Safely Held

Safely Held, is a Cambridge-based collective of survivors and carers/supporters, using our long experience of arts activism and community dialogue to share and develop an understanding – re-imagining support for mental distress, through talking, learning and healing.

We and our loved ones and allies have received some helpful – and some harmful – support from mental health services and we encourage bottom-up building of resources for people in mental distress, their carers and supporters. We work in community settings to amplify voices and hospital services with service users and professionals, using arts to support confidence and competence in communication.

As activists with lived experience of mental health issues, we have used the arts for many years to empower others and support action for positive social change. During these practices, we have recognised the critical role of power, inequality, oppressions, and the importance of building confidence to address these. We are developing fresh practice in solidarity with people in crisis, whether as people of concern in our communities and their supporters, or as health staff under pressure. We understand that distress is best relieved through equal connection and linking with others to build that confidence and personal and shared power.

Safely Held: Talking, Learning, Healing is supported by a grant from the NSUN COVID-19 fund

Trigger warning – The Safely Held Art Work and Films explore issues that may be sensitive to some people including, reference to abuse, mental health difficulties and the sound of women screaming.


‘You were always the most difficult’ by Jill Eastland, from the Autobiography series.

To see more of this series and other work please click here.

‘You were always the most difficult’ by Jill Eastland


‘Movement Against Racism’ by Dr. Zeenath Ul Islam, Photographers for Humanity.

To see more of this series and other work please click here.

A person wearing a T-shirt with the text: When do I change from Cute to Scary

‘Movement Against Racism’ by Dr. Zeenath Ul Islam

‘About You’ by Yvette Wilkie, from the Drawing on Forms series.

To see more of this series and other work please click here.

A manual for a wheelchair

‘About You’ by Yvette Wilkie


Art activism supporting the Community campaign to protect St Matthew’s Piece by Jannie Brightman, Cathy Dunbar, Shane Batsta and Helen Judge:

Blank Page By Andy Little:

Cling film by Jane Hellings and Helen Judge:

Knitters Revenge with Six Bells Knitting group and Cathy Dunbar, Helen Judge:

Toxic Frock by Cathy Dunbar and Helen Judge:


To find out more about Safely Held by clicking on this link.