Technology has brought us humans so many good things. We can communicate. We are entertained. We are safer. We are progressing, developing and continually learning. But, it also gives us a greater power to help others.
Project 256, co-ordinated by Chris Courtney, has been created to give a voice back to the homeless through art and technology. It wants to change the perception of giving to the homeless and prevent homeless people from becoming shunned or invisible.
First of all a street artist paints a huge image of the homeless person in a prominent public position with a unique QR code and a web-link. The web-link shows you a video about the homeless person featured and the QR code is linked to a Bitcoin wallet that belongs to the homeless person in the portrait.
A donation can be made that is both direct and instantly received. The homeless person is supplied with a phone for them to be able to utilise the donations. This means you know the donated money is going directly to help that person to buy food or shelter for the night, or to save for larger purchases.
The homeless person isn’t dependent on being there to receive the donation and I can imagine that this could make donations more consistent and reliable? I guess we will see as the project unfolds!
Check out Herakut’s website
The project is starting in London and Paris where there is a lot of free wi-fi available on the street. However the project hasn’t been without its teething problems. Initially the phones were quickly sold to make instant cash. However, now the phone is looked after by the street artist or a volunteer for up to a month with the hope that the homeless person will understand that it will provide an income with potential long term benefits.
The artist’s image makes it a positive talking point and individual stories can be followed. Columbo was the first man in Britain to be featured. He has been painted in Shoreditch, in East London by Bom.K. and can be seen at the top of this page as the main article image and below.
Art is being used to PR the cause, to tell a story and change people’s perceptions. There is a story, a person, a life behind the homeless person you donate to, a story told through beautiful street art imagery and amazing advances in technology. But most importantly this facilitates the ability to be able to help.
The more I learn about PR, the more I see it as a glue that holds projects together, it has the ability to create a platform where it can help to inform, educate and facilitate. PR is powerful. It comes in various forms and functions.