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Virtual reality child carer training used by Hampshire County Council

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

County council staff are using headsets to receive 3D virtual reality training, putting them into simulated scenarios with vulnerable children, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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

A total of 48 staff members have been trained using the VR tech
A total of 48 staff members have been trained using the VR tech

Last year’s pilot of the scheme, run by VR company Antser, has been continued with fostering, youth offending teams, safeguarding teams and more.

Jack Slaymaker, HCC’s fostering post-approval training lead, has been impressed by the impact.

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."

A total of 48 staff members have been trained using the VR technology.

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

Chief executive Richard Dooner said: "We are delighted that this partnership... 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 helps organisations across both the public and private sector in situations such as child exploitation, domestic violence and knife crime.

The company has more than 30 years of experience and has previously worked with the Metropolitan Police and Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, with 300 training courses delivered every year.

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