A woman with glasses has brown hair and is looking away from the camera. There is a brick wall behind her. She is white and wears a gold necklace.

Jill Penny – Hostel Manager

Jill manages the IOU Hebden Bridge Hostel. She is responsible for the day to day running of the Hostel, and moving the creative vision for the hostel forwards.

How long have you been with IOU and what has been your highlight?

I took the job of IOU Hebden Bridge Hostel Manager in February 2022. Working with a fantastic team of people we remodelled, redecorated and re imagined the whole hostel experience as a an inclusive space for everyone, travellers, visitors to the Calder Valley, and creatives, all welcome. My highlight has been seeing the hostel come to life, and begin to fulfil its potential as a welcoming and vibrant space, going from strength to strength and justifying our belief in the project.’

Tell us about your professional journey before joining IOU?

I left my position as Deputy Director at Arvon Lumb Bank, The Ted Hughes Writing Centre in Heptonstall, to take on my current role with IOU after twelve years. Prior to that I worked as a freelance arts practitioner and performer. I have followed IOU since moving to the area in 1987 and made sure my family and I attended all their events happening in and around Calderdale. 

Recently I completed an M.A. in Creative Writing at Manchester Met and won The Poetry Business International Book and Pamphlet Prize in 2020. I have recently returned to performing on the poetry circuit and plan to continue my writing journey.’


Tell us about any stand out productions or exhibits you’ve experienced that left their mark on you?

‘IOU exhibitions Cure, Waylaid, Rear View, and Landscapes of Exploration. All left a significant mark on me. My daughter, at age eight was both horrified and fascinated by the images in Waylaid. Cure was the show that made me want to work with IOU and Rear View was moving in ways I found difficult to explain. The feeling of leaving things behind? Landscapes of Exploration especially resonated with me after a journey undertaken up beyond the Arctic Circle to Askalompolo in Finland. 

The most moving immersive exhibitions I have seen in recent years were David Bowie is. Barcelona 2017. Basquiat Paris 2019. Paula Rego Tate Britain 2021. I also visited The Horniman recently to satisfy my obsession with taxidermy. The least said about that the better.’


You can contact Jill about staying in the Hostel via email: manager@ioutheatre.org