Housing

Next Meal directs homeless people to nearby soup kitchens using GPS data

The Sean Lock and Naomie Harris-backed site is helping 40 rough sleepers find their next meal in London every day

Next Meal Sean Lock Lee Mack Naomie Harris

With the number of people using foodbanks across the UK rising dramatically and homeless figures also, a new website is trying to make the task of finding local soup kitchens easier for the homeless by using location software to direct them to their nearest

Comics Sean Lock and Lee Mack, as well as actress Naomie Harris, launched NextMeal.co.uk last October alongside founder Martin Stone – who’s also behind Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen.

Since then the website has grown to help 40 rough sleepers-a-day in London, according to its creator, with planned launches across the rest of the UK as well as Dublin and Europe in the pipeline.

Optimised for smartphones, the website uses GPS location software to determine a user’s location before offering a number of suggested places to eat from a database.

According to Stone, the decision to make Next Meal a website rather than an app was made in a bid to ease accessibility and visibility to search engines.

The Next Meal founder said: “We are just a couple of blokes working in a soup kitchen and we came up with this idea on a scrap of paper really but it all about doing all you can to get people off the streets, that’s very important. It has been going very well in London and we’re hoping to roll it out across the rest of the UK as well as in Dublin and other places in Europe.

“What everyone wants in this sector is initiative and proactivity and when people feel something then they should do something about that – that is what we have done here.

Naomie Harris Martin Stone
Naomi-Harris-Martin-Stone-Next-Meal
Martin Stone (right) enlisted the help of stars like Bond actress Naomie Harris to get the service off the ground

“We’ve been working in a street kitchen for 10 years so we have first-hand experience and have been using that to develop the website with the people who are using it.

“The question is: can mobile phone technology help homeless people? Yes we can.”

Next Meal is just one of a number of technological initiatives to connect the homeless to local services recently. An app called StreetLink allows the general public point local authorities and support organisations in the direction of rough sleepers to give them the help they need – and its impact was recently evaluated in a report carried out by homelessness charity Crisis.

Main image: Next Meal

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