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Facebook ‘bot’ talks homelessness


Attitudes towards homelessness are too often based on a misunderstanding of the issues. To help remedy that a company in Scotland has pioneered a new Facebook Messenger ‘bot’ to boost awareness.

Called Alex – the innovation from Scottish charity Cyrenians – is a response to a poll that found 15% of Scots think youngsters are homeless out of choice, while a quarter believe it is because they refuse help.

Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive at Cyrenians said:“The problem we have today, as this poll demonstrates, is that when a young person is homeless most people tend to believe it is through some sort of choice.  However, the causes of homelessness and why people find it hard to get out of it is incredibly complex. Cyrenians work with young people who find themselves in this situation giving them the advice and support they need to get back on their feet.”

“But we can’t do this alone.  We need the public to understand that young people can be homeless for any number of reasons outwith their control.  The launch of Alex is a massive step towards making that change.  If people find this a useful way to understand more, we will introduce similar technology to support our front-line service work with those at risk of homelessness or dealing with conflict at home.

“Users can ask Alex questions about how he ended up in his situation, get to know him a little, and even find out how they too could help a young homeless person with just a small gesture of kindness.”

Alex calls on real life experiences of homelessness to provide answers about why he ended up on the streets.


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