Somerset pharmacies offer a safe place for victims of domestic abuse

People experiencing domestic abuse are now able to access local support through Somerset pharmacies thanks to a joint local initiative.

Somerset County Council, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Local Pharmaceutical Council have been working with pharmacies across the county to arrange for their consulting rooms to be available as a safe place, where anybody concerned about domestic abuse can go to get information about local domestic abuse support services.

Avon and Somerset Police supported the initiative by tasking their PCSO’s to deliver the literature to pharmacies throughout the county.

The arrangement is running in line with a similar national scheme launched by the charity Hestia which has seen safe places set up in Boots pharmacies across the country.

The project is part of the Council’s continued commitment to finding ways of informing the public that domestic abuse services are, and will continue to be open, during the pandemic, and reaching out to victims of abuse who are facing increased challenges contacting services whilst being forced to self-isolate with their abuser.

Pharmacies and supermarkets are among the few places people can go during the current restrictions, and generally people are encouraged to visit them on their own.  This has therefore generated an ideal opening for anyone who is in an abusive relationship to access help in a safe place away from their abuser.

Some people may be feeling trapped as they self-isolate with an abuser, and it can be difficult or even unsafe to look for information about the help that is available while in the home environment. This scheme gives them an opportunity to explore the possibilities of becoming free from abuse, without the risk of causing them extra harm.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to facilitate this innovative way of opening a channel by which people can get information about contacting our domestic abuse service.

“We have seen an increase in calls to our helpline, but we know that there may be people feeling trapped who are self-isolating with an abuser, it can be difficult and even unsafe to look for information or make contact with the service whilst in the house with the person who is responsible for their abuse. This scheme gives them opportunity to explore the possibilities of becoming free from abuse, without the risk of causing them extra harm.”

If you are concerned about abuse help is available at the Somerset Survivors website or by telephoning 0800 69 49 999.

In an emergency, or if you are being threatened, you should always dial 999. If the situation that you are in means you are unable to speak, dial 999 then 55 to get help when the operator answers.

You can also find other support about domestic abuse at http://www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk. For example; how to recognise the signs of abuse, tips on how to help a friend, family member or work colleague experiencing abuse or how to manage an abusive relationship whilst self-isolating.

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