TWO phone boxes have been given a new lease of life – as charity mini-cafés.
The boxes next to the entrance to Pavilion Gardens in Brighton’s New Road have been stripped of their phones and had a coffee machine and ice cream dispenser fitted.
Steve Beeken and Edward Ottewell, of Brighton-based charitable trust Thinking Outside the Box, back the scheme which will give 10 per cent of proceeds to charity.
Speaking at the opening, Mr Ottewell said: “We started with the idea two and a half years ago so we are excited to finally be opening.
“Not only does it mean we can maintain the red phone boxes but we are helping out a local good cause as well.”
The pair have also been given consent to open a similar mini-café kiosk in two red phone boxes at the bottom of Palace Pier.
They are waiting on planning permission for sites in Nottingham, Leicester, Plymouth and London.
Mr Ottewell said that within five years they hoped to open 300 similar kiosks.
In every town or city they set up in 10 per cent of the profits will go to charity.
In Brighton the pair have chosen to support homeless charity Friends First.
Charmine Crisp, from the charity, of Clarendon Villas, said: “We are delighted to have been approached.
“Not only will it provide much needed funding but there are also training and experience opportunities for people we work with.”
The Palace Pier boxes are expected to sell souvenirs as well as refreshments, while a box planned in Westminster will have a shoe shine.
Miles Broe, from Brighton-based Miles Broe Architects, was at yesterday’s official opening.
He said: “There are hundreds of boxes needing maintenance which are also being targeted by vandals.
“To have them occupied and running as a business they will be maintained for a good cause.”
Mark Johnson, BT’s head of payphone operations, said: “We have been behind this from the start.
“The red boxes are our heritage. Everyone associates the red phone box with Britain and this scheme is ensuring they remain.
“Not only that but it is also helping out worthy local causes.”
Mr Johnson said there are still 9,500 operating red boxes around the country but 71 per cent are losing money.