Boots pharmacies offer ‘safe spaces’ for domestic abuse victims seeking support during lockdown

‘Self-isolation offers a new method of control over victims, making it very difficult for them to seek support,’ charity head states

Sabrina Barr
Friday 01 May 2020 09:04
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Boots is offering “safe spaces” in its pharmacies for victims of domestic abuse seeking help during lockdown.

Since the nation was placed in lockdown on Monday 23 March amid the coronavirus pandemic, it has been reported that cases of domestic abuse in homes have increased.

Reports of domestic abuse sent to UK police forces by Crimestoppers have risen by nearly 50 per cent in the time period, while charity Hestia, which supports adults and children in crisis, has seen a 47 per cent rise in victims using its free domestic abuse support app Bright Sky.

From Friday 1 May, survivors will be able to contact domestic abuse support services in “safe spaces” installed in Boots consultation rooms.

Posters and small shelf cards informing customers that there is a safe space available for domestic abuse support will be placed in around 2,400 Boots stores across the UK.

Furthermore, if anyone asks a Boots pharmacist if they can use a consultation room, they will be able to do so with no further questions asked.

Staff will be provided with information on how to recognise potential victims of domestic abuse.

Lyndsey Dearlove, head of UK Says No More at Hestia, explained that the lockdown and social distancing measures that have been put in place for the foreseeable future are “restricting victims of domestic abuse reaching out to their friends, family and co-workers for support”.

“We know there is an increased level of uncertainty for people looking to escape an abusive relationship,” Ms Dearlove said.

Self-isolation offers a new method of control over victims, making it very difficult for them to seek support.”

Ms Dearlove said that Hestia recognises that “key workers in pharmacies hold a unique position within the community as a single point of contact for victims”.

“By creating this safe space in Boots pharmacies, we hope many will be able to safely access support whilst following government guidelines.”

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Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots UK, said that the pharmacy chain’s stores have taken on “increased importance” as a “place of safety for those who need one”.

“We hope that making our consultation rooms safe spaces we can help people find the support they need at this difficult time, when many other options are temporarily unavailable,” Mr Donovan said.

Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said that in the current climate, “pharmacies can provide the safe environment needed to get support” when options are limited for survivors of domestic abuse.

“The trust that the public have in pharmaces make them an ideal place to access help and take a step away from harm towards a better future,” Ms Gidley said.

“The RPS fully supports the UK Says No More campaign and would encourage other pharmacies to take part and become a safe space for those experiencing domestic abuse.”

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

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