Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

I’m intrigued by the possibility of developing apps for working with young people through supporting, advising and educating them in all aspects of personal development. Recently I came across iHobo from Depaul, a youth homelessness charity. The free app is designed to challenge perceptions around homelessness and is the work of charity Depaul UK and advertising agency Publicis London. The Charity  identified that it needs to attract new donors to support it’s work, and promote itself to a younger audience, hence the app. According to Depaul:

“A young homeless person lives on your iPhone for three days. Take care of him, or his life could spiral out of control. You’ll need to be there for him, day and night, providing food, money, warmth and support. He’ll alert you when he gets into trouble or needs your help, and the speed of your response could be the difference between him making it through in one piece, or becoming addicted to drugs. Can you keep him on the straight and narrow?”

I haven’t downloaded the app yet to see it in action however I really like the way in which Depaul have identified where it needs to develop. They’re using a range of social media tools to do this, including youtube and mobile technology. Information available states that the app is designed to make you pay attention, and think about how you can make a difference. It uses Apple’s latest “Push Notification” technology to send alerts to you when iHobo needs help. With live interactive footage it is trying to make this  virtual experience as real as possible. In all sorts of ways it is reaching its target audience through the very medium that they are using daily. How many of us are doing that in our youth work, or childrens services? What sort of things could we do with this if we put our minds to it? Not being technical minded I’m not sure how it all works however I’m sure that there can and will be more public service apps in the future.

iHobo is free to download so why not have a look and give it a try? Let me know your thoughts!

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Comments on: "Developing Apps for Charity and Youth Work" (4)

  1. Hey Hilary

    App development is definitely an interesting area to explore. I’ve been trying to track down any research on how many young people have app-enabled mobile phones, and what platforms are more popular – but not had much luck yet… though anecdotal evidence certainly suggests there is a lot of potential…

    A few things worth looking at for interesting App-related stuff:

    http://appsforgood.org/ – is a new project using application development as a way to help young people develop their skills – and to develop useful apps in the process.

    Young Rewired State (http://rewiredstate.org/events/young-2010) is running August events where young people can develop stuff with government data. Perhaps some events might be encouraged to do some mobile development…

    Some sorts of app development are certainly on my list of things to explore with Youth Work Online after the Summer – as I’m sure there are (a) lots of apps out there already useful for youth work settings and (b) lots of need that we might be able to get people to club together to work on…

    Would love to hear if you explore app building any more…

  2. billybean said:

    Hi Tim

    Thanks for this info – I will check out the websites you mention and also let you know more of what I find. I’m interested in a number of ways this might work.

    I will keep on the look out for any data re young people and app enabled mobile phones.

    I am hoping to get a group of young people running, probably early Sept (due to exams and holidays) to look at blogging and integrated social media. The group are keen on journalism and participation (some are involved with the Youth Council). I will keep this in mind for then as well

  3. Hi Hilary – I can see it as being good for publicity, not so sure about it as an app for challenging perceptions/educating/empathising though (the feedback on the app certainly doesn’t suggest any of that is happening anyway!)

    It reminds me of those fake (screaming) babies that supposedly put young girls off the idea of having a baby at a young age. Having spent a lot of time seeing them in use on residentials I never had the impression those were effective either.

    There’s definitely potential though in terms of supporting young peoples personal development. Perhaps one of the most effective methods is in supporting those that work with young people to be more effective in their work – this seems to be largely overlooked though with most discussions focussed on young peoples use of technology (opposed to practitioners ineffective use of it (not always their own fault I realise)).

  4. […] posted before about my interest in Apps for youth work here. Due to the changes happening within the Service I haven’t been able to pursue my interest […]

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