Community Pharmacy involvement in Ask for ANI scheme hailed as a success

A year ago, community pharmacies were encouraged to get involved with the Ask for ANI (Assistance Needed Immediately) scheme that helps to provide a safe way for victims of domestic abuse to access support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.

Over the weekend, the Home Office confirmed the success of the scheme and urged more pharmacies to get involved. Over 50% of community pharmacies now provide the Ask for ANI scheme and during the first year at least 100 victims were supported in an emergency.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said:

‘’…The Ask for ANI scheme has had a successful first year and is a great example of government, businesses and charities working together to provide vital support to victims. I urge all pharmacies to get on board with the scheme as we look to expand it and explore other spaces that could be used for the same purpose…’’

What is Ask for ANI?

Victims are able to use the codeword ANI in pharmacies to let staff know that they require an emergency police response or help contacting a helpline or specialist support service. Participating pharmacies will display posters in their window and around the shop to let customers know that they can approach their staff to seek help.

How does it work?

When a person uses the codeword or asks for help, the member of staff asks the person to accompany them to the consultation room. The staff member will then check whether the person is in danger and wants the police to be called. If so, the staff member will offer the use of a phone to dial 999 or make the call on the victim’s behalf.

In some cases, the person may not need emergency help and the staff member will assist them to contact a national domestic abuse helpline or local support service. They may also contact the police via 101.

Safe Spaces scheme

The Safe Spaces scheme, which is run by Hestia, is a similar scheme that supports pharmacies to support victims of domestic abuse by providing a safe space, such as the consultation room, for that person to seek guidance and advice from specialist domestic abuse support information (downloaded and provided by the pharmacy), or to make a call or access the app Bright Sky safely.

Getting involved

Any pharmacies who wish to get involved are asked to complete an online form to confirm their decision to provide the scheme, and to ensure that all staff watch the training animation and read the guidance.

Training and promotional materials are available from: Ask for ANI domestic abuse codeword scheme and Ask for ANI and Safe Spaces schemes.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Home Office at:

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