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Author Topic: This Is How Pharmacies Are Being Turned Into ‘Red Telephone Boxes’ To Help Domestic Abuse Victims  (Read 21 times)

Floyd

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This Is How Pharmacies Are Being Turned Into ‘Red Telephone Boxes’ To Help Domestic Abuse Victims

Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.When Mafalda’s abusive relationship with her partner escalated during the coronavirus lockdown, she knew she had to escape for the sake of herself and her children.As her partner grabbed her by the hair and tried to punch her, Mafalda broke free and fled from the house. She was working in a shop as a key worker and ran to her workplace where her manager alerted the police and her social worker.For some people trapped in lockdown with their abusers, escape seems impossible as their every move is closely controlled.Stuck in the house and unable to raise the alarm that they need help, many victims are too afraid to use their mobile phones or access the internet in case they are being listened into and monitored.At one time, public telephone boxes were a familiar sight on streets, and domestic abuse victims knew they could leave the house and make a phone call seeking support.However, with the arrival of most people owning mobile phones, many red telephone boxes have disappeared, cutting off a vital line of support for those suffering domestic abuse.Lockdown has made life even more difficult for abuse victims as they no longer have many of their usual routes to let someone know their plight have faded away due to the pandemic – such as talking to people at the school gates, going to their GP or to places like children’s centres and baby groups.But now a charity which supports victims of domestic abuse and provides refuge services has joined forces with pharmacies across the country to replicate the public pay phones of yesteryear by offering designated safe spaces where people can contact specialist support services.Safe Spaces launched during May with charity Hestia’s UK Says No More campaign to create safe havens at pharmacies where abuse victims can use a consulting room, talk to specially trained pharmacists and be signposted to specialist support.There are now more than 3,000 Safe Spaces launched at pharmacies including Boots, independent pharmacies and at pharmacies inside Morrisons supermarkets.“When we moved to a world of almost everyone having a handheld telephone device, we lost phone boxes,” explained Lyndsey Dearlove, head of UK Says No More at Hestia, who implemented the Safe Spaces scheme.“While technology is great in many ways, for those suffering domestic abuse, it poses problems as it can be mirrored, monitored and listened into and there are so many apps allowing them to be followed that they are worried about their abuse perpetrator finding out if they try to seek help.“In times gone by, people knew they could pop into a phone box and make a call without their abuser tracing the call and if someone saw them in a phone box, it wasn’t an issue as it was usual for people to use public telephone boxes.”Dearlove told HuffPost UK that even before the coronavirus crisis hit, Hestia was already working with businesses to look at how they could help their own employees but also how businesses with a presence on the high street could help people on a larger scale.When the coronavirus pandemic happened and people went into lockdown spending the majority of their time at home, the need became greater.“When Covid-19 happened and people were forced into lockdown, issues that we knew were bubbling away became louder and even more apparent,” said Dearlove.“Domestic abuse victims access support in many different places, but with lockdown, all those usual opportunities for intervention disappeared and initially, people were really only allowed to go out for essential shopping and to the pharmacy.“This meant the power the abusive person had over their victim grew exponentially.”When Covid-19 happened and people were forced into lockdown, issues that we knew were bubbling away became louder and even more apparent.”Lyndsey Dearlove, HestiaHestia wanted to provide an environment where those experiencing domestic abuse could feel encouraged and empowered to disclose what was happening and feel confident that they would be put in touch with the right specialist support services.Hestia joined forces with pharmacies and in the last few weeks, Boots, independent pharmacies and pharmacies inside Morrisons supermarkets across the country have come on board.Information about the Safe Spaces will be shared on posters and on till receipts. As a trip to a supermarket or a pharmacy is a routine activity, it is unlikely to alert an abuser.The move comes as the latest figures from domestic abuse charity Refuge show that since lockdown began, there has been a 66% rise in demand for its National Domestic Abuse Helpline and a 950% increase of visitors to the Refuge website.Dearlove told HuffPost UK: “The way it works is that domestic abuse victims would come into a store, see a sign and talk to a pharmacist – who has safeguarding training – and they would be directed to the consulting room.“Once inside the consulting room, they will have time to call helplines or get in touch with services who they are already in contact with. They will also be directed to the right specialist support.”While the total number of people who have used a Safe Space since they were launched is not yet known, Boots have told Hestia that in the first week, the Safe Spaces were used more than 100 times.Dearlove said: “In one case, a woman who had just left her abusive partner and was staying in a refuge was on the high street and her abuser bumped into her and started following her.“She walked into the pharmacy and asked to use the consulting room and the pharmacy staff called 999 immediately.“The woman was looked after and offered food and drink and they stayed with her. The police attended and found the abuser on the high street and arrested him.”Hestia, which is continuing to take referrals and accept women fleeing domestic abuse into its safe houses throughout the pandemic, saw calls to its referral lines increase by around 60% in April compared to the six months prior to lockdown.One of the people they helped move into a refuge during lockdown was Mafalda, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.She met her partner in 2013, but after she fell pregnant in 2015 he became controlling.“I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere on my own or wear make-up.” she said. “Then the abuse became physical. He would pull my hair and choke me.“Sometimes, he would get his brothers to hold me down while his sister slapped me.”Mafalda said that when the coronavirus lockdown happened, things became intense and stressful as they were stuck at home together.“One day, he asked me to send money to his mum.” she said. “I agreed but said we needed to be careful because coronavirus had made us financially insecure.“He accused me of trying to control him and grabbed me by my hair and tried to punch me.“I broke free and ran out of the house. The police had been called several times throughout our relationship, but I knew this time that I had to leave.”Mafalda says she ran to her workplace and received incredible support from her manager. She then went to stay with a friend while her children stayed with her partner.However, a few days later, her abuser turned up at her friend’s house and tried to drag her out. When she said she didn’t want to go, he slapped her. She reported it to the police and the social worker decided she and her children needed to move into emergency accommodation.Due to coronavirus, there weren’t any refuge spaces available so Mafalda and her children were moved into a B&B.“We were told that lots of people at the B&B had coronavirus and I became so worried.” she said. “I just kept thinking about my children and their health and didn’t know what to do. It was so stressful.” Mafalda and her children have now been moved into a refuge run by Hestia. They arrived with just a small bag of clothes.She says she is worried about the impact on her children as they are now stuck in a refuge all the time.“We can’t go to the park like we used to and my little boy really wants to go to school. Between the impact of the pandemic and having to watch me get hit, I can see the effect it is having on their mental health.“I just want life to go back to normal so we can go to a GP, access the money we need and the children can go back to school.“We need to get back in a routine so we can start to recover.”Tamara White, who oversees the refuges Hestia provides in east and south London, told HuffPost UK that they noticed a change in the way referrals came to them from the start of lockdown.“Usually, we would get women who had left an abusive relationship to go and stay with their mum or sister or friend contact us from there after they had left their abusive situation.“They would remove themselves from the immediate danger and then think: ‘I now need somewhere safe’ as they knew their abuser would probably follow them to their mum’s or sister’s or friend’s house.“But when lockdown happened and people weren’t able to go anywhere, they were not able to go to the places where they might have escaped to.“Instead, we were getting calls from women trapped in the house in maybe the five minutes they got when their abuser went out to buy some milk.”White said the lockdown also impacted on refuge spaces as not only was there a lot of demand, people were staying for longer as they did not have places to move on to. However, Hestia has secured funding to increase their bed capacity. We were getting calls from women trapped in the house in maybe the five minutes they got when their abuser went out to buy some milk.”Tamara White, HestiaShe has welcomed the Safe Spaces scheme as she says there is a real need for discreet places where victims of abuse can go to reach out for help.She told HuffPost UK: “For some people, the control from their abuser is so great that they will not even be allowed to go out to the pharmacy.“But there are many people who this scheme will be able to help by providing a safe space where they can reach out for help.”Hestia is working with the Home Office to look into implementing a code word system where abuse victims can alert pharmacy staff of their plight with one word without having to explain their situation.The victim’s commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird told HuffPost UK that the partnership with pharmacies to support domestic abuse sufferers is an excellent scheme and she believes it will be a lifeline for victims. The one place they are still likely to be allowed to go to is the supermarket or to pick up a prescription."Dame Vera Baird “The fact is that under lockdown, those suffering domestic abuse will be finding it very difficult to get help or tell others about what is happening.” she said.“However, the one place they are still likely to be allowed to go to is the supermarket or to pick up a prescription.“I am very pleased this scheme with pharmacies has gone so broad and that pharmacies in supermarkets have also joined it. I hope many more places come on board.”Dame Vera told HuffPost UK she was keen to see a code word system introduced as it would be useful for those victims who might not speak much English but can learn a code word or those who feel too traumatised to talk about their situation.“A code word system would be good as if someone has suffered domestic abuse, they might not be able to explain it or talk about it. “But by saying one word, that is recognised, they can trigger the help and support they need.“However, the concern is that staff need to be trained to recognise the code word and learn how to act in a safe way so this idea needs to be properly considered.” While in the Safe Space consulting room, people will have access to:24-hour National Domestic Abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247Men’s advice line: 0808 801 032Scotland – Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: freefone 24/7: 0800 027 123Wales – Live Fear Free Helpline: freefone 24/7: 0808 801 0800Northern Ireland – Domestic Abuse & Sexual Abuse: 0808 802 1414Signposting to download free mobile app Bright sky which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or for those concerned about someone they knowRelated...
           
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 08:19:56 AM by Floyd »



 

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