16 Days of Action – Ask for Ani + Safe Spaces

29 November 23

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As part of Plymouth Community Homes (PCH) support with the 16 Days Action Against Domestic Abuse campaign, we wanted to share and highlight a scheme which aims to discretely help individuals who are experiencing domestic abuse across the UK.

Ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately) is a codeword scheme that enables victims of domestic abuse to discreetly ask for immediate help in participating pharmacies.

The scheme was developed by the Home Office with the help of partners including the domestic abuse sector, pharmacy associations and the police. It was launched across the UK on 14 January 2021. The scheme is now managed by Hestia’s UK Says No More campaign.

Over half of UK pharmacies, including Boots, Lloyds and community pharmacies, are now enrolled in the scheme. People from across the UK have been supported by pharmacists to access support from the police or domestic abuse service.

When an individual uses the codeword in the pharmacy, a member of staff will take the victim to a private room (‘Safe Space’) where they can help them call the police, domestic abuse helpline or a family member, friend or perhaps even a solicitor. 

The scheme has been very beneficial in supporting people in the time that it has existed, and members of the scheme have spoken out about its success.

Locally, an ‘Ask for Angela’ initiative which was originally launched by Lincolnshire County Council has been rolled out by Devon and Cornwall Police, Best Bar None, L&D Training and the University of Plymouth Students’ Union who have worked together to launch this joint campaign to help people to stay safe while dating in pubs and clubs in Plymouth.

Training has now been provided to local police and bar staff to respond to anyone who asks for ‘Angela’. 

Posters advertising the scheme can be seen in participating venues containing messages such as: “Are you on a date that isn’t working out?” and “Is your Tinder or POF (dating site) date not who they said they were on their profile?”.  People are then advised to go to the bar and ask for Angela where the bar staff will help them get out of the situation discreetly.

Staff will then call a cab, contact a friend or relative to collect them, or ask the individual causing the distress to leave the premises - helping the customer concerned to stay safe.

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