Healing Justice Ldn (HJL) builds community-led health and healing to create capacity for personal and structural transformation. We work on a community, structural and movement level to repair and build the conditions for health and healing justice that dignify and support all of us to be well. Using a multi-layered multi-systems approach and cultural strategy, we work to disarm the cycles of harm, ill-health and chronic unsustainability that oppression reproduces in our communities and social justice movements. We nurture cultures towards futures free from intimate, interpersonal and structural violence.
HJL began as a collaboration by women of colour living in London. It builds on years of youth, community and survivor work, aiming to restore agency to communities to imagine and organise towards liberation. At HJL, we continue to lead from communities that are marginalised, to shape and determine our own health and well-being provisions and build radical alternative public health approaches.
Our work and areas of strategic innovation
what is ‘healing justice’?
We were introduced to ‘healing justice’ at the INCITE! Colour of Violence Conference and by peers at the Allied Media Conference. They describe healing justice as “an evolving political framework that … seeks to transform, intervene and respond to generational trauma and violence in our movements, communities and lives — and to regenerate our traditions of liberatory and resiliency practices that have been lost or stolen.” Cara Page, one of the architects of the Healing Justice framework, traces its origins to the visionary work of many in the US south, “deeply rooted in Black feminist traditions and southern Black radical traditions of the global south”.
The healing justice framework gave language to the work we were already doing but not inventing. Here in the UK, Healing Justice Ldn is part of a legacy and continuum of movements and initiatives building capacity for and with marginalised people. Our work is inspired and built alongside other community led efforts, such as Voices That Shake! and Imkaan.
Within the framework of healing justice, our work is informed by six key approaches
A disability justice approach centres the wisdom of disabled people. It holds all bodies as being inherently worthy, challenging capitalist notions of productivity-as-validity and other oppressive assumptions of who is deemed valuable. In our work, we recognise that ideas of collective care have been shaped by long standing practices amongst disabled people. Disability justice brings care to the forefront of our movements, as it connects our struggles towards a world where no one is left behind.
A trauma-informed approach holds the whole person, taking into account past and ongoing experiences of trauma and marginalisation, and how these might shape our current realities, behaviours, attitudes and ways of being. We create healing spaces by ensuring that we follow the principles of trauma-informed care: safety, collaboration, consent, choice, peer support, and empowerment.
Somatic approaches challenge the idea that the body and mind are separate, holding the whole body as the centre of our lived experience. Body-oriented practices can help to achieve both internal and collective transformation, by shifting and releasing habits, behaviours, and perceptions of the world that are no longer in alignment with our wellbeing. We use somatic practices throughout our work, ensuring our sessions are always holistic and include embodiment and breath work.
Creative and arts based approaches draw on a broad range of practices, from writing, painting, film-making, zine-making, poetry and many more. We use creative methodologies to make our work accessible to a broad range of people with different skills and ways of thinking, with the belief that creativity is a necessary tool for our individual and collective liberation.
We know that our struggles for social change have always been led by people with lived experience of oppression. Our work centres and is led by people of colour, connecting the multiple and intersecting oppressions we face. This ensures that our work is community-driven and provides culturally responsive programmes. Our aim is to support the agency of communities to self-direct our needs, and build our resilience to organise towards them.
Abolition as an approach to social transformation and liberation supports the dismantling of harmful systems and institutions while encouraging all of us to work to build alternative infrastructures towards care, safety, accountability, health rooted in community, dignity and justice. Public structures such as police, prisons, psychiatry, housing, education and other institutions often reproduce state violence which deepen forms of injustices and trauma in and on our communities. Often, these spaces criminalise and punish the very distress they cause, contribute to sickness and lead to premature deaths. To ensure real safety, wellness and health especially for those who are most marginalised, we need to vision and build through experimentation and co-creation of radical alternatives infrastructures and ‘life affirming institutions’. This includes a total reimagining of our social structures and provisions by first generating the capacity and conditions for us to do that. At HJL, we look at how we contribute to this vision with a focus on community-led health, connecting our efforts with justice struggles for housing, food, education, and other things we need to live safe, dignified and healthy lives.
Our values guide our work and processes, to keep us anchored in our vision and accountable to ourselves and the communities that we support.
Healing Justice Ldn foregrounds heart-led and embodied approaches, turning away from systems of oppression that fragment and disconnect us from our bodies and communities. We are lived-experience led — honouring our ongoing survivorhood, and the intuition and wisdom drawn from our experiences. We understand our spiritual, cultural and indigenous traditions to be valid sites of knowledge that move us towards our wholeness.
We acknowledge that every event is experienced differently by each one of us. We are in a constant state of collaborative learning, acknowledging that we may not always know, and we need wisdom from others. We stay in alignment with our values and priorities, and as they adapt, our approaches adapt to meet them. We strengthen ourselves by becoming skilled and resilient in our journey towards collective liberation.
We move from positions of trust to build cultures of accountability that keep us brave, true, and caring. We honour the vulnerability and courage it takes to do this, practising compassion for what we are surviving, and knowing that change and transformation are possible.
We use the powers of radical dreaming, imagination and visioning to realise well-resourced communities that are generative, equitable and thrive beyond us.