‘Connecting Realities’

Michele Copeman

Background to the Project

The Covid19 pandemic meant that people have been unable to physically participate in the events and activities that previously connected them socially, leading to new digital catalysts in which traditionally face-to-face services moved online to continue supporting their service-users.

This has led to a revolution of digital inclusivity. Individuals previously disconnected from technology have harnessed virtual platforms to connect with others and to access products and services.

There is the clear opportunity to make use of the newly established digital stage and awaiting audience-groups created through Digital Inclusion initiatives by improving virtual access to a wide range of community events and activities that continue to be difficult for many to access physically.

The Project

Connecting Realities uses VR technology as a tool to connect people to wellbeing experiences and community activities they would otherwise struggle to access, to reduce isolation and loneliness and improve health. This intervention—of digitally inclusive virtual experience creation—focusses on making high-quality virtual experiences and connecting them with those who can benefit from them by working in collaboration with digital inclusion platforms and healthcare and community-support practitioners.

The following types of virtual experiences will be explored to satisfy different needs:

  • Livestreams (such as our recent pilot livestreaming the Pembrokeshire County Show to Care Homes) can act as a sharing, reminiscence, and community connecting tool and to increase access to practical workshops, such as falls prevention exercise classes.
  • Immersive VR360 experiences can provide valuable refreshment and relief to a person who is occupationally deprived, and/or unable to physically access experiences.
  • Virtual tours and videos can be used to support an individual to safely assess routes or places as a precursor to participating physically. In this way, virtual experiences can support a restoration of mobility or confidence that may have been compromised through the lockdown.

Anticipated benefits

  • Improved access to wellbeing experiences and community activities
  • Reduce isolation and loneliness
  • Improved health