One of a kind vending machine for the homeless launches in Gloucester

A vending machine for the homeless has been launched by charity, Gloucester City Mission, to provide those sleeping rough with essential items all year round and at any time of the day and night.

The machine, which was supported by a grant from Allchurches Trust, is thought to be the only one in the country and stocks items such as underwear, toiletries, sanitary products, food and blankets. It can only be accessed using tokens which are given out to vulnerable people by other charities and organisations in the area who Gloucester City Mission work closely with.

The Mission, which is based just outside the city centre, is open five days a week, but the machine allows people who are sleeping rough to access vital everyday items 24/7 as well as allowing them independence and anonymity.

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Kevin Howie, Fundraising Coordinator for Gloucester City Mission, said: “We were delighted when Allchurches Trust said it would support the vending machine. We have about 70 clients per week who use our drop-in sessions on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Fridays at the centre.

“Our clients rely on the services that are provided through the centre but we cannot currently open full-time. The vending machine means that people can access food, drinks, underwear, sanitary products and space blankets all year round.”

The charity is also using a portion of their Allchurches grant to fund their next winter night shelter. Last year, the shelter ran from January to March and provided 1077 beds for 106 people. This year, the volunteer-run charity will be opening its winter shelter from December to March and will look to provide beds for an average of 60 sleepers a month.

The Gloucester City Mission centre has an important relationship with the Gloucester NHS homeless healthcare team which is located in the same building. The charity and NHS service work in tandem to make the lives of those sleeping rough better.

In partnership, they provide healthcare, hot meals, washing facilities and community activities such as walking rugby and cooking classes, all under one roof.

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