Inside – Outside is the name we have given our Virtual Reality project. We came up with a plan to help those who can’t leave their environments to enjoy “virtual walks” through gardens, beaches, or country scenes. Residents in care homes, particularly, will be able to take virtual visits to a wide range of interesting locations. These would cover iconic sites, such as the Botanical Gardens (Carmarthenshire) and the Museum of Welsh Life (St Fagans), through to local areas that may bring back memories or anywhere of general interest.
So, in conjunction with Lewis School Pengam, we set about applying for a grant from the Community Lottery and were successful in securing a grant for nearly £9000. The funding will enable us to purchase the necessary equipment; camera, headsets and computer. Volunteers, including school pupils and members of the Caerphilly Over 50 group, would go to care homes, nursing homes and older people’s groups to assist with this. A new local company, PlayFrame, is being used for all training development and delivery.
Caerphilly MS Hefin David congratulated Caerphilly Over 50 and staff at Lewis School Pengam for their hard work, to secure the funding. He said: “The £8,800 funding for the virtual reality project has been secured as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m sure the experience will bring joy to residents in care homes, who’re more at risk of isolation than before the lockdown.”
The Botanical Gardens
At the beginning of August the Virtual Reality project really got underway with a visit by Committee member Mike Oliver and Tom Burmeister from PlayFrame, to the National Botanical Gardens in West Wales. They were invited there by David Hardy, Head of Marketing and Communications at the centre. Our ‘Team’ were given a guided tour by David, who generously gave up part of his very busy schedule to make sure that every aspect of the gardens was available to be filmed.
Elvis Tribute Act
We will also ‘take’ our audience to venues where we film entertaining events. What better place to start with a blast from the past than a Tribute to Elvis.
We were extremely grateful to CJ Horton who is well known for his “Tributes to Elvis” who enthusiastically agreed to do a special performance for our “Inside – Outside” project. Caerphilly County Borough Council kindly agreed to a request to use Ty Penallta, out of hours, as the venue.
Trafalgar Park Care Home, Nelson
All of these efforts would have come to nothing without the cooperation of the Care Homes. It was, therefore, critically important to find a care home that was prepared to help with a pilot of the system. Trafalgar Park Care Home has been magnificent in participating in our pilot. Particular thanks to Haley Vega Zabala, who can be seen here assisting Sandra Purnell, one of the residents, wearing the oculus and viewing the initial films we have taken.
We have also recently received further financial support from GAVO VSEF Comic Relief Fund.