The new scheme, entitled ‘Ask for ANI’, 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 ascertain further information.
Depending on the situation, the staff member can then alert the Police or help the victim access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helpline.
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 Prime Minister committed to launching this scheme at the Hidden Harms summit last year in recognition of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the ability of victims to reach out for help and support. The scheme was initially proposed by survivors as something that would have helped them.
Boris Johnson has 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 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. More pharmacies are expected to join the scheme.