With the rise in mobile phone use over recent years payphones have almost become obsolete. Across Britain there are lots of old red phoneboxes that no longer contain payphones, but are finding new leases of life.
The one below, near Blairgowrie in Perthshire, acts as an information point and book exchange.
If you happen to live near an old phonebox that’s no longer needed as a payphone, you can apply to BT (British Telecom, who own the phoneboxes) and request adoption of the box. They’re particularly keen to hear from local people who have interesting ideas for new uses. Some of their phoneboxes have already been turned into art galleries, coffee outlets, shoe shine stands and greenhouses, as well as libraries and information kiosks.
In conjunction with the Community Heartbeat Trust, a number of communities across the UK have turned their local phoneboxes into mini medical centres by installing defibrillators inside them. Not only are the defibrillators easily accessible by anyone at any time, but they’re well protected in weatherproof locations.
One example can be found next to the Pier Cafe at Stronachlachar by Loch Katrine in the Trossachs.
Stronachlachar is quite an out of the way place, but it’s popular with walkers and visitors to the Trossachs National Park.
One of the disadvantages of suffering a cardiac arrest there would be the time it would take for an ambulance to arrive. To reach Stronachlachar by car requires a drive of several miles along a badly pot-holed road, and the nearest ambulance station is more than 20 miles away. Other ways of getting there are by boat up Loch Katrine, on foot across the hills, or by helicopter (there is an air ambulance service covering the Park, but the chances of a helicopter arriving very quickly are slim, I would reckon). In such circumstances, a defibrillator might just mean the difference between life and death.
There are more than 80 old red phoneboxes across the UK now housing defibrillators, some of which have already been used to save lives. Training is given to local volunteers
but since all defibrillators carry clear instructions for use, anyone can make use of them in an emergency.