In partnership with Publicis London, homeless charity Depaul UK has launched an iPhone app called iHobo to raise awareness of youth homelessness and reach out to a new younger audience.
The app downloads a young homeless person on to your phone and asks the user to support the young person over the course of three days. Depaul UK hopes to raise awareness of the issue of youth homelessness and question the labels and assumptions that are so often placed upon young people experiencing homelessness.
Unfortunately the iHobo app is only available in the UK app store. Therefore I couldn’t try it myself. In some comments on the web the app is compared with the famous Tamagotchi. A homeless person as a virtual pet is grotesque.
What do you think about iHobo, is it a great idea or bad taste?
Paul Marriott, Chief Executive from Depaul UK: “Homeless young people are often stereotyped and looked down upon. When they sleep rough, they are highly vulnerable and face very real risks. But they are just like any other young person and, with the right support, they can be back on their feet and fulfil their undoubted potential. By creating this app we aim to dispel negative stereotypes of young homeless people and raise awareness of the reasons that young people become homeless and the emotions that they feel. We wanted to create an app that would stand out and make people pay attention, and make people think about how they can make a difference.”
Tom Ewart and Adam Kean, joint executive creative directors, Publicis London: “We wanted to reach that elusive generation of young, affluent donors, who tend to exist in a world defined by their mobiles. It’s been a complicated process getting live interactive footage onto an app, but doing something that’s never been done before was never going to be easy.”