Hampshire County Council using virtual reality training to place foster carers into the heart of child abuse scenarios

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.

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The training sessions place carers into the middle of exploitation and abuse scenarios. Picture: Storyteller

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.

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 behavior 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.’

To date, 48 staff members have been trained using the technology.

Introducing the 2D and 3D films within the council’s in-house graduate trainee program has proven to be 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 organizations across both the public and private sector in situations involving child exploitation, domestic violence, knife crime and more.

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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