Northumberland phone box transformed into donations hub for struggling residents

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A Seahouses phone box has been turned into a share centre in a novel attempt to support struggling residents.

Local businesswoman Rachel Douglas secured permission from BT to turn it into a temporary home for donations of food and other household goods.

She said: “I came up with the idea after reading about an old post box in the Scottish highlands which was being used for something similar.

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“I started asking around the local community and a lot of people seemed to think it was a good idea so I emailed BT about using the phone box next to the TIC and they were absolutely brilliant in giving us temporary permission.”

A Seahouses phone box has been turned into a centre for food and household goods.A Seahouses phone box has been turned into a centre for food and household goods.
A Seahouses phone box has been turned into a centre for food and household goods. | Other 3rd Party

Rachel, who would normally be busy running her tourism-related businesses at this time of year, added: “It’s been running three days now and I think it’s going to work.

“I’ve been monitoring it four times a day and have seen new stuff being donated and other things being taken, like fabric softener and coffee.

“Of course it involves a lot of trust. I’m not sure if would work quite as well in other parts of the country but I hope a relatively small and rural community like Seahouses will support it.

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“I know the village gets support from local food banks but I hope this will complement their efforts. There are people who are too proud to go to a food bank and say they need help.”

The Seahouses phone box.The Seahouses phone box.
The Seahouses phone box. | Other 3rd Party

The scheme has received a lot of positive feedback on social media but concerns have also been raised about hygiene and potential health risks.

Rachel assured: “It is being closely monitored, if there is any abuse of the idea or increased risk of cross contamination it will be removed immediately.

“There’s anti-bac spray and wipes so people can wipe down goods and we’ve put things like toiletries and books on the lower level with food items higher up.”

And the phone is still in working order.

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Seahouses village foodshare.Seahouses village foodshare.
Seahouses village foodshare. | Other 3rd Party

She hopes other local communities will be inspired to try something similar.

Mutual Aid Alnwick is one group exploring the idea and has already received permission to use the phone box outside Dorothy Perkins.

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BT's letter of approval.BT's letter of approval.
BT's letter of approval. | Other 3rd Party

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