THREE German students have become YouTube stars after sitting down with a homeless man to play some tunes.

The trio, who are part of non profit organisation be japy e.V., have made a hobby out of surprising homeless people in this way, with the dual purpose of paying attention to people who are so often ignored, and raising a bit of extra money for them.

To raise more awareness for their cause, they decided to film an example of their interactions, hiring an actor to sit in as a homeless man before uploading it to YouTube.

“We liked the message of what we were doing so we decided to turn it into a video in order to encourage others to possibly do the same,” they wrote on their YouTube channel.

“Before filming we asked ourselves the following question: Can we simply film a person in distress and put it up on the internet, without asking them or knowing their history? Our answer is quite clearly no, which is why we have hired an actor to take on this role.

“The whole thing is a symbolic food for thought… Some comments go, unfortunately, below the belt, which is very hurtful and discouraging for us. But we still keep at it, because we believe in the cause.”

Even though the interaction is staged, the impact it’s had on the nine million people who have viewed the video since July 1 is not. Many have been moved to do the same thing in their home towns across the world, with one YouTube user from Canada commenting “This a great idea and a huge gesture! … Congratulations for your imagination, talent, and drive to remind all of us that we all have a “noble” and “divine” part in us.”