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Boots marks one year since launching codeword scheme for domestic abuse victims

14 January 2022
News Healthcare
  • Home Secretary Priti Patel visited Boots Piccadilly Circus to talk to pharmacists about how the Ask for ANI scheme has been a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse
  • A year since its launch, the scheme is now available at over 2,200 Boots stores across the UK
  • Boots UK encourages other pharmacies to sign up to the scheme

Today marks one year since Boots launched the Ask for ANI scheme in partnership with the Home Office. Yesterday, Home Secretary Priti Patel visited the Boots store at Piccadilly Circus to speak to pharmacists about how they have been able to help victims of domestic abuse access vital support through the scheme.

Ask for ANI allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support. ANI is a codeword for Action Needed Immediately. By asking for ANI a trained pharmacy team member will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines. The scheme has been introduced to complement the Safe Spaces initiative by the crisis charity Hestia and their UK Says No More campaign.

The scheme is now available at over 2,200 Boots stores as well as other community pharmacies. In the 2020-21 financial year, Boots trained over 19,500 pharmacy team members as part of their support for the Home Office Ask for ANI scheme and all new pharmacy team members are given Ask for ANI training.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Any form of domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime and this government is both increasing support for victims and ensuring that perpetrators feel the full force of the law. Today I want to thank Boots and all the other pharmacies up and down the country which have been involved in the Ask for ANI scheme during its successful first year. The scheme is a great example of government, businesses and charities working together and has provided vital assistance to numerous victims of domestic abuse in all four corners of the UK.”

Boots Chief Pharmacist Marc Donovan said: “Boots pharmacies have long been a place where people can turn to for help and advice on their local high street. The Ask for ANI scheme offers a real lifeline to people who feel in danger at home and has enabled our pharmacy teams to provide discreet support to them. We are very proud to work with the Home Office on this important initiative and encourage other pharmacies to get involved too.”

Boots Piccadilly Circus Pharmacist Bina Mehta said: “I am very passionate about this scheme and the training that I have had as part of it has really helped. I find it rewarding to know that I’ve been equipped to help people in their hour of need and able to help keep my patients safe. Some people that have come into the pharmacy to Ask for ANI have been very emotionally distressed and thanks to this scheme I am able to make them feel calm and safe and get them the support they need.”

Hestia Chief Executive Patrick Ryan said: “We know from our work supporting victims of domestic abuse that during the pandemic, home has not been a safe place for them, with abuse escalating and support networks cut off.  It is vital that victims of domestic abuse know that they are not alone. With Safe Spaces and ANI now running in over half of all UK pharmacies, anyone enduring domestic abuse can access specialist support discretely on their local high streets. The success of these initiatives has shown the critical role that businesses and communities can play in breaking the silence around domestic abuse. As restrictions ease, we hope to continue building partnerships to ensure every victim can get the support they need.”


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and 2,100 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 30 November 2023