New domestic abuse codeword scheme providing help through pharmacies

Independent pharmacies and Boots stores are now offering a codeword scheme to support victims of domestic abuse.

The scheme means those at risk or suffering from abuse can discreetly signal that they need help and access support by “Asking for ANI” at any of the participating stores.

In response, a trained pharmacy worker will offer to speak to the person in a private space to find out if they need to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines.

Boots stores across Sefton are already signed up to the codeword scheme, and it is expected that more pharmacies will join up in the coming months. Participating pharmacies will display the Ask for ANI posters in their windows so that people know to go inside for immediate help and support.

As essential retailers with specifically-trained staff, located on high streets throughout the country 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.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “We fully support this important Ask for ANI initiative in Sefton’s chemists and pharmacies. Providing a safe space for victims of domestic abuse to disclose their situation and ask for help and support is vitally important, even more so during the current coronavirus lockdown restrictions. We would encourage anyone who is experiencing abuse or in fear of it to come forward. You are not alone.”

Useful contacts

If anyone is at immediate risk of harm from any kind of abuse, the police should be contacted urgently on 999.

Any Sefton resident experiencing domestic abuse, or who believes someone they know is, can contact Sefton Council’s Independent Domestic Violence Advisors Team on 0151 934 5142 or email

People can also contact Sefton Women’s and Children’s Aid on 0151 922 8606 or by visiting

The National Domestic Violence Helpline is staffed 24 hours and can be reached at 0808 2000 247.   

The Sefton Council website sets out more information about its work in partnership with local organisations to support victims, respond to perpetrators and raise awareness amongst our communities of the signs and consequences of domestic and sexual abuse.

Are you experiencing domestic abuse & need immediate help? Ask for ANI at participating pharmacies

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