Could Smartphone Apps Be Used to Help The Homeless?

iphone6silver-3The internet has miraculously overhauled a number of industries in the last few years, from food delivery to taxi rides, with smartphone apps right at the centre of it all. But could these innovative creations be used to help the most vulnerable in society – the homeless community?

One app, created be The Homeless Foundation, aims to do just that. HiHomie offer access to an online youth homeless prevention service, providing young people between the ages of 16 and 24 with the advice and support they need if they’re considering leaving home.

It’s believed that early preventative work with these individuals is sorely needed. For many of them, staying at home or living with relatives is no longer possible, and many of them will simply move out without a real thought for their future accommodation. HiHomie offers help and support, pointing these young people in the direction of organisations who could assist, rather than simply leaving them to fall into a spiral of homelessness which is hard to rectify.

HiHomie is the brainchild of one of The Homeless Foundations’ trustees, Joanne O’Donnell. It will be initially rolled out in Worcestershire, with financial support from Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia Police, John Campion. There is scope for the app to be expanded across the country, should sufficient funds become available – and with more than 120,000 young people every year approaching their local authorities due to the risk of becoming homeless, it’s clear the app is much-needed.

Other apps helping the homeless

There are also a multitude of other apps out there which can be used to help the homeless, either by connecting them with appropriate services, or by encouraging people to simply do a good deed. Here are just a few of them:

Streetlink – This is an app designed to allow the public to notify authorities if someone is sleeping rough in their local area. Rough sleepers aren’t generally known to the local authorities and councils, and because they have no fixed abode, they are hard to contact. Streetlink alerts the relevant authorities so that action can be taken to help the person sleeping rough. The app can also be used by individuals who are sleeping rough, should they have access to a smartphone.

Team London – This app is associated with Boris Johnson’s volunteering campaign for the city of London. It makes ‘Speed Volunteering’ easy – Londoners simply sign up, state their location and how much time they have to give up, and the app will connect them with a volunteering opportunity that helps the local community. This could be anything from clearing up a local park to volunteering in a soup kitchen, which helps those who are homeless or unable to afford food.

Donate Locate – This app is similar to Streetlink’s offering, but it adds the opportunity to donate a small amount to a local homeless charity, too. It’s designed to encourage people to share the location of a homeless person they spot sleeping rough (mostly in the capital), and users can instantly donate a small amount of money to The Connection at St Martin’s, which has a street team supporting homeless individuals.

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