A downloadable mobile phone game - known as an 'app' - to raise awareness of youth homelessness is attracting criticism for stereotyping young, homeless people.
Users of the free iHobo app
, created on behalf of youth homelessness charity Depaul UK, are required to look after a 'virtual' rough sleeper for three days, giving them food, money and shelter when needed. There is also a donations page, where users can pledge 1, 3 or 10 to Depaul UK.
article said the controversy surrounded "how tasteful the app is, how effective it is and whether it stereotypes young homeless people."
Comments on social networking site Twitter revealed some of the responses. "Trying #iHobo to find out how it manages to deal with stereotypes. So far not looking good," said one user. Another wrote: "A crap app. Homeless awareness is so important but this doesn't achieve anything."
But chief executive of Depaul UK, Paul Marriott, said it was the right approach: "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," he said.
"We want people to understand that giving money on the street isn't the answer - it's about supporting organisations who have been set up to help them."
Although 80 per cent of Depaul UK's funding comes from statutory sources such as local councils, and only 20 per cent from fundraising activities, including donors, there is no doubt there is also a strong fundraising objective for the iHobo 'app'. At the time of going to press, the iHobo app had been downloaded from the UK iPhone app store more than 100,000 times.