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Supporting Victims of Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault

Safe Spaces & Ask for ANI

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Boots enabled victims of domestic abuse to access Safe Spaces in Boots pharmacy consultation rooms across the country. For those victims isolating with their perpetrators, these Safe Spaces offered an essential lifeline and enabled them to contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice. With pharmacies being one of the few places that remained open throughout all of the lockdowns, Boots was ideally placed to support.

Building on this, the government has developed the Ask for ANI scheme: ANI being an acronym for ‘Action Needed Immediately’. Ask for ANI was developed to provide a way for those experiencing domestic abuse to receive immediate help from the safety of their local pharmacy. 

Safe Spaces already enables victims of domestic abuse to access information and contact specialist services in a quiet and private space in their local high street. Where a victim needs immediate, emergency assistance, Ask for ANI provides a way for victims to discreetly tell pharmacy staff that they need their help to either call the police on 999 or contact specialist services. 

SARCs (Sexual Assault Referral Centres) Washbags

Since 2017, Boots UK has also supported victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault through the SARCs washbag project. The initiative was launched by The Duchess of Cornwall after Her Royal Highness had heard personal accounts from survivors of rape and sexual assault. 

We have been working closely with representatives from the Royal Household of Clarence House to support the project by providing Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) with wash bags containing toiletries, which survivors can use following forensic examination. The bags act as a small gesture of support and comfort at what is a very traumatic time. Since the launch, over 35,000 bags have been provided to SARCs across the UK and more than 150 team members have volunteered their time. 

“I chose to support SARCs because the person receiving those washbags will have faced unimaginable trauma, and I wanted to be able to do something that would help them, even if only a little bit. Knowing the team and I were helping others in need made the whole experience humbling.” - Amy Cookson, Franchise Finance Assistant, Boots UK

In July 2020, The Duchess of Cornwall visited the team at Boots Piccadilly Circus to discuss Boots UK’s Safe Spaces initiative and SARCs washbags project, as well as to thank team members for their efforts throughout the pandemic.