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.

If you are impacted by this campaign and you want to talk to the PARCS team or access support you can contact us on 023 9266 9513, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you are a young woman aged 16+ from Portsmouth and you want to find out more about project catalyst email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Together we can #shrinktheelephant

Competition Terms and Conditions

  1. This competition is open to residents in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire aged 18 years and under.
  2. All children and young people aged 16 years and under must have parental/guardian permission.
  3. All information detailing how to enter this competition forms part of these terms and conditions. Submission of an entry will be taken to mean acceptance of these terms and conditions.
  4. There are two entry routes to this competition as follows: by tagging @shrinktheelephant on Instagram and using #ShrinkTheElephant or via DM OF hi-res image on Instagram using @shrinktheelephant to request the image be anonymised when re-posted.
  5. Copyright in all images submitted for this competition remain with the entrants.
  6. There is no limit to entries.
  7. The winning entry will be judged and decided on 30th November 2020 by the PARCS Catalyst Consultant group.
  8. One entrant shall win a £50 Amazon voucher and a Strong Island t-shirt.
  9. The deadline for all entries tagged or received via DM is 31st October 2020.