Disabled people supported by a Harrogate charity will be able to step into a whole new world, thanks to Yorkshire Freemasons
In a bid to equip customers for independent living, Disability Action Yorkshire is turning to virtual reality to help train and prepare them for a host of everyday life experiences, including supermarket shopping and travelling by public transport.
Members of the town’s Spa Lodge No. 7609 secured a grant of £2,000 from the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund, which has been used for the charity’s Virtual Independence Project to purchase a Garmin spherical camera, Oculus Go virtual reality headset and a new laptop computer to edit the recorded footage.
Disability Action Yorkshire Chief Executive Jackie Snape said: 'Thanks to the Spa Lodge nominating us for this generous grant, our training sessions for customers will be totally revolutionised.
'Whilst many are keen to live as independently as possible, the reality is that some people have had little or no experience of everyday life – our Virtual Independence Project will change all that.
'Our customers will be able to experience what it is like to travel on a bus independently, travel around a busy shopping centre or supermarket, or prepare and cook a simple meal. The aim is that once people have gained confidence in a virtual setting they will then go to try new experiences in daily life.'
Doug Mills, Spa Lodge Charity Steward, said: 'Charity is one of the three grand principles of Freemasonry and I’m delighted that we have been able to support Disability Action Yorkshire in kick-starting their Virtual Independence Project.
'With the camera, the charity will now be able to develop a series of 360-degree videos, which will help train and prepare customers keen to explore new experiences. I tried the headset on myself, and whilst it was great fun I could see a real benefit for those who lack confidence in undertaking simple tasks which, to them, can seem like major obstacles.
'The visit to Disability Action Yorkshire’s Claro Road residential care home proved to be a very satisfying experience, particularly in the knowledge that Freemasons in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding have provided financial support to the wider community.'