Victims of domestic abuse can now access much needed help and support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK. During lockdown, victims may become more isolated making it more difficult to reach out for help.
The Ask for ANI (Assistance Needed Immediately) scheme, which was launched by Home Office, allows those who are at risk or suffering from domestic abuse to discreetly signal that they need help by asking for ANI at local pharmacy. A trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can find out whether the victims needs to speak to the police or access support services, such as local domestic abuse helplines. If the victim is in danger, the staff member will offer the use of a phone to dial 999 or call on the victim’s behalf.
As pharmacies are an essential retailer based on many high streets and in communities across the country, with specially trained staff, they can provide a safe space for victims during lockdown who otherwise may not be able to leave home or get help in any other ways if they are isolated with their abuser.
Participating pharmacies will display promotional material in store to signal that they are participating in the scheme and that their staff will know what to do should a customer use the code word. Any information shared will be treated confidentially.
The scheme will initially be available through Boots stores across the UK as well as some independent pharmacies but there is an ongoing sign up process open to all pharmacies. There is also a list of participating stores in North Wales below.