Aidex Voices

The Danish Red Cross’ powerful virtual reality film can be experienced at this year’s AidEx event in Brussels as it is rolled out across Europe to enhance empathy by connecting Europeans with Syrian refugees.

Take a seat on the red bench and put your VR googles on. You will suddenly be exported to a faraway land, in one of the neighbouring countries to Syria, where 5.6 million Syrians have fled to.

You are placed in a building that has been torn down, on a dusty dirt road between refugee tents, and right in front of Syrian refugees who will tell you about their daily lives, challenges and concerns, but also hopes and dreams of the future.

The Danish Red Cross’ VR experience, the ‘Red VR Bench’, has recently won the prize for the best Event & Experiential Marketing at the Digital Communication Awards 2018. It was developed and produced by VRPRO in partnership with the Danish Red Cross, the event has successfully been launched in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and France, and has been experienced by Dutch and Danish royalties and French Ministers amongst others. In the coming months, in addition to featuring at AidEx 2018, the experience is set to be introduced in Spain, Norway and Switzerland.

Virtual reality invokes empathy

The concept behind the Red Bench derived from the Danish Red Cross’ desire to connect Europeans with Syrian refugees who are forced to live in countries that neighbour their own. The idea transpired from an analog project aimed at reducing loneliness by the Danish Red Cross, which included red benches that were placed around cities to promote conversation between strangers. The VR bench subsequently set out to enhance the dialogue with refugees in the Middle East via VR goggles.

By virtually planting encounters with refugees in the user’s memory, that user can then share their experience and in turn influence more people to spread the message.

Secretary General of the Danish Red Cross, Anders Ladekarl says:

”Virtual reality is a highly effective communications tool, as it helps to ensure understanding and, not least, empathy. And that is exactly what is necessary when addressing the many refugees living in the countries surrounding Syria.”

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The Red VR Bench in the Netherlands

Ladekarl continued: “The areas where these refugees are located are far-flung geographically as well as psychologically, but millions of people are affected and in need of help. We hope this experience can expose more people to the reality of daily life in these areas and show how the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is helping in the whole region, with the support of the European Union.”

The virtual reality experience was recorded this summer in Lebanon, where more than 1 million Syrian Refugees has sought refuge. Read more about the project here.

To try the Red VR Bench experience in person, visit AidEx in Brussels on 14 and 15 November 2018 to meet the Danish Red Cross on stand C24. Register for free here >>