Victims of domestic abuse can get support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK.
If someone asks for ‘Ani’ at one of the participating pharmacies they will be offered a private space where the trained staff member can check if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines.
Pharmacies can provide a safe space for victims to discreetly sound an alarm if they are isolated at home with their abuser and unable to get help in another way.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “As we once again have to ask people across the country to stay at home to tackle this virus, it’s vital that we take action to protect those for who home is not a safe space.
“That is why we have launched this scheme, supported by pharmacies up and down the country, to give some of the most vulnerable people in society a critical lifeline – making sure they have access to the support they need and keep them safe from harm.”
The codeword scheme will be promoted using discreet social media adverts and paid search. Pharmacies will be given promotional materials to signal to victims that they are participating.
The scheme will be initially available through the 2,300 Boots stores across the UK as well as 255 independent pharmacies. There is an on-going sign-up process open to all pharmacies.
🗣️ If you are a victim of domestic abuse you can now access support safely and discreetly at locations across the UK. We’ve teamed up with @BootsUK & independent pharmacies to launch Ask for Ani, a domestic abuse codeword scheme #YouAreNotAlone
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) January 14, 2021
Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said: “I know that lockdown restrictions are especially difficult for those experiencing domestic abuse. Home should be a safe place, but for those confined with an abuser it is clearly not. The codeword scheme will offer a lifeline to all victims, ensuring they get urgent help in a safe and discreet way.”
Boots UK Chief Pharmacist, Marc Donovan said: “With over 170 years at the heart of community care, Boots pharmacies have long been a place where people can turn to for help and advice on their local high street. Since the start of the pandemic, our 2,300 stores in communities across the UK have taken on increased importance as a place of safety for those who need one.
“In addition to the designated Safe Spaces in our pharmacies, we hope with the new codeword scheme we can continue to help people access the support they need quickly, safely and discreetly.
“This is something our pharmacy teams feel very passionately about, and we are proud of their continued dedication supporting those in need at a time of such extraordinary challenge.”
If you are a pharmacy who wants to take part you can register here.