Virtual reality headsets are being used to train Norfolk foster carers, so they can better understand the lives of the children they look after.

The unusual step comes as Norfolk County Council urgently appeals for more families who can offer loving homes to children.

The Conservative-controlled council has spent £38,400 to hire 36 VR headsets and immersive films, along with associated training and support.

Social workers are using the headsets with foster carers to give them fresh insight into the experiences of the children they look after.

The films place carers in the child’s shoes, showing what they have been through and how this has affected them, with council bosses saying that means foster carers can see things from the child’s perspective.

The sets are used in carers’ support groups, as well as individual sessions. They help carers understand brain development, the impact of trauma and the experience of children who have autism.

Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: Penny Carpenter, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's servicesPenny Carpenter, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services (Image: Newsquest)

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Penny Carpenter, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: "Foster carers offer love, care and empathy to some of our most vulnerable children, which is why it’s so important that we give them all of the training and support they need to really understand the experiences of the children they look after.

"The virtual reality training is just one of the ways we’re helping to support relationships between carers and their children and young people.

"We know fostering is both a rewarding and challenging experience and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to support our carers, so they can provide the best care for our children."

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There are currently 805 children in fostering placements, including agency placements. They are among the 1,220 looked-after children in the county.

There are 305 fostering households within Norfolk County Council's own fostering service, but the council is keen to recruit more, especially between the ages of 30 to 50 or younger.

Anyone interested in fostering can visit or call 01603 306649.