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Government partners with Boots and pharmacies to launch abuse codeword scheme

Gaelle Walker
20 January 2021

The government has teamed up with Boots and independent pharmacies across the UK to launch a new codeword scheme designed to support the victims of domestic abuse.

The Ask for ANI scheme allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support when visiting an in-store pharmacy.

When asked for ANI, trained workers 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.

The scheme will be initially available through 2,300 Boots stores as well as 255 independent pharmacies, with an ongoing sign up process open to all pharmacies.

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.

The Prime Minister committed to launch the scheme at the Hidden Harms summit last year in recognition of the impact of Covid restrictions on the ability of victims to reach out for help and support.

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."

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."



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