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July 14, 2023

Innovative vending machine launched to distribute free condoms at the University of Essex

Essex Sexual Health Service is trialling a vending machine which will dispense free condoms to 16 to 24-year-olds.

The vending machine has initially been launched in the University of Essex, to give young people access to free condoms under the eC-Card scheme. This is the first phase of a plan to install vending machines in several key educational institutes across the county.

“We’re excited to be trialling this vending machine in an important University location in Essex. It’s a great way of helping young people make safe choices during their time at Uni” says Kez Spelman, Director of Innovation and Community Resilience, for Provide Community.

Placed in a communal area to be highly visible, the vending machine will be free to use for anyone between the ages of 16 – 24, helping combat the availability and cost issues young people often report as barriers to a safer sexual health.

The vending machine was co-created by Provide Digital and Essex Sexual Health Service who manage the eC-Card, an app which allows young people to collect discreetly-packaged condoms and lube from pickup points across Essex.

Essex Sexual Health Service has clinics across the county, in which they provide a range of sexual health services from contraception to STI testing. The service also provides information and advice on trending sexual health and wellbeing topics, from STI prevention to Chemsex.

Provide Digital develop user-friendly healthcare apps such as the eC-Card, Bed Bureau and Provide My Experience.
“The vending machine is a great way of helping students and young people make informed and empowered choices” says Paul Twyman, Managing Director at Provide Digital.

As part of Essex Sexual Health Service’s new contract with Essex County Council, this is the first of many steps to deliver support young people’s sexual health.
With the aim of delivering more vending machines, to support their eC-Card scheme, it will be great to see how these perform.

“Especially with young people, making good choices and knowing about sexual health is increasingly important. We’re excited to see if the vending machine proves popular so we can potentially roll more out across the county” states Kez.

More information about the scheme can be found on the eC-Card website: https://ec-card.org.uk/ or find out more at www.eshs.org.uk

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