Samaritans has become one of the first charities to incorporate virtual reality as part of an awareness campaign.
The charity launched the We Listen campaign to highlight the difference between hearing people struggling with issues and listening to their problems. This specially produced video has been created to emphasise those differences.
Shot from the point of view of a friend having a conversation in a café with a man who is going through difficult times, the viewer is immersed in the sights and sounds of the surroundings whilst the man talks.
By using a keyboard mouse, the viewer can scan a full 360º around the cafe to see and hear what else is going on. The clinking of crockery and cutlery, the conversations of other customers and the sound of mobile phones ringing all help to illustrate how difficult it can be to listen to others through the noise and distractions of modern life.
Kimberley Anderson, head of digital communications, said: "We wanted to emphasise how valuable listening is when supporting people who might be struggling, to position Samaritans as the experts in listening and to encourage more people to contact Samaritans before their feelings overwhelm them."
The video was produced in conjunction with the Good Agency, which has worked with a number of other charities, including the RSPCA, the NSPCC and WaterAid. The agency was keen to increase viewers' engagement with the campaign and, as creative director Reuben Turner admitted, the video was an unknown quanitity.
"We’d never made a film like this before," he said. "The whole process of scripting, storyboard and production required a different approach.
"By offering the viewer total control over what they are seeing, along with highly crafted sound design, we added another layer of engagement to the idea."