Youth Connection Campaign

Penal Reform Solutions is an organisation

that promotes relationships and connection

to reduce social harm.  We are Hampshire-based,

with roots in Portsmouth. 

As a response to COVID-19, Penal Reform

Solutions has created the Connection Campaign

to provide people with an opportunity to connect,

cope and grow during isolation.  The Connection

Campaign is designed to bring people together

through a variety of projects that focus on

personal growth and create a platform to

connect socially and emotionally, during


The Youth Connection Campaign focuses on

youths during lockdown to finds ways to connect

and grow during the pandemic and to recover

and grow post pandemic. Post Traumatic Growth

literature highlights that during unexpected difficulties, new learning and insight can be encouraged, which encourage personal growth and avoid social harm.  COVID-19 can bring with it loss, uncertainty and a lost sense of self-identity and purpose.  Creating ways in which young people can reflect on this time and grow as a result of it, the project aims to nurture mental wellbeing, explore what the ‘new normal’ looks like for them and their school and cultivate a greater understanding of life and the possibilities of it. 

Connection Campaigns have already taken place in prison, with the community and now turn to young people, acknowledging that young people are one of the largest groups that experience a sense of loneliness, alongside the elderly.  The Youth Connection project uses the medium of photography to capture the meaning of personal growth, freedom and connection for young people while in lockdown.  The task would be simple and easy to achieve, in order to reach and include all corners of the City. 

Project Outline:

Each school in Portsmouth would be encouraged to set their pupils and staff a task to capture, in one photo, something that represents personal growth to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each participant is required to align a short caption to their photograph, giving some explanation as to why they have chosen their image.  This could be a task set for Art, IT, Photography or any other relevant topic the school decides, with all accompanying instructions provided by PRS.  The photos and captions can be uploaded, with the school’s hashtag and #connection campaign on Instagram or Twitter.  Penal Reform Solutions will collate, examine and analyse them as a collective portfolio, using thematic analysis to draw out key concepts/ themes.  Minimal leadership involvement is required as the project runs remotely as is managed through PRS.

The images, along with each accompanying caption, will be displayed either virtually or physically, as an art exhibition (similar to virtual museum tours) post-lockdown. These can be per school or collective, bringing Portsmouth school communities together to present common themes that emerge, celebrate personal growth, creativity and resilience during adversity, explore what learning can help us to recover to the ‘new normal’ and use reflective methods to encourage post-traumatic growth in pupils and teachers alike.  Each exhibition will require attendees to purchase tickets for a minimal cost, with all profits generated being donated to local domestic abuse charities.

Tiered Outcomes:

Pupils/ Staff – The project aims to highlight personal skill sets pupils and staff have applied during the pandemic that have promoted growth.  As a strengths-based process, pupils and staff will illuminate the skills they have built on or drawn upon to cope and illuminate how they may have connected with others.  They will be encouraged to use their creativity, reflection techniques and a growth mindset to complete the project.

School – Each school will be presented with an e-photo essay, which will collectively capture the key images and captions within each of the themes identified to have promoted personal growth across the school.  At an organisational level, e-photo essays can be used as an innovative promotional tool by the school, both to celebrate post-traumatic growth, resilience and recovery, inclusion and to promote the school as one that adopts a ‘whole child’ philosophy. 

Community – Identifying key themes/ principles across all participating schools, we are able to provide a coordinated picture of what personal skills our school communities across Portsmouth have drawn on to cope, recover and grow.  With this, a set of shared principles of personal growth can inform strategic recovery planning to ensure the process is evidence-based and relevant to the needs of staff and pupils across Portsmouth.  In addition, illuminating key strengths and skills our school communities have cultivated in order to collectively heal can be used to celebrate the resilience and grit that defines Portsmouth and its residents.

With a dedicated coordinator for each school, and a cognitive behavioural professional  at hand, we will 

  • Create all preparatory materials for the project, outlining the projects, ethical practice (including pupil and parental consent forms where required, though non-identifiable images will be encouraged), the task and the rationale.  All information can be directly forwarded or uploaded to pupils, with podcasts, examples and videos to engage them in the task ahead. 

  • Provide a text message support service to answer queries etc.

  • Collate all images, sending updates to the pupils highlighting some of the images to promote engagement.  

  • Collate all statements from the photo-essays and carry out a thematic analysis. 

  • Prepare the photo-essays for each school, and across all schools, to highlight specific insights and collective insights. 

  • Organise and source venues for the exhibition across the City. 

  • Create and online event.

  • Host and produce a virtual (or physical event) for the community, to celebrate the pupils work and illuminate their messages around growth during difficult times. 


NB/ Profit from ticket sales for all exhibitions will go to local domestic abuse charities.

Whilst this project is focused on Portsmouth, we are happy to discuss any school interest, outside this area.  Please contact us here: 

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