VIRTUAL reality is helping foster carers to understand how young people experience trauma.

Hampshire County Council staff are receiving virtual reality training, putting them into 2D and 3D scenarios with vulnerable children.

It is hoped that this pioneering training method will help with understanding the impact trauma, child exploitation and trigger trio issues – domestic abuse, mental ill-health and substance misuse – can have on young people.

Last year’s pilot of the scheme, run by VR company Antser, has been continued on both the mainland and the Isle of Wight, with fostering, youth offending teams, safeguarding teams and more all receiving training.

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Jack Slaymaker, Hampshire County Council’s fostering post approval training lead, has been impressed by the impact this has had.

He said: “The Fostering Hampshire Children team has been using this training for around a year. The training places carers in a variety of scenarios, allowing them to feel and experience each of these from the child’s viewpoint.

“This is a very powerful experience for carers which helps to strengthen their understanding of children’s behaviour and how to develop strong attachments.

“Literally putting carers in the young person’s shoes allows them to connect with the situation and individual child’s experience and to feel it on a deeper level – reinforcing the child-centred approach that we advocate as a service.”

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To date, a total of 48 staff members have been trained using the VR technology.

Introducing the 2D and 3D films within the council’s in-house graduate trainee programme has proven to be overwhelmingly positive, according to Antser.

Chief executive officer Richard Dooner said: “We are delighted that this partnership with Hampshire County and Isle of Wight Council has been so successful and that our immersive VR has been such a driving force behind delivering better outcomes for the council and ultimately children and young people in the county.”

Antser VR now helps organisations across both the public and private sector in situations involving child exploitation, domestic violence, knife crime and more.

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