Amnesty International to continue virtual reality fundraiser

Amnesty International's immersive Syria campaign has been well received by Brits
Amnesty International's immersive Syria campaign has been well received by Brits

Amnesty International will expand upon its Syria-focused virtual reality fundraising project following a positive response to the pilot, which was launched earlier in May.

During the pilot, those who donned a virtual reality (VR) headset were exposed to 360-degree images that illustrated barrel bombing in Syria.

The images, which were specially created by Syrian human rights activists, sought to transport Brits to the war-torn districts of Al-Sha’ar and Al Fardos in Aleppo, Syria. 

A total of eight VR headsets were trialled across London, and the charity plans to increase its number of headsets and visit UK cities including Manchester and Leeds.

According to Amnesty International, the project has prompted a 16% increase in people signing up to direct debit donations which support the charity’s human rights work.

The headsets currently display visuals only, however there are plans to incorporate audio, text-rich annotations and film.

Reuben Steains, UK innovations manager at Amnesty International, said: "We always thought seeing these immensely affecting images would have a genuinely transformative effect on the person on the street, but the early results have surpassed our expectations.

"We’ve had a really strong response - in a couple of cases people have been in tears and others have expressed shock and outrage at what they’re seeing in the viewers. Overwhelmingly, people said that they feel more informed and educated about Syria and barrel bombs."

Nina Franklin, street fundraiser at Amnesty International added: "The headsets are so immersive because you can’t help draw comparisons between the street you’re in and the street you see. 

"The VR sets anchor everything: statistics, emotions, stories. Suddenly everything ‘over there’ is so vivid and real. That’s the power of VR."

More: Amnesty International delivers 'get them home' stunt at Waterloo station

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