Amnesty International UK has given street fundraisers virtual reality headsets so they can show the public the impact barrel bombing has had in Syria.
Street fundraisers in London, Manchester and Leeds have been equipped with refurbished smartphones and £15 virtual reality headsets to offer potential donors a 360 view of the destruction caused by fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Barrel bombs are cylindrical containers filled with explosive dropped from helicopters by the Assad regime in Syria. They have been banned by the United Nations Security Council because they indscriminately target civilians.
Amnesty International UK innovations manager, Reuben Steains, said: “This is a first for street fundraising. These immensely powerful images transport you in an instant from an ordinary British high street to scenes of apocalyptic destruction in Aleppo. It’s shocking and it’s meant to be.
“This is not just street fundraising, this is Amnesty innovating in how we shine a light. The focus is on offering passers-by a memorable and arresting experience which we believe will connect with them in a deeper way.
“The horrors of barrel bombing aren’t happening here but they are happening now. Seeing these immensely affecting images will, we believe, have a genuinely transformative effect on the viewer.”
The photos used were taken by a group of Syrian citizen journalists, Lamba Media Productions (see example below).
At the moment there are 12 headsets being trialled by fundraisers and a further ten have been ordered.
The project is currently visuals-only, but future designs are likely to incorporate audio, text-rich annotations and film. A spokesman told Civil Society News that so far “we’ve had a really good response” and that “we are hoping to use them in other campaigns as well if we have the right material”.