Press and Client targeted project updates and information.
The @virtualdecisions project press release will appear here soon.
Birmingham not for profit theatre company set to change the landscape of Tech in Education with new project.
Following on from successful VR in Education programme VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: GANGS
The company are set to research, develop and distribute a follow up VR film: VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: KNIVES.
Round Midnight – and their sister company, Round Midnight Creative Arts – have worked closely with West Midlands Police on several intervention projects in and around the Birmingham area. This close and constructive working relationship has led Round Midnight Creative Arts to propose a new VR film and follow-up programme to tackle high rates of knife crime in the Midlands.
West Midlands Police Serious & Organised Crime Prevent Interventions and the Home Office have awarded the project through the Guardian fund to reach young people across the West Midlands. Round Midnight Creative Arts will use the funding to develop and deliver a second interactive virtual reality film for schools. The film will open a dialogue around knife crime, disrupt youth violence, and ultimately, get knives off the streets.
In September 2018, in partnership with BAFTA award-winning production company BDH Immersive, Round Midnight created VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: GANGS. This early intervention virtual reality programme for young people explores gang culture, criminal exploitation and anti-social behaviour.
By wearing an Occulus VR headset, participants journey through a “choose your own path” real world film, where they can interact with true-to-life characters. This immersive experience challenges those taking part to make their own decisions actively. Those choices dictate how the film unfolds – highlighting the significance of even the most minor decision having real-life consequences – resulting in a deeply personal and unique experience for the participants.
Following the immersive 8-minute VR film, an interactive workshop run by expert facilitators then explores the issues raised in more depth. Through discussions and drama exercises, the young people can reflect on their journey within the VR film and compare it to others, making it a user-led – and user shared – experience.
Since its launch in April 2019, Round Midnight’s expert facilitators have delivered the VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: GANGS programme to over 1000 young people in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. The programme has also been supported and endorsed by:
- David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police Crime Commissioner
- West Midlands Police Violence Reduction Unit and Probation Service
- The Greater Manchester Magistrates Association
The Serious & Organised Crime Prevent Interventions funding and the Guardian Fund contribution will allow Round Midnight Creative Arts to develop a highly researched script; workshop the content within focus groups; produce the film with specialised technology for VR with a cast of talented young actors; finalise the films VR elements; trial the project; then finally, get the ground-breaking new educational package out into the community in the form of tried and tested workshops with highly skilled facilitators.
Round Midnight Creative Arts have extensively researched VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: KNIVES with Birmingham University’s Dr Stephanie Burnett-Heyes – lecturer and expert on adolescent brain development, mood, decision-making and social interaction. Round Midnight Creative Arts are passionate about doing work that speaks to the target audience in a way they can genuinely connect to. The project’s extensive research has led to Dr Burnett-Hayes input into the new script’s development. The authenticity of characters and the language used is vital in getting participants engaged.
Chief Inspector Lucas Cole and Chief Inspector Corrina Griffiths of West Midlands Police have also had input into the script to ensure police procedures and interactions with young people are authentic.
Set to film in April 2021 with a pilot run planned for the summer, VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: KNIVES will be in schools and the wider community by September 2021. The new film will continue the work of VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: GANGS and engage and encourage change within target groups; helping vulnerable and at-risk young people identify their options and giving a holistic approach to early intervention delivery.
When asked about VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: KNIVES Sami Cornick, Development Manager of Round Midnight said:
“VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: KNIVES will aim to unpick and examine the reasons why young people carry a weapon. For young people already carrying a knife, the aim will be to open debate, reset their thinking and to encourage them to stop before they act. We’ve seen the incredible impact Virtual_Decisions: GANGS has had on the young people we work with. We have no doubt that a new engaging, immersive and authentic VR experience will be just as successful, helping to support thousands more young people.”
PS Jen Pullinger, Youth Crime Sergeant in the West Midlands Police, and her team, have worked closely with Round Midnight over the past year to deliver Virtual_Decisions: GANGS to young people who have out of court disposals. She said:
“I strongly believe that a programme specifically aimed at knife crime would be a huge benefit as this is where the greatest need is across Birmingham right now. Many of the young people living in Birmingham carry knives or weapons for a number of reasons, sometimes not fully understanding the consequences of doing so. Whilst there are a lot of knife/weapons education programmes in place already, the creativity, originality and relevance of the VR programme would be greatly welcomed”
The Serious & Organised Crime Community Coordinator (SOC CC) Chief Inspector Corrina Griffiths, West Midlands Police, commissioned the new VR programme after seeing first-hand the impact of Virtual_Decisions: GANGS. She said:
“This immersive virtual experience has proven to be an excellent mechanism to engage with young people. It enables young people to explore their real-life environment and identify any vulnerabilities they may personally be experiencing. Violence and especially knife crime involving young people is unfortunately something Birmingham is experiencing, and they need to be educated on making safe choices, changing mind-sets in understanding the impact and consequences of carrying or using knives on themselves, their families and the wider communities. The insights for creating the immersive experience have been gained from local young people, supported by an academic researcher, which makes the virtual reality programme more credible for young people to resonate and engage with”
For more information and to stay up to date with the VIRTUAL_DECISIONS: KNIVES programme, visit the Round Midnight website and social media platforms.
The LINK_UP project press release will appear here soon.