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Virtual reality headsets are being used by the West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership in schools and communities across the region to help reduce violence.

The headsets play an eight to ten-minute video on gangs or knife crime. The pupils participating navigate through different scenarios and their choices affect the outcome.

The workshops, using state-of-the-art technology, encourage conversations about the video, helping children and young people to build empathy, resolve conflict, make good decisions and learn how to minimise risk.

The sessions are delivered by the West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership in small groups to children aged 10 to 14, alongside curriculums about violence reduction and knife crime, to continue the conversation after the workshops have been delivered, leading to children and young people sharing their personal experiences

The videos have been developed by Round Midnight, an award-winning creative arts company tackling knife crime and gang culture. Since September 2022, the workshops have been delivered to 4165 children and 358 professionals.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “Virtual reality is a brilliant and unique way to communicate with our young people.

“These workshops put the participant in the shoes of someone who is involved in or witnessing violence. It allows them to see the direct consequences of their choices and how to avoid risk in their own lives.

“This is all part of the essential work we are delivering in schools, to prevent, tackle and reduce violence, protect young people and save lives.”

Sami Cornick, Development Manager from Round Midnight said: “We are delighted to partner with West Midlands VRP. Our VR films have a significant impact on the young people we reach, and we are thrilled to see the VRP team utilise our programmes so effectively. The VR films are exciting and engaging, and when paired with the comprehensive learning materials, they can make a lasting difference.”

The project will run until April 2025.

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