We are Project Catalyst, a new PARCS initiative which began earlier this year. PARCS is a community-based charity working with all ages and genders across Portsmouth and South East Hampshire to reduce the impact of sexual violence and domestic/sexual abuse. In addition to providing specialist support and counselling services to survivors, PARCS Outreach and Education Team endeavours to support young people, parents, and teachers by raising awareness of issues surrounding sexual abuse and challenging cultural norms that perpetuate abuse.
Project Catalyst’s purpose is to support and empower local young women to become leaders in the reduction of violence and abuse against women and girls. We are a consultant group of young women, aged 16+ with a range of experience of volunteering and activism in the field of sexual violence. We have been working as a team and with other activists in the field, exploring and consulting on key issues and concerns. We will be co-producing and running a series of campaigns to bring about change in relation to these issues and will also work with young survivors and young women who are disadvantaged.
The PARCS “Elephant in the Room” campaign has been in development since 2016. Sexual abuse can sometimes feel like the elephant in the room, and PARCS believes we all have the power to shrink the elephant. You may have seen our 10-foot tall inflatable elephant at events around the city.
Lockdown and COVID created unique challenges, with huge increases in the numbers of calls made to domestic abuse helplines and police services. During this time PARCS released images of the elephant at home to highlight the fact that home is not necessarily safe for survivors of sexual abuse, no matter how long ago the abuse. Many survivors of sexual abuse live with the trauma of the abuse they were subjected to and our campaign wanted to raise consciousness of the elephant and the impact of trauma. We then developed this by capturing photographs of the Elephant out and around Portsmouth.
Activism through Photography project - finishes 30th November 2020
The next chapter of the campaign, #ShrinkTheElephant, designed and launched by Project Catalyst, is to raise awareness in our Portsmouth community through photography. We are working with and asking many local artists and photographers to take their own photographs of (smaller) elephants around Portsmouth to be showcased at a local exhibition. We have also created a photography competition for young people aged under 18 who may want to get involved and have their work featured in the exhibition. We have been supported to set this up by Strong Island and we really appreciate the response from the local artistic community. This has now closed.
Together we all have the power to #shrinktheelephant