Homeless app to help save lives

Behind the Idea: Pioneering people and ideas in the creative industries

Creative agency Soul solves the dilemma of ‘to give or not to give’.

Director Shaun Moran explains how:

So, what’s the big idea?

It’s an app that we’ve created for London homeless charity, The Connection, which is going to change the way we give to homeless people.  Donate Locate allows you to donate a small amount, either £1, £3 or £5, to The Connection when you see a homeless person, while at the same time recording their location on a hotspot map via your phone’s GPS.  That enables the charity’s outreach team to easily find homeless people in the area.

Where did the idea come from?

Often we’re told not to give to homeless people on the street in case they spend money on drugs and alcohol.  However, it’s when you see them on the street that compels you to want to give.  The app solves the dilemma of how to help the people you see without giving to them directly.

What were the main obstacles you had to overcome?

It had to be really easy to donate so you could do it ‘in the moment’ – when you felt most compelled to give.  It was built so you can donate at the touch of a button on screen and receive a simple text to confirm your donation.  Your donation is added to your mobile operator bill or debits your prepay account and is then passed on to The Connection.

Why should people care about this idea?

Ultimately, it could save lives.  The money you give to homeless people is often spent on drugs and alcohol, which could contribute to their early death (a point that we made in a previous poster campaign we did for The Connection).  The other reason to care is that you’re both raising money and saving time for a great charity.  The app raises money through donations and saves time by helping the outreach team locate homeless people.

What makes this innovation so different and special?

Being told not to give to homeless people in the street is a well-publicised and long-running issue.  Finally, here’s the solution.

What advice do you give to people who want to come up with a big idea?

Any idea can become your ‘big idea’, it just takes a lot of awareness, perseverance and critique.  First, you need to ensure you understand the area you’re working in from different perspectives.  That will help you create an idea that deals with a number of problems at once.  You then need the perseverance to push your idea through any problems you face along the way.  Once your idea feels fully formed, you need to become your own worst critic; don’t just settle for your first idea.

Do you think Britain is now primarily an ideas economy?

British creative industries are worth more than £70billion a year to the economy, so it’s unquestionably vital to UK plc.  I’m glad its importance is being recognised.  When I was at school – about 100 years ago – you only had the option of art or drama.  Not even both!

Donate Locate is currently available on the App Store here.

Article originally published 19 March 2015 in The Metro.  The e-edition can be found here.