Virgin Media has launched the ultimate virtual Santa’s grotto to allow little ones throughout the UK the chance to speak to Santa and tell him what they would love for Christmas. What’s more, this free of charge service will also be accessible to all as Virgin Media will provide a sign language interpreter and an audio descriptor to ensure as many families as possible can enjoy the magic of meeting Santa virtually.
Virgin Media have an ongoing partnership with Scope, and this has highlighted the need for more accessible experiences for disabled children.
Recent research revealed that 60% of parents aren’t planning to take kids to a grotto this year for reasons of safety and a poll of disabled parents that also revealed that of those who aren’t attending a grotto this year, nearly one in five say that in-person grotto experiences aren’t accessible for their children.
When can we visit Santa?
During the first three weekends of December, families can pay a virtual visit to Santa’s grotto with everything you’d expect from an in-person meet and greet – including a cameo from Rudolph – but without leaving the house.
To secure a slot in Santa’s busy schedule, families need to complete an online form, which goes live on 20 November, with a selection of video calls reserved for Virgin Media customers.
To make the experience as magical and personalised as possible, families can provide Santa with their child’s Christmas wish list in advance, as well as any fun facts about their kids. Families who are allocated a slot will later be given an opportunity to share a copy of their child’s ‘letter to Santa’ ahead of their session with him, too.
When entry closes on 23 November at 11:59pm, virtual visits to the North Pole will be awarded at random – regardless of who has been naughty or nice. Santa’s elves will then book in sessions during the three weekends before Christmas, starting 5 December.
To make the experience even more special, every child that meets Santa will be sent a free reindeer soft toy of their own, complete with a red shiny nose.
Cilesta Van Doorn from Virgin Media commented: “When we can’t be together in person, we need to be creative and find new ways to enjoy the festivities while connecting with loved ones online. After an extraordinary year, Christmas couldn’t come soon enough and we’ve had lots of fun ensuring Santa and his elves have all the tech they need for the ultimate virtual grotto experience.
“We want to make sure the experience is accessible for as many families as possible and have worked with our friends at Scope to ensure that it’s a truly magical encounter for everyone as they take a virtual visit to Lapland from their laptop.”
Mark Hodgkinson, Chief Executive at disability equality charity Scope, said: “Christmas should be a magical time of the year for all families. But things can be a lot tougher for disabled families.
“These families often face barriers to joining in with activities and opportunities. This shouldn’t be the case. There are 14 million disabled people in the UK.
“We were delighted to work with Virgin Media and to increase the accessibility of their grotto, and are pleased to put them in touch with disabled families.
“We wish all families that take part the best of luck, and those that are successful in the draw a wonderful time. They might be able to take an ‘elfie’ or two.”
How it works
1. Families can request a video call from Santa via an online form – with slots available for disabled families and those who are shielding as well as Virgin Media customers
2. The online form will go live on 20 November, closing on 23 November at 11:59pm
3. Families will be chosen at random and will then be contacted by Virgin Media if they are successful in securing a 15-minute slot at Santa’s virtual grotto
4. Video calls to take place on 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20 December
The virtual Santa’s Grotto is part of Virgin Media’s ‘Let’s Do Christmas’ campaign which will spread festive joy and see incredible prize giveaways during December.
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