Resilience, Peace and Security

This vending machine is exclusively for homeless people

A man sleeps rough outside a shop, in central London November 20, 2008. Ministers want  to end homelessness in the capital by 2012, as part of a £200m strategy, local media reported. Homelessness minister Iain Wright said, at the annual conference of charity Crisis, that the goal of the government is to ensure that nobody is sleeping rough on the streets when the world comes to London for the Olympics in 2012, the charity said.  REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN) - LM1E4BK0XC201

A new charity plans to give out free food and clothes to those who are homeless this winter. Image: REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh

Lee Mannion
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The world's first vending machine for the homeless will start giving out free food and clothes as charities in Britain gear up for a cold winter amid record levels of homelessness.

A new charity, Action Hunger, plans to stock the machine in Nottingham with excess produce donated by supermarkets, such as fresh fruit and sandwiches, as well as essentials it has bought, like socks, toothpaste and sanitary towels.

"Action Hunger's machines provide access for the most vulnerable in our society to satiate the most basic of needs - that of sustenance," the charity said on its website.

Image: Action Hunger

"They permit access to food and clothing free of charge at any hour - without requiring anyone to be left without aid outside the operating hours of the various charities and shelters that are available."

Homelessness is rising in England, with at least 4,100 people sleeping rough on any given night in 2016, according to the homeless charity Crisis.

Action Hunger lists the supermarkets Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's among its donors, while volunteers will stock the machines each day.

Image: Action Hunger

Users, who will access the machines with special key cards, can take three items per day. Action Hunger says this is to guard against dependency.

Rough sleepers will be given priority, it told the Thomson Reuters Foundation via email.

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The cards will be issued by partner organisations, such as The Friary in central England's Nottingham, which also offers homeless people lunch, counselling, showers and medical care.

Action Hunger said it plans to install a second machine in Manchester soon, and another in New York in February.

(Reporting by Lee Mannion @leemannion. Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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