Victims of domestic abuse are being urged to use the code ‘Ask Ani’ at a number of pharmacies across Norfolk by the police, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, councils and health organisations to enable them to get access to help.
The Ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately) scheme was launched by the Home Office earlier this month to allow those suffering from abuse to discreetly signal they need help and support at a time where many victims are isolated at home with little opportunity to go out and access services.
The scheme has so far been adopted by all 2,300 Boots stores across the UK and includes stores across Norfolk (see full current list attached) and is growing in momentum with independent pharmacies signing up.
The Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Group in Norfolk (DASVG), which involves Norfolk Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN), councils and health organisations, is encouraging anyone who may be struggling to access support during lockdown to Ask for Ani – pronounced Annie – at participating pharmacies.
Gavin Thompson, Chair of the DASVG, said: “Home should be a place where people feel the safest particularly in the current climate.
“However, we know the lockdown restrictions caused by the pandemic can be very difficult for those affected by domestic abuse.
“It is vital we do all we can to ensure those who need immediate help and support are able to access it in a way which doesn’t put them at further risk.
“We welcome the introduction of this scheme and hope as many pharmacies as possible across Norfolk will take part – we must do all we can to protect those for whom home is not a safe space.”
Andy Coller, head of safeguarding for Norfolk Constabulary and Vice-Chair of the DASVG, said that the police are prepared for the Ask Ani calls coming in through the pharmacy network.
He added: “Throughout the pandemic we have worked with partners to reach out to victims of domestic abuse and have promoted various ways to get in touch with support services. Ask Ani provides another opportunity for victims of this terrible crime to seek help.”
Participating pharmacies of the scheme, which went live on January 14, will be displaying Ask Ani posters in their windows. When someone uses the code words, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can speak freely and contact the police or get access to support services or a domestic abuse helpline.
The Ask for ANI scheme is part of the national #YouAreNotAlone campaign, launched by the government, and supports local partnership campaigns, such as the See Something, Hear Something, Say Something initiative launched by partners in Norfolk, to help those affected by abuse to get help during lockdown. As part of the campaign the DASVG funded the roll out of 300,000 stickers for pharmacy prescription bags to signpost victims of abuse to help and support.
To find out more:
You can visit the Home Office website: www.GOV.UK/domestic-abuse.
For information on how to adopt the Ask for ANI scheme, go to: www.gov.uk/homeoffice/pharmacy-codeword-scheme.
Ask for ANI is available at Boots pharmacies across the county. Please visit the Boots website to find your nearest store.How to get help:
If you need to speak to someone about domestic abuse then please call 999 in an emergency or to make a report to police, call 101.
Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care offer a 24hr support line for immediate emotional and practical support for all victims of crime. Call 0300 303 3706.
For more information on help numbers for organisations and charities that can offer tailored DA support visit the Norfolk Police , Norfolk County Council or OPCCN websites for more help.