Pharmacy staff are no being trained in helping domestic abuse victims.

Domestic abuse victims in Cumbria can now discretely seek help from pharmacy staff taking part in a new scheme - by “asking for Ani”.

Staff at the participating pharmacies are trained on the next steps to take.

Boots stores across the county are taking part and other participating pharmacies will display posters to show they are also available to help – with the scheme being rolled out across Cumbria.

All the person who feels at risk needs to do is go to a staff member and ask “for Ani.”

They will be provided with a safe space at a branch and a phone to call for help or information on what support is out there.

The scheme arrived in Cumbria today (Thursday) and forms another service to help people who suffer from or are in fear of domestic abuse.

The issue has added significance during the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. People may leave home to avoid injury or risk of harm, including domestic abuse.

Cumbria Constabulary’s force lead for domestic abuse is Detective Chief Inspector, James Yallop.

He said: “This is another vital service to help people when they may feel too frightened or unable to contact police or other support services.

“People can visit one of the participating pharmacies, as if picking up essential goods and ask for Ani while dealing with staff.

"This is really important in rural towns and communities, giving people more access to the support they need."

Victims do not have to contact police, other support is available for those who are suffering.

"There is a whole wealth of support services available in Cumbria; everything from counselling to rehoming support, in addition to many other services available nationally," continued DCI Yallop.

"We also, of course, want to encourage victims to report abuse. Incidents will be investigated thoroughly and with sensitivity and we will also help people get the support they need.

"These are uncertain times, with people staying at home to protect themselves, the NHS, their families and communities. But nobody should suffer domestic abuse. If people need help we would encourage them to come forward."

A spokesman for Community Pharmacy Cumbria, which represents pharmacies, said: “Community Pharmacy Cumbria are aware of how important the Ask for ANI campaign is and are happy to support.

“We have ensured that all pharmacies across Cumbria have the relevant information needed if anyone needs help accessing support from police or other support services.”

If you have been the victim of domestic abuse, or are concerned for someone who is, you can report this by calling 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.