BT have announced that across Scotland, 600 phone boxes are up for grabs, including 31 around the Capital which are waiting to be transformed.
Since 2008, a total of 482 phone boxes across the country have been taken on by communities for just £1 each through BT’s Adopt a Kiosk programme.
The programme means that redundant and forgotten phone boxes, once a lifeline of communication before the arrival of mobile phone networks, have been transformed into everything from defibrillator units and mini history museums to art galleries and book exchanges.
BT will also consider adoption requests to house defibrillators in modern glass phone boxes, which could be a potentially life-saving conversion.
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Alan Lees, BT enterprise unit director for Scotland, said: “With most people now using mobile phones, it’s led to a huge drop in the number of calls made from payphones. At the same time, mobile coverage has improved significantly in recent years due to investment in masts, particularly in rural areas.
“We’re currently rationalising our payphone estate to make it fit for the future, and the ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme makes it possible for local communities in across Scotland to retain their local phone box, with a refreshed purpose for the community.
“Thousands of communities have already come up with a fantastic array of ideas to re-use their beloved local phone box. Applying is quick and easy and we’re always happy to speak to communities about adopting our phone boxes.”
The Community Heartbeat Trust charity is also working with BT and local communities to install lifesaving defibrillators in local kiosks.
Martin Fagan, national secretary for the Community Heartbeat Trust charity, said: “BT’s phone box kiosks are iconic British structures, and repurposing for this life saving use has given them a new lease of life. To date, we have converted about 800 ourselves, with another 200 in the pipeline.
“Placing the equipment in the heart of a community is important to save on time. Kiosks are historically at the centre of the community, and thus great locations for defibrillators.”
As part of plans to modernise its payphone estate, more than 400 payphones across towns and cities have also been upgraded by BT to digital units, called Street Hubs, offering free ultrafast public Wi-Fi, free UK phone calls, USB device charging, environmental monitoring and more.
BT’s Street Hubs also play a vital role in sharing public information, for example during the Covid-19 pandemic Street Hubs have displayed key advice from local councils.
One community organisation that adopted a kiosk last year was the Westray Development Trust in Orkney.
The Trust converted the red phone box into a home for one of the island’s six public access defibrillators after community first aiders highlighted that there was limited access to this life-saving equipment on the island.
Westray Development Trust now gives locals CPR and defibrillator training sessions to equip them with skills and confidence to act in an emergency.