Victims of domestic abuse will be able to access safe spaces at Boots pharmacy consultation rooms across the country, where they can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice. The scheme is in response to the desperate situation facing many victims who are isolating with perpetrators during lockdown.
Domestic Abuse Charity, 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. 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, making access to support critical.
Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of the UK SAYS NO MORE Campaign at Hestia said:
“While lockdown and social distancing measures continue, it is 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. Self-isolation offers a new method of control over victims, making it very difficult for them to seek support.
We recognise 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 while following Government guidelines. We hope more pharmacies will follow Boots UK’s lead and join the Safe Space initiative. Although we are in a period of lockdown and isolation, our message to victims is that domestic abuse services are open and we can help you.”
Marc Donovan, Chief Pharmacist, Boots UK said:
“Our pharmacies have long been a place that people can turn to for help and advice on their local high street. At times like these, our 2,400 stores in communities across the UK take on increased importance, as a place of safety for those who need one. We hope that by 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. This is something our pharmacy teams feel very passionately about and we would like to thank them for stepping forward to help at a time when they are under tremendous pressure.”
Sara*, a survivor of domestic abuse who lived in a Hestia domestic abuse refuge, said:
“Women or men who are now ‘forced’ indoors with an abusive partner or family member really need a ‘safe haven’ where they can retreat to, collect their thoughts, and get support. Sometimes getting out of that bubble of abuse, which you are in at home, helps you realise that support is out there. It also gives you a little bit of hope and confidence to take a step towards helping yourself.
An abuser wouldn’t think that their victim could access help at the local pharmacy or be able to have a moment in a place like that. So being able to contact a domestic violence helpline in this way will be life-changing for many.”
While in the consultation room, people will have access to Northern Ireland’s 24hr Domestic & Sexual Abuse: 0808 802 1414