Virgin Media to host free video calls with Santa and Rudolph

18 November 2020, 00:04

Santa Claus' online grotto
Virgin Media to host free video calls with Santa and Rudolph. Picture: PA

Slots will be available for disabled families and those who are shielding, as well as some of Virgin Media’s own customers.

Santa and Rudolph are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic by going online this Christmas to speak with children on the good list via video call.

Virgin Media is offering a limited number of free 15-minute video call sessions during the first three weekends of December, with an appearance from Rudolph the reindeer and a reindeer soft toy gift.

The virtual experience will have dedicated slots for disabled families and those who are shielding, with a sign language interpreter and an audio descriptor available for people who need it.

A selection of slots will also be reserved for any Virgin Media customers.

Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope – which worked with Virgin Media on the project – said: “Christmas should be a magical time of the year for all families. But things can be a lot tougher for disabled families.

Santa Claus grotto
Santa has been forced to do things a bit differently this year due to the pandemic and social distancing (Matt Alexander/PA)

“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.”

People will be able to apply via an online form from November 20 until November 23, before being selected at random.

Video calls will take place on December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20.

“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,” said Virgin Media’s Cilesta Van Doorn.

“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.”

By Press Association