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Sometimes a great idea comes along and you wonder how nobody thought of it before. Britain's first vending machine designed specifically for homeless people, which will launch just in time for Christmas, is definitely one of them.
The 24/7 dispenser will installed in Nottingham and stocked with fresh fruit, sanitary towels, socks, energy bars and sandwiches. And yeah, of course it would better to eliminate homelessness itself, but this is a great stop-gap until that happens.
The concept comes from homelessness charity Action Hunger, it will be installed outside Broadmarch shopping centre and up to 100 homeless people will be able to 'purchase' three free items a day from the machine using a traceable key card.
Credit: Action Hunger
Charity trustee Huzaifah Khaled believes the machine is the first of its kind, not just in the UK but the world. He told The Mirror: "We chose Nottingham because it's the city that I grew up in and have a deep affinity for, but we do plan on installing [a vending machine] in Manchester in January, then London and Birmingham.
"But everything hinges on how this does in Nottingham."
The machine will be installed near the back entrance of the shopping centre at the start of December, with a hundred key cards will be dropped off at local outreach centre The Friary - a partner of Action Hunger.
"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.
"It's an innovative way in which food and provisions can be made available out of hours to people in need."
Credit: Action Hunger
Those who are given a key card will need to check into the Friary at least once a week in order to keep using it.
Donations from FareShare, a supermarket surplus distribution charity, will make up 50 per cent of vending machine stock, with the other half bought by Action Hunger.
Action Hunger will also be installing vending machines for the homeless across the United States from the start of next year with sites earmarked in Seattle, New York City and LA.
If you like the sound of the fantastic work Action Hunger are doing, you can help out by donating to the charity here.
Words: Mischa Pearlman
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