COMMUNITY groups and charities are being encouraged to adopt iconic red phone boxes and do something wonderful with them during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 6,000 phone boxes have been adopted since BT set up its Adopt a Kiosk scheme in 2008. There are still more than 200 available for adoption, for £1 each, across the north west.

Elsewhere during lockdown, communities have lit up their phone boxes blue and installed an NHS-themed stained-glass window to pay tribute to the health service. Another has become a donation point for items for the local foodbank. Non-perishable foods are left there and volunteers collect them once a week.

BT will continue to provide electricity, if it is already in place, to power the light for adopted phone boxes, free of charge. Where electricity is available, adopted boxes can be used to house defibrillators.

Sarah Walker, BT Enterprise unit director for the north of England, said: "We’ve seen some amazing transformations of our phone boxes by communities who’ve adopted our iconic red payphones during the coronavirus pandemic.

"With more than 6,250 payphones already adopted across the UK, the scheme has proved to be really popular and there are still plenty of kiosks available should communities want to preserve them.

"The opportunities for communities are endless and we’re pleased to be giving even more local communities the chance to get involved. Applying is quick and easy and we’re always happy to speak to communities about adopting our traditional BT red phone boxes.”

Communities can adopt a kiosk if they are a recognised public body – a parish council, community council or town council. Charities or by individuals with a payphone on their own land can also adopt phone boxes.

In the past decade, calls made from public telephones have fallen by about 90 per cent as most people now own mobile phones.