World's first vending machine for the homeless opens in UK

World's first vending machine for the homeless opens in UK
Photo credit: Action Hunger

The world's first vending machine for homeless people has opened in England.

At a shopping centre in Nottingham, homeless people can take up to three items per day using a special key card.

Food, water, clothing, blankets and toiletries are available 24 hours a day. To keep the card activated, users must attend support services once a week.

The scheme was launched by charity Action Hunger, to ensure homeless people have access to services outside the hours of available charities and shelters.

The vending machine was dreamed up by charity director Huzaifah Khaled, who told the Nottingham Post, "I spoke to a lot of homeless people and saw there was a crucial need for something like this."

Key cards are handed out by homeless charity The Friary.

"We are not trying to supplant homeless services but to complement them," said Mr Khaled.

The machines are inexpensive and economical to run, and Action Hunger works with other support services and charities in the area to provide the free goods they contain.

Volunteers keep the machines stocked, and donors include major UK supermarkets Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

The charity plans to roll out its machines to two more UK cities and New York City. It is also looking to expand to France, Greece, China and Australia.

Last year, at least 4,000 people were sleeping rough on the streets across the UK, according to the charity Crisis.