Charities roll out digital helpline hubs on UK streets

Free digital access enables people to contact charities and helpful information.

James Hayes | 11th May 18
Image showing digital charity helplines launched by InLink on UK streets.

BT has joined forces with four charities to offer free contact ‘lifelines’ to people in need on UK streets.

InLinks, the digital street units that offer the service, will now feature four charities on their tablet touchscreens: Childline, End Youth Homelessness, Runaway Helpline and Samaritans. Anyone who wants to contact one of the charities for information and/or support can connect to them by phone by touching the appropriate organisation’s icon as displayed.

The InLinks’ range of free services include Wi-Fi, calls to UK landlines and mobiles, and mobile device charging. It also includes provision of digital information including maps, directions, council services, and the BT Phone Book. InLinksUK rollout has to date seen more than 145 InLinks units installed in eight London boroughs, as well as in Leeds city centre. ‘Hundreds’ more are due to be installed at other locations across the UK, said BT.

The scheme is the result of a partnership between BT and tech start-up InLinkUK. Since the first InLink unit was installed in June 2017, more than 66,000 people have subscribed to its Wi-Fi service, more than 419,000 free calls have been made, and there upwards of 356,000 sessions have taken place using the tablet, the companies report.

“With the one-touch icons on InLinks, we saw an opportunity to help these four charities – charities that make a huge difference to so many people’s lives,” said Nick Hale, Managing Director at BT Ventures. “The InLinks’ free services have proved a hit, and this underlines our commitment that InLinks should play a positive role in local communities – just as the iconic red telephone box did in the 20th Century.”

“When we started this project, we wanted to make a difference in the communities we operate in. Connectivity is a big part of that and one of the reasons we offer Wi-Fi and phone calls for free,” said Matt Bird, General Manager at InLinkUK. “By working with these key charities to develop the new charity ‘tile’ on the tablets, accessible to anyone in need, we are continuing to use our InLink product to connect communities.”