More than 1,000 pharmacies to offer 'safe space' for domestic abuse victims

More than 1,000 pharmacies to offer 'safe space' for domestic abuse victims

At the launch of the initiative in Meaghers Pharmacy, Baggot Street, Dublin, were Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland; Detective Superintendent Sinéad Greene, Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB), and HSE pharmacist Louisa Power. Picture Jason Clarke

Women suffering from domestic abuse or coercive control can now get assistance at more than 1,000 pharmacies in private spaces. 

Pharmacies displaying the purple ‘Safe Pharmacy’ logo near the door have specially trained staff who can help women and girls in a private consulting room.

They can ask to speak to a pharmacist in the consultation room anytime. Appointments are not needed, and there is a phone in the room which women can use.

These staff can then put victims of abuse into touch with local specialist domestic violence services, or a supportive family member or An Garda Síochána to seek further help.

Pharmacist and member of the IPU’s Community Pharmacy Committee Ruth Garahy said women and girls are the victims of violence around the world.

“Here in Ireland this often comes in the form of domestic abuse,” she said.

Knowing where to go for help can be a big challenge for people in abusive situations.

"Through Safe Pharmacy, we have created over 1,000 locations across the country where support is now available.” 

She said compassion, respect and support will be on offer.

“They will be able to access whatever help they need, in the privacy of a consultation room,” she said.

“If you need help, or even if you think you may need help your nearest Safe Pharmacy is there for you.” 

The scheme was launched in July and has now reached around Ireland. Marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said this programme aims to provide safe spaces for women.

It is run as a partnership between the IPU, Safe Ireland, An Garda Siochana and the HSE.

All Safe Pharmacies display the purple Safe Pharmacy logo near the entrances. 

Safe space to seek help

The rooms come equipped with phones as people experiencing domestic abuse or coercive control may have difficulty making contact safely with the support they need while they are at home. 

It is not uncommon for movements or access to phones to be monitored and limited in domestic violence situations.

The IPU’s Kathy Maher said anyone inside the rooms cannot be seen from the outside and discussions cannot be heard outside the room.

In a video promoting the campaign among pharmacies, she said:

Pharmacists can make the calls on behalf of the person, or to give them their control back, they can make the call themselves.

Each pharmacy will nominate ‘a Safe Pharmacy champion’ within the pharmacy. This person could be a pharmacist, technician or over the counter staff member and has received specialist training.

Participating pharmacies include Reen's Life Pharmacy in Millstreet, Donovan's Life Pharmacy, Ballyphehane in Cork and O'Malley's Life Pharmacy, Dooradoyle in Limerick.

Safe Ireland said: “Pharmacies are trusted locations and Safe Pharmacy is an example of the type of skilled community response necessary to facilitate pathways from violence for women and children.”

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