Let’s begin 2018 with the positive energy of EVOCA at the heart of an inspiring story…
They say that anyone can make a difference, and here’s a heart-warming story that proves the point…
A young law student called Khaled became friendly with some homeless people who lived in a British railway station. He stopped, talked to them, gave them coffee and listened to their stories. It didn’t take long for him to understand how difficult it was for them to attend to their basic needs: a hot coffee, a nourishing lunch, a tooth brush,… those everyday necessities.
It’s not always easy to find these things in homeless shelters. The shelters have limited opening hours, so people have to structure their days around these moments and often, they find themselves in long, time-consuming queues. Consequently, keeping a stable job or maintaining contact with family is frequently an issue.
Khaled wanted to help. He had a great idea: why not install a vending machine for the homeless; a vending machine that was active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; where homeless people could access free clothing, food, and other essentials at their convenience? It was easier said than done… Khaled contacted more than 50 companies in the UK and Europe but he encountered rejection and indifference. And so, 2 years went by.
Then Khaled, now a post-graduate and Head of a charity called Action Hunger, received a letter inviting him to present his idea to an well-known Italian manufacturer of vending machines… They immediately hit it off and the company presented Action Hunger with its first vending machine, worth £10,000.
Vending that changes lives
It was the world’s first vending machine dedicated to the needs of the homeless and it was launched this month in a shopping mall in the UK city of Nottingham. It dispenses water, fresh fruit; energy bars, crisps and sandwiches – as well as socks, toothpaste, tooth brushes and books. Via a smart-card, homeless people can now avail themselves of 3 items, free of charge, every day.
A journey has begun: in February a similar machine will be installed in New York, followed by San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles. Khaled hopes that the Action Hunger vending machines are an important step towards solving a difficult social problem and what’s more, research is now being carried out to find a way to harness the benefits of vendig machines to help in the mission of helping the homeless rise out of poverty.
We’re enormously proud and happy that it was us that reached out to Khaled and wrote that letter to him. We still have a copy of the letter in the office. For us, it represents innovation; because it gives vending a new meaning, whilst embracing its fundamental benefits: accessibility, flexibility and choice.
Happy 2018 everyone. Let’s continue to make the world of vending evolve. Together, let’s write more wonderful stories.