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Campaign tackles ‘Elephant in the Room’ of sexual abuse and sexual violence

Student volunteers showed their support for Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service (PARCS) today (10 February) as part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week (6 to 10 February).

Members of PARCS brought a large inflatable “Elephant In The Room” to Purple Door join the students in raising awareness of the campaign, which this year has the message #itsnotok. Students currently volunteering for the PARCS Mentor Project have also been asking their local communities how they can take responsibility for preventing sexual abuse. This forms part of the PARCS #PlayYourPart film campaign, showing in Purple Door today, which calls for bystanders in Portsmouth to #PlayYourPart in preventing sexual abuse.

Currently 15 students volunteer for PARCS in one of either two roles – on their telephone helpline or their prevention work in local secondary schools and colleges.

Student volunteers Emily Hawkins, Ellie Palmer, Kira Budhoo with Rachel Banks, Information and Employment Advisor for Volunteering (front left) Jane Howe (second left) and Gemma Green (far right).

Student volunteers with Rachel Banks, Information and Employment Advisor for Volunteering (front left) Jane Howe (second left) and Gemma Green (far right).

PARCS provides accessible and free counselling and support for children aged five years and over, young people and adults who live in Portsmouth and have experienced rape, childhood sexual abuse or other forms of sexual violation at any time in their lives. PARCS also provides a service to adults in Gosport, Fareham and Havant.

The PARCS prevention team visit various schools, colleges and youth organisations around Portsmouth.

Jane Howe, Volunteer Coordinator at the University of Portsmouth, said: “We are very proud of the voluntary work our students undertake with PARCS. One of the strategic aims of our current education strategy is to ensure all of our students undertake career enhancing activities by the year 2020. We want our graduates to be able to offer employers not only impressive academic achievement, but also a broad skill set and the confidence that can be gained through extra-curricular activities; volunteering gives them the opportunity to gain both. PARCS provides excellent training and support to our students and we hope that the partnership will continue for many years. Our students thoroughly enjoy giving something back to the city they have chosen to study in.”

Gemma Green from PARCS said: “PARCS is passionate about working with the local Portsmouth communities, including the University of Portsmouth. Our volunteer Mentor Project and Helpline Service provide students with the opportunity to develop extra skills, self -awareness and the space to develop their understanding of sexual and domestic abuse and the root causes. PARCS values the contribution volunteers bring to the organisation and is delighted to be working alongside Purple Door and the University of Portsmouth.”

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