BT dials up ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme – with almost 4,000 red phone boxes available for local communities to adopt for just £1

  • Across the UK, more than 6,600 phone boxes have been taken on by communities through BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme

  • From life-saving defibrillators to a mini museum, the opportunities for local phone boxes are endless

BT today revealed that almost 4,000 of its iconic red phone boxes across the UK are up for grabs – as it urges local communities to take advantage of a scheme to help transform them for the 21st Century.

Since 2008, over 6,600 phone boxes have been taken on by communities for just £1 each through BT’s Adopt a Kiosk programme. Redundant 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, a potentially life-saving conversion.

James Browne, Head of Street at BT, 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 across the UK 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.”

From Aberdeen to Plymouth, the Community Heartbeat Trust charity is 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, over 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 Hub units across the country have displayed key advice from Public Health England and local councils. Street Hubs form part of BT’s plan to transform the UK’s high streets with a digital communications service designed for the 21st Century.


Notes to Editors

Adopt a Kiosk Case studies

Patrick Brompton Parish Council – Defibrillator, Richmondshire

A traditional red BT phone box in the North Yorkshire village of Patrick Brompton has been turned into a defibrillator unit, a conversion which could help save lives.

The former payphone, situated centrally in the village, was adopted for just £1 by the parish council through BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme. It now houses a defibrillator which can be used in emergency situations.

Brian Whitehead, vice chairman of Patrick Brompton Parish Council, said: “As a council we were really keen to adopt our red phone box and we didn’t want to see it go.

“It’s a fact that no-one really uses payphones anymore, but they look quite iconic, especially in rural areas like ours, so we wanted to retain it from a heritage perspective.

“The defibrillator we did have in the village was behind the 18th Century school room, so we’ve moved it to the phone box and think it’s a much better place for it. Thankfully, it’s never had to be used but it’s reassuring to know it’s there in case we ever need it in an emergency.”

Book Exchange - Church Lawford Parish Council, Warwickshire 

A book exchange has been created inside a former BT red phone box in a small Warwickshire village.  

The traditional kiosk opposite The Old Smithy pub in Church Lawford, near Rugby, was taken on by the parish council for £1 through BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme. It is now a thriving book exchange which is used by residents young and old alike. People donate books and take away others to read before returning them.  

Jeremy James, chairman of Church Lawford Parish Council, said they had taken inspiration from a nearby village - Stretton under Fosse – where the community adopted their local phone box and turned it into an information booth with details on local history, as well as local walks and footpaths.  

Jeremy added: “We wanted to add the book exchange element as the mobile library only visits briefly once a month, and this aspect has really taken over.  

“I have been pleased by the level of support it gets. Those people that use it appreciate it, and the only real maintenance needed is periodic tidying up of the book supply.  

“At Christmas we installed lights on the green for the first time, powered from the phone box, and we also installed a sound system with carols and songs written about the village during the Covid-lockdown.  

“If another village were considering adopting their phone box, I would say it is very worthwhile.” 

Defibrillator – Orkney Islands, Scotland

A red phone kiosk in the rural Orkney Islands has been transformed into a defibrillator for the local community.

Over the past year, the trust has installed five new community defibrillators across Westray, the locations being the Westray Airfield, Gill Pier Ferry Terminal Waiting Rooms, Westray Parish Kirk, Peter Miller’s Shop and the Rapness Ferry Terminal Waiting Rooms.

The sixth and final defibrillator was installed in the Midbea red telephone kiosk, in Westray’s west side.

The push for the installations came after a series of community first aid training sessions highlighted that there was limited access to defibrillators on the island.

Isobel Thompson, Operations Manager at Westray Development Trust, said: "The red telephone box on the Westside of Westray was an ideal location to install a public access defibrillator as the telephone box was both memorable and already strategically placed. Thanks to BT's 'Adopt a Kiosk' scheme we were able to expand our defibrillator network and improve access to life-saving equipment in an emergency for our isolated island community." 

About Adopt a Kiosk

Communities can adopt a kiosk if they are a recognised public body, such as a parish council, community council or town council. Boxes can also be adopted by registered charities or by individuals who have a payphone on their own land. BT will continue to provide electricity (if already in place) to power the light for adopted phone boxes, free of charge.

For further details on how to apply to Adopt a Kiosk, simply go to www.bt.com/adopt where application forms and information can be found.

About BT

BT Group is the UK’s leading telecommunications and network provider and a leading provider of global communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities in the UK include the provision of fixed voice, mobile, broadband and TV (including Sport) and a range of products and services over converged fixed and mobile networks to consumer, business and public sector customers. For its global customers, BT provides managed services, security and network and IT infrastructure services to support their operations all over the world. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Openreach, which provides access network services to over 650 communications provider customers who sell phone, broadband and Ethernet services to homes and businesses across the UK.

For the year ended 31 March 2020, BT Group’s reported revenue was £22,905m with reported profit before taxation of £2,353m.

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/about