“My long-term goal is to build on our relationships and communication with other agencies, such as children’s services and schools. That way we can really make sure we are working together to support children and families.”
Devina Cross is a Frontline fellow and head of safeguarding at the RAF Air Cadets. Over the past months, Devina has been busy developing a training programme – with a twist. Using virtual reality, she hopes that adult volunteers will be better able to understand and support children and young people in their care.
The RAF Air Cadets are a UK wide force with over 40,000 members aged between 12-20 years. I wanted to develop a training programme to support our 12,000 adult volunteers to safeguard the many young people we work with who are experiencing a challenging time at home, and rely on the Air Cadets as a space of safety.
What people often don’t realise is that groups like the RAF Air Cadets are vital for our communities. For many children, it is the one place they can come and be themselves. Our volunteers may hold a little piece of a child’s story that other agencies are not aware of.
My idea of incorporating virtual reality into the training came from a free webinar I attended by Antser. The support of the Frontline Fellowship really gave me the confidence to push my idea forward and make things happen. The Air Cadets are familiar with using technology in other areas of their work, so I was lucky to be able to use this as a leverage to secure funding for two sets of virtual reality headsets, and a 12-month package of the software which we are able to load onto our own headsets.
Using virtual reality as part of the training for volunteers really enables them to step into the shoes of young people and build a greater understanding of the circumstances they face and deepen their empathy as a result. The topics that we cover include domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, county lines, and bullying and harassment. Volunteers are able to evaluate the impact for children and families, and learn how they can work with my team to put a plan of support in place, working within a multi-agency context with other key professionals.
Success of the training programme for me is that we are more visible as a safeguarding team, and our young people are being better supported. However, my long-term goal is to build on our relationships and communication with other agencies, such as children’s services and schools. That way we can really make sure we are working together to support children and families.
Are you a Frontline fellow? Have an idea that you’d like support with? Get in touch with the team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to find out more about volunteering opportunities at the RAF Air Cadets? Visit their website.