Transform your local phone boxes into defibrillators, book kiosks and more

  • 169 of BT's red phone boxes across Northern Ireland are up for grabs, as the telecoms firm urges local communities to take advantage of a scheme to help transform them.

    Over 6,600 redundant booths across the UK have already been turned into everything from defibrillator units and mini history museums, to art galleries and book exchanges through BT's Adopt a Kiosk initiative.

    BT will also consider adoption requests to house life-saving defibrillators in modern glass phone boxes.

    Paul Murnaghan, Regional Director for BT’s Enterprise business in Northern Ireland, 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.

    “The ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme makes it possible for local communities in Northern Ireland to retain their local phone box, with a refreshed purpose for the community.

    “I would encourage communities across Northern Ireland to take advantage of this opportunity and give their local beloved phone box a new lease of life – the possibilities are endless. Applying is quick and easy and we’re always happy to speak to communities about adopting our phone boxes.”

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    The Community Heartbeat Trust charity is working with BT and local communities across the UK to install defibrillators in local kiosks.

    Martin Fagan, National Secretary for the Community Heartbeat Trust charity, added: “BT’s phone box kiosks are iconic 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, including in Northern Ireland.

    “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.”

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    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 public Wi-Fi, free UK phone calls, USB device charging and environmental monitoring.

    Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic Street Hub units have displayed public health advice from local councils and they form part of BT’s plan to transform the UK’s high streets with a modern digital communications service.

    At the time of publication, these are the red kiosks left to adopt per district/local area in Northern Ireland:

    • Antrim and Newtownabbey - 5
    • Ards and North Down - 7
    • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon - 23
    • Belfast City - 3
    • Causeway Coast and Glens - 25
    • Derry / Londonderry City and Strabane - 5
    • Fermanagh and Omagh - 36
    • Lisburn and Castlereagh - 8
    • Mid and East Antrim -13
    • Mid Ulster - 24
    • Newry, Mourne and Down -20

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    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, go to where application forms and information can be found.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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