Domestic abuse victims will be now be able to “Ask for Ani” to indicate they need helpat pharmacies nationwide as part of a codeword scheme.
Anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse will be able to ask for support without their abusers or other members of the public knowing, and as soon as they “Ask for Ani”, they will be led into a private consulting room where they will be put in touch with the police, relevant support services, or helplines.
The UK government-backed scheme will be available immediately.
It can initially be accessed at 2,300 Boots stores and in 255 independent pharmacies, with other pharmacies are being asked to sign up to the programme.
The scheme follows another initiative launched in May by the charity Hestia, which saw safe spaces installed in the consultation rooms of more than 5,000 pharmacies nationwide, and also resembles the earlier Ask For Angela scheme launched by the Metropolitan Police in bars, pubs and restaurants to prevent sexual violence.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in five of the offences reported during and straight after the first national lockdown were related to domestic abuse, and police forces in England and Wales recorded more than 250,000 domestic violence crimes between March and June last year.
During the previous lockdown in England in November, the charity Refuge – which runs the National Domestic Abuse helpline – said it was “very concerned” by the continuing upward trend in demand for its services.
This new pharmacy-based initiative was first proposed during a “hidden harms” web summit hosted by Boris Johnson in June, which examined some of the repercussions of lockdown.
In a statement in the House of Commons, Victoria Atkins – the safeguarding minister – said the scheme would “offer a vital lifeline to all victims, ensuring they get help in a safe and discreet way”, but Jess Phillips – shadow home office minister who speaks on domestic violence and safeguarding – called for more backing for support services.
Ms Phillips said: “Domestic abuse and community support services are currently planning for redundancies in March – quite unbelievable in the middle of a global pandemic and a national lockdown,
“The sector, the Labour party, the domestic abuse and the victims’ commissioner have all called repeatedly for sustainable funding for at least the next year [and] the staff being made redundant are the very people the minister needs for ‘Ask for Ani’ to have any chance of success.”
Atkins said in response that the government had pledged £27 million towards services connected to protecting people who face domestic abuse.
Manchester secures £5.2m funding to build ‘supported accommodation’ for rough sleepers
Manchester has secured a whopping £5.2 million in funding to build new ‘supported accommodation’ designed to house rough sleepers.
After an application submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP) has been approved this week, Manchester City Council says it’s eager to help the former homeless “rebuild their lives”.
This means that, by working in partnership with housing and support providers Humankind, Jigsaw, and Great Places, the Council will oversee the creation of 42 units of supported housing across three different schemes.
The schemes are for single people with a history of rough sleeping and longer-term support needs.
According to the Council, these people will stay in this accommodation and receive personalised support until they are ready to “take the next step to independent living”.
This new £5.2 million funding allocation from the Government covers both the cost of creating the accommodation – which must be completed by March 2025 at the latest – and revenue funding to help run it for its first three years of opening.
“We are working with a range of partners to tackle the homelessness challenge on all fronts, from prevention in the first place to helping people into permanent, settled homes,” explained Cllr Joanna Midgley, who is the Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.
“Securing this £5.2m funding for the city will help us create much-needed extra accommodation for those being helped off the streets who need significant long-term support before they are ready to live independently.
“It’s only part of a wider response but it will be a welcome addition to the accommodation and support available.”
The news of the successful application comes after the Council published its plan to get rough sleepers off the streets of Manchester and into temporary accommodation this winter back in early November.
With temperatures expected to reach as low as -5C by Friday, 29 November, the Met Office and UKHSA pushed out an amber heat-health alert on Wednesday, with the elderly, clinically vulnerable and the health sector in general said to be those most at risk.
Although the freezing weather obviously has the potential to affect everyone — with the likes of the North East and Northern Ireland having already been given a yellow weather warning as well — amber heat-health warnings are deemed to require an ‘enhanced response‘ as they are likely to significantly impact “across the whole health service” and possibly other sectors too.
Under the relatively new CHA (cold-health alert) system, anything beyond a yellow level alert means that it is expected that there will be increased use of healthcare services by vulnerable populations and an increase in risk to health to individuals over the age of 65, those with pre-existing health conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and other vulnerable groups like rough sleepers.
As well as the Met Office offering their verdict, the UKHSA’s Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection, Dr Agostinho Sousa, said: “With a risk of widespread overnight frosts and some snow across the country this week, it’s important to check in on the wellbeing of those most vulnerable to the cold.
“Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly older people, and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.
“If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over the age of 65, it is important to try and heat the rooms where you spend most of your time in[doors], such as your living room or bedroom.”
For those considered to be at risk during this cold snap and amber-heat health warning, the official government-sanctioned advice is that if you can’t heat all the rooms in your home, it is important to heat the rooms you spend the (i.e. living room in the day and bedroom before going to sleep) to at least 18 degrees if possible.
They also recommend wearing a few thin layers instead of one thick layer, as the former is better at trapping heat than just one big jumper etc.
Other advice on how to stay safe during these colder periods includes stocking up on food and medicine, keeping windows closed and reducing draughts at home, as well as getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can get in touch with the NHS on 111 and if it is an emergency please call 999 immediately.