Digital Campaign of the Week: Homeless Link

The umbrella organisation for homelessness charities has launched a garden in 3D virtual world Second Life to address stereotypes about homeless people

Places of Change Garden
Places of Change Garden
What is it?

Earlier this year, Homeless Link was one of the lead partners in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, when 500 homeless people designed and created a real garden. The objective was to overcome stereotypes of homeless people and to demonstrate that homeless people have talent. Homeless Link was then given funding from the Gulbenkian Foundation to create a virtual representation of the real garden in Second Life, called the Places of Change Garden, which will be online for the next year.  

Second life What happened this week?

Members of the public were invited to take part in an event at the garden on Second Life earlier this week, where they could look around the flower displays.

The garden’s real-life photographer, Robert Davidson, who has experience of homelessness, took part in the two-hour event at the virtual garden. Davidson’s avatar was interviewed by Homeless Link chief executive Jenny Edwards’ avatar in front of an international audience.

Anything else?

After the interview, a tour of the garden was led by Edwards’ avatar. Siri Vita, the creator of the in-world garden, was also present to talk about the process of its creation, while Junivers Stockholm streamed music, including some he composed for the garden and some tracks from Streetwise Opera’s CD There’s a Place for Us.

Why create the garden in Second Life?

Homeless Link’s Edwards said of the campaign: "The idea behind the Garden for Change was to build on the positive impact of the real garden. We want to break down the stereotypes of homeless people by demonstrating to the general public and business internationally that homeless people have talents and potential and should not be written off by society."

She added: "We want to promote the project to homelessness organisations internationally in order to share the learning and good practice. Second Life offers an alternative way to host debates and discussions with people from across the world." 

Second life How was the website promoted?

The organisation drove people online to the site through promotion on its Facebook site, Twitter feed and website.

Third Sector verdict:

By using Second Life instead of other forms of social media as a platform for the campaign, the organisation has successfully brought the garden to life online. It has also used other forms of social media to push people to the site for maximum awareness. 

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