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Pharmacies launch codeword scheme to offer ‘lifeline’ to domestic abuse victims

From today (14 January), victims of domestic abuse will be able to access much needed support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK, backed by the government.

The Ask for ANI scheme allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support. By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand 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.

As an essential retailer based on high streets across the country, and with specifically trained staff, pharmacies can provide a safe space for victims to sound an alarm if they are isolated at home with their abuser and unable to get help in another way.

The codeword scheme will be promoted using discreet social media adverts and paid search. Pharmacies will be given promotional material to display in store to signal to victims that they are participating.  Health professionals, social workers and Job Centres will also be asked to promote the scheme, alongside police, local authorities and specialist support services for victims.

The scheme will be initially available through the 2,300 Boots stores across the UK as well as 255 independent pharmacies. There will be an on-going sign-up process open to all pharmacies.