Over 100 pharmacies in Wales have signed up to support victims of domestic abuse, as part of a new codeword scheme launched by the UK Government.

The initiative is currently taking place in 116 pharmacies in Wales, including 15 independents and 101 Boots stores, conservative MP Victoria Atkins confirmed in response to a written question in parliament.

Ms Atkins added: ‘There is an on-going sign-up process open to all pharmacies to join the scheme, so the total number of pharmacies involved in the scheme is increasing each week.’

By asking for ‘ANI’ (action needed immediately) at any one of these 116 pharmacies, people at risk of or suffering from abuse at home will be able to discreetly receive help from a trained pharmacy worker.

Victims of domestic abuse will be offered the chance to speak to police or support services from the safety of a private area in the pharmacy.

The codeword scheme has been introduced nationally as a response to the impact of national lockdown restrictions on the ability of victims to reach out for help and support.

Judy Thomas, director of contractor services at Community Pharmacy Wales, said: ‘Community Pharmacy Wales is fully in support of the Ask for ANI campaign and discussed Welsh community pharmacy involvement with the Home Office.

‘We believe that this innovative service once more demonstrates the value of community pharmacies to the communities they serve, making our network a trusted and safe space in many ways.’

Jane Hutt, the deputy minister and chief whip: 'I want to thank pharmacies right across Wales, for their ongoing support and commitment to victims of abuse.

'It’s humbling to see so many support our ‘Home Shouldn’t be a place of Fear’ campaign as well as the Home Office ‘Ask for Ani’ code word scheme, which was launched earlier this month to support victims throughout the pandemic.

It’s vitally important that we ensure that everyone across Wales can access the help and support that is available.'

The programme is voluntary and as of 15 January, 2,555 UK pharmacies had signed up.