Britain’s first vending machine for homeless to be trialled before Christmas

Excess food, sanitary products and socks will be on offer for rough sleepers as part of the pilot project in Nottingham with plans to launch across the UK if it is a hit

The first vending machine for homeless people will be hitting the streets before Christmas – with plans to roll out the project across Britain.

The innovative concept, by homelessness charity Action Hunger, will see waste food sourced from supermarkets, fundraisers and local shops fill the dispenser outside intu Broadmarsh shopping centre in Nottingham.

Up to 100 rough sleepers will be provided with a traceable key card that offers access to the machine a maximum of three times a day, giving a convenient way to pick up food as well as sanitary products and clothing essentials like clean socks.

By limiting the number of items available to pick up each day, it is hoped that the system will not be subjected to abuse and dependency on the machines will be discouraged.

Based in Nottingham, the charity opted to try out the vending machine locally initially – but, as trustee Huzaifah Khaled explains, plans are afoot to roll out the concept, believed by the charity to be a world-first, elsewhere if it proves a success.

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He said: “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 machine does in Nottingham.”

Donations will come from FareShare, a charity who take supermarket surplus and redistribute it to good causes, as well as produce purchased by Action Hunger.

Key cards will be distributed by partner charity The Friary, who will hand them out at their outreach centre in the West Bridgford area of the city.

From then on, each card holder will be required to check-in every week.

The Friary CEO Sam Crawford, said: “We will be prioritising rough sleepers. 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.”

Main image courtesy of Jack Hughes with thanks

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