formative years, works with young people who find it difficult to develop reading skills and with adults who find reading a challenge. The Reading Agency works with libraries and local authorities across the UK, runs high profile national initiatives such as the Summer Reading Challenge, and also reaches readers through broadcasters, publishers, workplaces, schools, prisons and youth services.

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