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When Sheffield Hallam Uni lecturer Jon Dean asked 41 students to sketch what homelessness looked like to them, three-quarters showed someone sleeping rough – and 24 pictured men, mostly with beards or stubble.
No surprise there, you might say. But the report also suggests that charities may actually benefit from reinforcing this stereotype.
They concluded: “It would be a risk for homelessness charities to utilise less stereotypical images in their fundraising materials, as the findings suggest such images align with those in the minds of potential donors.”
Previous research by Dean and colleague Beth Breeze, from the University of Kent, even suggests homeless people said they were willing to be misrepresented by stereotyped images if it allowed charities to make more money.
But others have criticised the use of such images as cynical and damaging.