Samaritans try a bold virtual reality experiment

Samaritans video cropped

See Samaritans' new virtual reality video.

Graham Martin's photo

26th February 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Samaritans has become one of the first UK charities to experiment with virtual reality to get an awareness raising message across.

For its new We Listen campaign, a specially produced interactive film immerses the viewer in the sights and sounds of a café, across the table from a friend going through a difficult time.  

The soundtrack replicates the buzz of the environment, with distractions coming from all angles.  

Watch below and try clicking and moving your mouse over the video or tilting your tablet or phone to explore visually in 360° everything else going on in the scene.

Samaritans wants to emphasise how valuable listening is when supporting people who may be struggling

During the film the friend starts to reveal what’s going on in his life, but his words are hard to catch or are drowned out, just as they can be in real life.

The film is designed to emphasise the main point of the We Listen campaign, that even when you think you are hearing what someone is saying, it can be hard to listen to what really matters.

Kimberley Anderson, Samaritans’ head of digital communications, said: “It’s rare for a conversation between two people to happen without any kind of interruptions and the film pushes the viewer’s ability to listen, with distracting audio and visuals throughout. 

“Samaritans wants to emphasise how valuable listening is when supporting people who may be struggling. Samaritans are the experts in listening so that people have the time and space to express what’s really going on in their lives. We want to encourage more people to contact us before their feelings overwhelm them.”

The film was produced for Samaritans by The Good Agency. Its creative director Reuben Turner said: “Virtual reality is a storytelling medium that’s yet to be used to its full potential and it offers an exciting new way to bring this simple yet universal core idea to life.  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. 

“We’d never made a film like this before – the whole process of scripting, storyboard and production required a different approach. But working with virtual reality experts Surround Vision, and a brave, trusting client in Samaritans, we were confident we could create a piece people will genuinely connect with.” 

In its first two days from launch, Samaritans’ We Listen film has already had nearly 50,000 views.

You can call Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123, email [email protected], or visit to find details of your nearest branch. 

Get on board with the #WeListen campaign by following Samaritans on Twitter @samaritans or Facebook.