Focus MRS supports ex-offenders in their learning and development of key skills that can help to improve their lives and circumstances whilst directly preparing for potential careers and jobs for the future.
The use of VR technology can immerse individuals into unfamiliar environments and situations which may at first seem daunting or intimidating as they integrate back into regular life. These immersive experiences can support individuals for mixing with people from all walks of life, improve communication skills and confidence for becoming happier as a person.
Previous research has proven that re-offending rates are as high as 69% after less than one year following release with no employment which is significantly higher than 32% of those who manage to secure P45 employment spells within 12 years of release from prison.
Focus MRS wanted to explore how additional innovative tools and technologies can best assist in this learning and development and where these experiences can be further enhanced.
The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) worked with Focus MRS Director, Mark Paddock to explore what digital tools they currently have access to, what the business objectives were and which Industry 4.0 technologies could further support them on their digital journey.
The VEC identified Augmented Reality (AR) as the next suitable technology which could further enhance their offering for users in the future. AR can ensure that the immersive environments and materials are not only more engaging but can introduce further interaction for improved engagement and learning.
The Industrial Digitalisation team at the VEC held a Knowledge Transfer workshop for the Focus MRS team, to demonstrate how this technology works and how it can be implemented and used within their current demonstrations, ensuring the teams had the skills for managing in the future and long-term basis.
Using mixed reality tools Including virtual and mixed reality technologies has enhanced the offering of Focus MRS and the experience of the end-users.
The addition of Mixed reality can help to increase the learning of new skills for ex-offenders by allowing them to immerse themselves into realistic environments which can help with self-esteem but also the learning of new skills which can be applied to their lives and careers in the future. Augmented Reality will allow for users to interact with the environments, follow instructions and feel better supported which in turn can be exciting and motivating.
The teams have developed a working relationship with Inside Connections, pairing probation officers and prison leavers to support in skill development. A recent pilot project has seen Focus MRS provide virtual reality solutions as part of this training and access to realistic virtual environments for learning new skills.
Focus MRS also hope to use these digital tools and technologies for supporting the retraining and upskilling of workers; something which has proven difficult in multiple industries due to remote working and other effects brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company have also started to collaborate with Nobody Left Behind, a Liverpool based organisation who offer free workshops and support youth and disadvantaged communities in the development of skills within sports, civil engineering and constructions for example.
I would definitely recommend working with the LCR4 START team if you are keen to explore how a digital strategy can enhance current and future products and services. Focus MRS pride itself on being innovative with a strong understanding of virtual tools and technologies but it is always great to gain a non-bias professional opinion which has made us even more aware of future opportunities.
Our service is key to improving the education of many but also support the mental health and well-being of those looking for their new beginning as they search for their place in society and explore how they would like to give back.Mark Paddock, Focus MRS Director