Restoration Through Creativity


Creativity can help to express emotions and enable individuals to process what they are feeling. In October 2021, we launched our Restore Project, a multi-faceted creativity project for healthcare workers.

Restore Project

Doctors in Distress is forming an exciting collaboration with The Bigger Picture and NHS Practitioner Health to launch the Restore Project, a space for all healthcare workers to find creativity, contemplation and connection through different creative spaces.

The project will consist of four dedicated creative spaces, The Write Space, The Seen Space, The Heard Space and The Still Space and will run from 2021-2022.


The Write Space

The Write Space launched in October 2021 with an exciting webinar featuring author Michael Rosen and Dr Rachel Clarke in conversation with former MP and Doctors in Distress Trustee, Anna Soubry, speaking about how expressive writing has helped them heal through various challenging life events. They were joined by Doctors in Distress Chair, Dame Clare Gerada and Dr Katie Amiel from The Bigger Picture. Watch the webinar here.

To follow, in November 2021 we hosted expressive writing groups for healthcare workers in partnership with the Royal Literary Fund. These groups were phenomenally received and we are thrilled to be running a second course of groups this February. Find more information and sign up here.

The Seen Space

The Seen Space took the form of a photography exhibition in partnership with The Royal Photographic Society at the NHS Practitioner Health, The Wounded Healer Conference on the 17th -18th March 2022 at the Royal College of GPs.

We called for any healthcare worker to submit a photograph that represented where they found their peace during the pandemic. The top photos (selected by an expert panel) were displayed at the conference. Please see all submissions below.

Dr Lynn Dailey, GP

‘A reminder of how beautiful the world is and how small we are..’

Dr Maureen Birch, GP

‘A cross country skiing trail at Ruka in Finnish Lapland at dusk – my pandemic screen saver. This is my ‘go to’ place for a beautiful, peaceful landscape with the snow crystals glistening in the ebbing sunlight & the gentle meditative rhythm of gliding skis – a million miles away from the worries of the World.’

Elspeth Long, Health Care Assistant

‘This is Kit! Kitty is our little lockdown friend, a vixen cub from a previous litter, she remained a constant amongst the uncertainty of the pandemic. It was reassuring to see nature continuing its business as normal. She still visits.’

Elspeth Long, Health Care Assistant

‘Walk on Studland while you still can”- Bill. Bill was admitted to the ward and was with us over the festive period of 2020. Unfortunately, Bill caught Covid whilst on the ward and sadly died. Bill was local to Dorset and was always keen to share his stories with us. The first thing I recall him telling me was to walk on Studland beach while I still could as he no longer was able. When lockdown restrictions started to lift, my grandad, mum and I got up early and walked along Studland. Bill was not far from my thoughts.’

Elspeth Long, Health Care Assistant

‘This Too Shall Pass. The seasons will change and return again, the waves will keep hitting the shore. We are always surrounded by beauty, sometimes you just need to look up.’

Elspeth Long, Health Care Assistant

‘An expanse unchanged, beyond time and made me realise how small and temporary life is.’

Esther Serrano, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Gasadalur & Mulafossur

‘This image was processed during lock down. It represents darkness and hope’

Esther Serrano, Consultant Clinical Psychologist


‘We had very clear skies during the first lockdown. This image represent how we pollute our skies using the wrong street lighting.’

Esther Serrano, Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Sharing Habitat

‘I took this image in my first photographing outing during the pandemic. It is about sharing and accommodating to others’ needs. In the city, humans and wildlife share the habitat.’

Helen Robertson, Sister Intensive Care

‘I walked through these woods a lot with my dog for company. As a sister in Intensive Care, I was very grateful to be able to have some quiet time.’

Johannah Churchill, Registered Nurse

‘It was friendships that helped me find peace during the pandemic’

Dr Jon Williamson, Anaesthetics

‘Dahlia’ – Amongst documenting the pandemic at work, I made a conscious effort to discover and appreciate beauty in things close to me, accessible around the home or short walks away. I slowed the shutter to take an image of this dahlia, bringing a softness and calm.


Instagram: @drjdwilliamson


Dr Jon Williamson, Anaesthetics

Dark Corridors’ – At the end of a busy shift in the second wave of Covid, I pictured my colleague Thom coming back into the anaesthetic department for handover. Illuminated by a ceiling light in a dark corridor. Finding interesting (or even usable!) light in the hospital for my photo-documentary was a good creative challenge amongst the emotionally and physically challenging times.



Instagram: @drjdwilliamson

Dr Jon Williamson, Anaesthetics

‘Hands Together’ – This image shows our ICU team proning a patient, and the huge physical effort that goes into this. It also illustrated more than ever to me about unity, teams and coming together in times of hardship. The focus of the image is on all these different hands working in unison.



Instagram: @drjdwilliamson

Dr Jon Williamson, Anaesthetics

’New Life’ –  I was struck by the parallels going on in the same hospital; on one side of the hospital Covid was raging, whilst on the other new life was determined to enter into this world. I learnt to re-appreciate the beauty of life being brought into the world, amongst the sometimes chaotic experiences one can have working on labour ward. An ICU nurse I had worked with in the pandemic gave birth in our hospital, these are images taken from my Birth during Covid series of her elective c-section.



Instagram: @drjdwilliamson

Kelly Webb, ODP

‘Fresh air & sunshine in the garden with my little family, the complete opposite of my time working as part of the Covid ITU team.’

Lindsay Ward, Emergency Care Assistant, Ambulance Service

‘Kayaking on the river Cam, where I found peace and tranquillity as all my worries of the pandemic floated away for those minutes, I was there.’

Dr Mariam Walker, GP Whitley Bay

‘Taken on Whitley Bay seafront where I would take myself each morning before work to watch the sunrise. I reminded myself that ‘even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise’.

Marie Lyons, ENT Surgeon and Divisional Medical Director

‘I posted this at Easter 2020- things were bad then really bad.
I posted with the caption – “at the end of the night, the sun always rises and nature is still beautiful”
This picture is taken in the woods near my house – the birds were louder and the colours brighter in the midst of all the fear.’

Naomi Preston, ST6 Paediatrics

‘During the pandemic we found beautiful places on our doorstep that we had always been too busy to visit before. My kids and I found peace in the beautiful botanical gardens at Fletcher Moss, and as Spring came and brought hope of light at the end of the tunnel, these crocuses seemed to reflect our feelings.’


Instagram: @todidsburyandbeyond


Naomi Preston, ST6 Paediatrics

‘Simple pleasures and getting lost in the innocence of childhood, like playing pooh sticks in the park. In these moments I briefly forgot the chaos of the pandemic and it was bliss.’


Instagram: @todidsburyandbeyond

Naomi Preston, ST6 Paediatrics

‘In the height of the pandemic I was on maternity leave with my 3rd child. Through the chaos of home schooling a 6 year old and potty training a 3 year old, I found peace in the rare quiet moments spent with my new baby.’


Instagram: @todidsburyandbeyond

Dr Nikki Williams, GP

‘Here we fed the ducks, time and time again. And for that time the weight of the pandemic and the restrictions were muted by the sounds of my giggling brood and the chatter of the ducks.’

Sam Anthony, Associate Specialist in Dermatology

‘When the world was in chaos and pandemic strife, 
The natural world still got on with its life. 
And there I took comfort in its warm embrace, 
Moments found to step out from the burdens we faced.
The fears were well hidden, the wounds were concealed, 
The armour so strong had to go to be healed.
But there was always the sunshine that came through the cracks, 
And helped keep the gaze forwards, no need to turn back. 
I looked for hope on the horizon, sought emotional release, 
I paused… I breathed… and right there I found peace.’ 

Sarah Ellison-Davis, Specialist Physiotherapist, Emergency Department

‘A photo from last year, actually taken on my birthday, when on a rare and much needed break form work.
This photo has everything that is a polar opposite to being in a hospital on shift-there is light, brightness and the feeling of fresh air and freedom. It is a scene that brings calmness and peace when I look at it.’

Dr Shonag Mackenize, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

‘I found being outside when allowed and exercise really helped keep me resilient. This photo is taken from my kayak of 2 of my family (part of my bubble) in their kayak on our first ever trip out in the kayaks during sunset.’

Steve Whittaker IP Optometrist

‘My daily commute was a gloriously empty and cathartic 30 minute cycle along the coastal path linking Arbroath and Carnoustie, and my photo reflects my feelings of that view as I sped along the path, watching the beach and sea whiz past, and the seaweed smell filled my nose and lungs with Nature, clearing away the stress of the day.’

Dr Ternjit Jhooti, GP

‘My peace was sunrise. The calm before the storm.’

Viv Harte, Psychotherapist and Group Analyst

‘Mist at dawn over Moray – a sense of peace away from NHS Highland.’

Viv Harte, Psychotherapist and Group Analyst

‘Drizzle over Plockton dampens the fire of my stress at NHS Highland.’

Francoise Wynn, GP

‘Turf Hill, the special place I’m blessed to have almost on my doorstep in the New Forest . After many weeks at home “shielding “, my brain in turmoil and conflicted with guilt that I was only able to work remotely and anxiety, here I found some peace and joy on my sunset walks.’

Emma Diette, Intensive Care Nurse

‘I became a patient myself being sectioned under a Section 2 of the Mental Health Act and diagnosed with Complex Trauma PTSD.
Embroidery brought me great solitude, whilst realising the natural world is our greatest teacher.’

Kate Murphy – Morris, Mental Health Nurse Independent Prescriber

‘This is a photo of grandad meeting grandson taken at the start of the first wave, it captures both the fear we felt at being less than 2 meters apart even in a garden, pre vaccination and with the elderly death toll rising, and our need to be together. The photo also captures their delight at being close together after separation with the boy’s face reflected in the glass door along with the grandad’s carefully tended blooming garden, the glass enabled them to be close to each other again, but safe. Knowing that they were together and safe brought me a lot of peace (of mind!).’

The Heard Space

Doctors in Distress was delighted to showcase an original play, written by award-winning playwright, Brian Daniels, at the 2022 The Wounded Healer Conference to create The Heard Space part of the project. Doctors in Distress along with Brian hope to tour the play around the UK throughout 2022/2023, with proceeds going towards Doctors in Distress.

‘It’s not just doctors who are in distress but particularly during the pandemic, all of those engaged in professional healthcare have endured the sharp end of professional and personal pressure. Where can they go for emotional support? A new play, inspired by Dame Clare Gerada’s book, ‘Beneath the White Coat’ will be an opportunity to explore, through a new piece of drama, the personal stories and journeys of a group of healthcare professionals as they struggle to keep their personal and professional lives on course.’

Cast List:

SOPHIE ~ Sophie Turner

GEOFF ~ Brian Daniels

LOTTIE ~ Liz Hume

BARBARA ~ Martina McClements

GERALDINE ~ Martina McClements

SAM ~ Marie Fortune

JACK ~ Jack Flammiger

PRIYA ~ Ulrika Krishnamurti