The World's First Vending Machine For Homeless People Has Been Installed
Well, as of today, the vending machine is now up and running, and will provide those in need with such essentials as food, clean clothing, toothbrushes and other sanitary products on a 24/7 basis.
Up to 100 homeless people will be able to 'purchase' three free items a day from the machine using a traceable key card.
It sounds like a really great idea - especially at this time of year, when cold weather and everybody else's festive spirits can have a truly detrimental effect on those who aren't so lucky.
Credit: Action Hunger
The goods inside the vending machine have all been donated by a handful of companies, with the likes of Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's all having donated products so far. The machines will be stocked by volunteers each day.
The key cards are to be issued by Action Hunger's partner organisations, which includes The Friary in Nottingham - an organisation that already offers homeless people lunch and counselling, as well as showers and medical care.
"We will be prioritising rough sleepers," said Friary CEO, Sam Crawford. "Not everyone who visits us is a rough sleeper, some are homeless in other ways such as those in temporary accommodation, so that would be who we would prioritise.
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"It's an innovative way in which food and provisions can be made available out of hours to people in need."
The reason for limiting the number of items an individual can take to three a day is apparently to avoid dependency on the vending machines. Seems to make sense, because while much more of this sort of thing needs to be done in order to help those in distress and in vulnerable positions, it's far from a long-term solution.
Instead, this is a welcome stop-gap that can be used to soften the short-term problems, while the real issues - most importantly a lack of housing - remain in dire need of fixing.
That's clear if you just look at recent statistics released by homeless charity Shelter, which claims that as many as 307,000 people are currently staying in hostels or temporary accommodation, or sleeping on the streets in the UK right now - a number that's larger than the population of Newcastle, believe it or not.
Of that figure, over 4,400 are currently sleeping rough according to current statistics.
While the machine in Nottingham is the first of its kind, Action Hunger have plans to install a second machine in Manchester in the not too distant future, followed by one in New York in February.
Words: Mischa Pearlman
Featured Image Credit: Action Hunger
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