A vending machine stocked with essentials such as food and clean clothing has been launched in the UK.
The machine, at Intu shopping centre in Nottingham, was launched by Action Hunger, a new charity.
Much of the fresh food comes from supermarkets and other organisations that are looking to reduce food waste.
Along with crisps, chocolate, sandwiches, water, fresh fruit and energy bars, the Action Hunger machine also stocks socks, antibacterial lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste packs, sanitary towels and books.
The vending machines will only be accessible to homeless people who have been given a keycard by the local authority.
The keycards are programmed to permit up to three items being dispensed per day.
1. Food is received from supermarkets, charities, local shops with excess produce. We also purchase additional items such as socks and sanitary towels. pic.twitter.com/o1VRh9atBo— Action Hunger (@_actionhunger) November 25, 2017
“The measure is designed to prevent singular dependency on our machines – we want our low-cost solution to complement other services that are available, as engagement with professionals and local support services is instrumental to breaking the cycle of homelessness,” the charity said.
Although the charity accepts it will not take people off the streets, it believes the machine will help homeless people in their time of need.
The machine is currently unique to Nottingham, but there are plans for over 100 more for cities such as Manchester and London.
One of the trustees of Action Hunger, Halimah Gulzar Khaled, said: “This now means homeless people have access to food 24 hours a day.
“If they are hungry or needing a pair of socks or feeling cold, there’s a place there that they can go to.
“It’s not going to take people off the streets because it’s only giving food or small items three times a day, but it will help them while they are going through this phase of their life.
“That’s why it is limited to three items a day, because it is just for their needs.”
Lee Crowden, 43, who has been homeless for three and a half months, said: “It will give you a service in the middle of the night or the early hours of the morning.
“It’s a good idea, it’s one of the best things to happen in this city.
“People only get access to the card two weeks at a time so it’s not like they are going to get free access to the card.”