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article imageWorld's first vending machine for the homeless is totally free

By Karen Graham     Dec 27, 2017 in World
Homeless people in the United Kingdom can now obtain food or other personal items like socks or a toothbrush from a vending machine at no cost any time of the day or night, thanks to a local charity called Action Hunger.
The unusual service was two years in the making and went into operation in the Intu shopping center in Broadmarsh last week. It dispenses water, fresh fruit, energy bars, and sandwiches, as well as socks, sanitary towels, antibacterial lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste packs, and books.
Action Hunger is a new charity and they want to work alongside existing charities in tackling the issue of homelessness with the vending machines that can offer necessities at hours when many charities may not be open. The homeless will have access to the items in the vending machine through the use of a keycard. The key cards will be issued to locals through the Friary advice center in West Bridgford.
The keycards are free, just as the items in the vending machine are free. There is a limit of three items per day, and this is so folks don't become totally dependent on the machine. According to The Guardian, most of the fresh food is being supplied by redistribution organizations, while other items will be bought using donations.
Rickshaw drivers  street vendors and tens of thousands of homeless families endure the full force of...
Rickshaw drivers, street vendors and tens of thousands of homeless families endure the full force of pollution that doctors warn can do irreparable damage to the heart, brain and lungs, especially in children
DOMINIQUE FAGET, AFP
The vending machine it's own story
“We want our low-cost solution to complement other services that are available, as engagement with professionals and local support services is instrumental in breaking the cycle of homelessness,” Action Hunger added. The machine was the brainchild of Nottingham local Huzaifah Khaled, 29, who developed the project while undertaking a Ph.D. in law.
Khaled was able to persuade one of the world's largest vending machine companies, N&W Global Vending, to give him the $10,000 machine for free. He was also responsible for getting the Friary on board.
Khaled has received a lot of criticism for the project, with people saying he is encouraging the homeless, rather than helping them to seek sanctuary off the streets. However, Khaled says the opposite is true.
File photo: Homeless and cold.
File photo: Homeless and cold.
Ed Yourdon via Wikimedia
“We could have not put a limit on how many items people could receive, and not built in a system of checks. All of our users in Nottingham have to check-in with the Friary once a week for their cards to continue working,” he said.
A machine is being readied to be installed in Manchester very soon, and plans are already being made to expand across the UK and to New York City in early 2018. Action Hunger plans on having 25-30 machines in use by the end of 2018. In the U.S., two machines will be installed in New York in February, while Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle will follow.
Homelessness is a growing problem in the UK
In the United Kingdom, over 300,000 people, or one in every 200 – are officially recorded as homeless or living in inadequate homes, according to figures released by the charity Shelter, according to [url=http://wwwone in every 200 – are officially recorded as homeless or living in inadequate homes, according to figures released by the charity Shelter, according to The Guardian. This is an increase of 13,000 over the past year.
Spare some change?
Tough Economic Times: A young girl sits on Madison Avenue in Manhattan with a cardboard sign resting against her knee, asking for money from passersby.
File photo
In London, considered Britain's "Homeless Center," one out of every 59 people is considered homeless. Of the top 50 homeless “hotspots" in 2017, 18 were in Greater London, with Newham, where one in 27 residents are homeless, the worst hit.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s shocking to think that today, more than 300,000 people in Britain are waking up homeless. Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy hostel room with their children. And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for."
Neate points out that the public's perception of homelessness is usually focused on people sleeping on the streets, or what is called "rough sleeping," the single leading cause of homelessness (three out of 10 cases) is triggered by a combination of soaring rents and housing benefit cuts. And this is not confined to the UK, folks.
Homelessness in the U.S. is also growing
According to the Associated Press, for the first time since 2010, the nation's population of the homeless has surged, driven by the number of people living on the streets of Los Angeles and other western cities.
A woman pushes her walker past tents housing the homeless in Los Angeles  California on February 9  ...
A woman pushes her walker past tents housing the homeless in Los Angeles, California on February 9, 2016
Frederic J. Brown, AFP
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time count on December 6, showing that nearly 554,000 homeless people were reported across the country during local tallies conducted in January. That figure is up nearly 1 percent from 2016.
Again, as in Britain, the booming west coast economy is being blamed. Rents have soared for workers in the lower income range, where just a few years ago, someplace to live was not too hard to find. Now, most people in this category are just a paycheck or two away from living on the street. And one added point - There is a shortage of affordable housing.
The life of the new charity has grown by leaps and bounds, with organizations from countries like Greece, Spain, Australia, and China all wanting to know more about how to get started. Hopefully, something can be done in the next two months as far as finding funding and someone to run the organization. Khaled takes up a full-time job with Goldman Sachs in February.
More about Vending machine, Homeless youth, Essentials, United Kingdom, Worldwide