Our out of the box programme is an exciting and dynamic approach to thinking creatively about the work we do in supporting families and protecting children.

We have brought together a miscellanea of drama, poetry, art and dance to challenge and inspire.

Here’s a selection of what will be on offer through the Congress:


Clare Shaw, Poet in Residence

Clare Shaw,
Poet in Residence

Described by the Arvon Foundation as “one of the country’s most dynamic young poets”, Clare Shaw has two collections from Bloodaxe: Straight Ahead (2006), which attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem; and Head On (2012), which is, according to the Times Literary Supplement: “fierce … memorable and visceral”. Clare was born in Burnley in 1972, and her poetry finds its roots in place and an uncompromising voice. Often addressing political and personal conflict, it is fuelled by a strong conviction in the transformative and redemptive power of language.


Clare is a Royal Literary Fellow at Huddersfield University, and a regular tutor for the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust, The National Writer’s Centre for Wales, and the Arvon Foundation. She also works as a mental health trainer, researcher and consultant, and has published widely in the field, including: “Otis Doesn’t Scratch (PCCS 2015), an illustrated guide for young people struggling with self-injury; and “Our Encounters with Self-injury” (2013), an edited collection first-hand experiences.




Clare is writing a poem for each month in the run up to Congress, and will be present throughout the congress itself, adding her own unique perspectives on the proceedings.

You can read all Clare’s poems here



Harry Venning, Artist in Residence

Harry Venning, Artist in Residence

Harry Venning is an award winning cartoonist, comedy writer and performer based in Brighton.

The current UK Art Trust Strip Cartoonist Of The Year, Harry’s cartoons have appeared in publications as diverse as Mathematics Today, The Radio Times, Music Teacher and The Stage. For twenty one years he has provided The Guardian with the weekly strip cartoon Clare In The Community, based upon the misadventures of an empathy free social worker. In 2004 he developed Clare In The Community into a successful BBC Radio 4 sitcom starring Sally Philipps, which has recently been recommissioned for a twelfth series.

When not at a desk writing or drawing, Harry tours his cartoon workshop Release Your Inner Cartoonist around schools, theatres, arts centres and festivals.

He also works as a graphic visualizer, providing live cartoons to illustrate talks and speeches at conferences, festivals and team building events.

He has a wife called Geri, a daughter called Minnie, a cat called Petal and a bald patch.

AND – a whizzy new website:



Dysfunctional Macbeth
Shakespeare’s Lost Children



Motionhouse Dance Company

Motionhouse, Broken
Photo by Dan Tucker

Motionhouse is a leading UK dance company that creates awe-inspiring ‘4D’ spectacles where music, visuals, dance and physical theatre integrate to form a seamless immersive experience. The company’s distinctive style takes movement to its limits, integrating elements of circus and acrobatics with contact choreography and breath-taking dance. Motionhouse prides itself on producing shows of outstanding quality that are exciting, accessible and enjoyable for all. Alongside our touring, we continue to work in schools throughout the UK and support young dancers through the classes we deliver at our Studio in Leamington Spa.

The innovative approach taken by Motionhouse and their engagement and work with young people ties in well with the overall theme of the congress, and adds a distinctive element to the programme which will enhance the experience of all delegates as well as providing challenging and inspiring food for thought.

During the Congress Motionhouse will be performing its thought-provoking ‘Captive’; its youth team will perform some short dances during our welcome reception on Sunday. Alongside these performances, the Motionhouse team will be running workshops using dance as a medium for exploring issues such as safe touch and trust, and working with vulnerable young people, including those in custodial settings.


Click here to see a trailer of Captive



How the light gets in – an interfaith event at Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral

Child abuse and neglect – a living reality for countless children across the world, and an ever-present scar on those who have been affected, our neighbourhoods and communities. A world of dilemma and uncertainty for all those working to protect children and support families. So often a vista of darkness, suffering and pain, failure and blame. But could there be a different narrative alongside this reality? What about the resilience and courage of survivors, the passionate commitment of those struggling to respond, the heartfelt compassion of those offering healing and hope?

On Tuesday evening we will be holding an interfaith event at Coventry Cathedral. In the incredible setting of the ruins of the old Cathedral, destroyed by bombs during the second world war, and the new Cathedral, with its international centre for peace and reconciliation, rising phoenix-like out of the rubble, we will use poetry, music, candles and readings to give expression to both the brokenness and hope of safeguarding children. Open to all – of every faith and none, survivors, practitioners, volunteers, parents.


Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

  • Leonard Cohen, Anthem


Playbox Theatre Company: Shakespeare’s Lost Children

As we explore the plays we discover the plight of Children is very much in Shakespeare’s heart as a dramatist.His own family life,his children.the loss of his son Hamnet and his belief in the future surrounds the work.

Through our Shakespeare Young Company we present an interactive journey where guests can walk through and encounter the ‘lost’children in scenes from the plays staged in promenade both joyous and reflective.Conference members may meet Miranda, Ophelia, Mamillius, Perdita, Laertes, Hamlet, Rosalind, the Pericles’ inheritence and many others in an entertaining and provoking 40 minute performance.


Shakespeare’s Children remain powerful presences today as the emotions,dilemmas,responsibilities and bond between parents and children is brought into sharp focus.