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Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins has launched the Ask for ANI codeword scheme, which allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support, on Thursday.
:speaking_head:️ If you are a victim of domestic abuse you can now access support safely and discreetly at locations across the UK. We've teamed up with @BootsUK & independent pharmacies to launch Ask for Ani, a domestic abuse codeword scheme #YouAreNotAlone
More here: https://t.co/tNgsAkRjGN pic.twitter.com/vi9TIqCbUb
- Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) January 14, 2021
By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker can then offer a private space where they can talk to the victim if they need help, or to speak to police.
The scheme can also help victims access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who committed to launch this scheme at the Hidden Harms summit last year, said of Ask for ANI: "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 in a discreet way on social media, and pharmacies will have brochures and leaflets on display to signal to people they are taking part in the scheme.
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, in addition to 255 independent pharmacies.
Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said: "I know that lockdown restrictions are especially difficult for those experiencing domestic abuse. Home should be a safe place, but for those confined with an abuser it is clearly not.
"The codeword scheme will offer a lifeline to all victims, ensuring they get urgent help in a safe and discreet way.
Throughout this pandemic this Government has invested millions in ensuring that vital services including helplines, counselling and refuge accommodation remains accessible during this challenging period."
A Panorama investigation found domestic abuse surged in lockdown. Two-thirds of women in abusive relationships have suffered more violence from their partners during the pandemic, while three-quarters of victims also say the lockdown has made it harder for them to escape their abusers.
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