Providing Safe Spaces in pharmacies for victims of domestic abuse

We are encouraging pharmacies across Great Britain to provide safe spaces for victims of domestic abuse.

June 2020

Last month, we supported the launch of the UK SAYS NO MORE campaign run by Hestia, a national charity. We worked with Hestia and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to ask pharmacies to make their consultation rooms available as safe spaces, where victims of domestic abuse can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice.

We have been pleased to see the very positive response from pharmacies across Great Britain, with over a quarter of pharmacies getting involved so far, including companies such as Boots, Superdrug and Morrisons, as well as independent community pharmacies.

We hope more pharmacies will continue to sign up to support victims of domestic abuse living in their communities, at a time when they may be particularly vulnerable.

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions have seen a dramatic rise in domestic abuse across the UK as victims are forced to isolate with perpetrators. Hestia says it has already seen a 47 percent increase in victims reaching out for information and support on its free domestic abuse app, Bright Sky.

The National Domestic Violence Helpline has also reported a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the lockdown began. While 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experience domestic abuse, the charity is concerned that the figures will be much higher during lockdown and is preparing for an increased demand for refuge spaces once the restrictions start to ease.

Pharmacies are in the frontline in supporting the healthcare needs of patients and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic in the community and are one of the few places that are open to people who may need help.

UK SAYS NO MORE hopes that in making pharmacy consultation rooms safe spaces people will be able find the support they need during this difficult time, when some other options may be temporarily unavailable. Whilst in the consultation room, people will have access to: 

  • 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247  
  • Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
  • Scotland - Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline (freephone 24/7): 0800 027 1234
  • Wales - Live Fear Free Helpline (freephone 24/7): 0808 801 0800 
  • Northern Ireland - 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Abuse: 0808 802 1414
  • Signposting to download free mobile app Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

Ask for Ani 

As of January 2021, Boots pharmacies and a number of independent pharmacies are also offering the government backed domestic abuse Ask for ANI codeword scheme. The scheme will be initially available through the 2,300 Boots stores across the UK as well as 255 independent pharmacies. 

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. 

This new codeword scheme will complement the charity Hestia’s UK SAYS NO MORE Safe Spaces initiative by enabling pharmacy staff to offer immediate and emergency assistance. There is an on-going sign up process open to all pharmacies within the UK. 

For more information visit the campaign website at 

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