Installed in Nottingham in December, it contains water, food, hygiene items and books, and can be accessed by homeless people around the clock via key cards
It looks like an ordinary vending machine, but this one doesn’t only stock crisps, chocolate and sweets. Its shelves are lined with water, energy bars, sandwiches and fresh fruit – but socks, sanitary towels, books and toothbrushes too. And it’s not designed for commuters on the move, or gym-goers eyeing a quick snack, but to supply rough sleepers with essential items, around the clock, seven days a week.
The machine is a project by charity Action Hunger, whose team hopes to install more across the UK in 2018 before expanding to Europe and the US. It is thought to be the first vending machine of its kind in the UK. Use is exclusively limited to people in urgent need, and items are only accessible using key cards. The machine has been accessed 1,410 times in the past fortnight.
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In Nottingham, Action Hunger has partnered with a day centre for homeless people, The Friary, whose staff will give out the key cards to rough sleepers they know. The format – working with established partners with valuable local knowledge – will be replicated in future projects, with London, Manchester, Birmingham, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle all on the Action Hunger team’s wishlist.
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