New pharmacy service to help victims of domestic violence

A new service to help victims of domestic violence is being launched in pharmacies across the country.

Safe Pharmacy, run by the Irish Pharmacy Union, involves nearly 900 pharmacies which will provide a safe space for anyone who needs it.

It has been described as another avenue to help anyone experiencing domestic violence and coercive control.

The pharmacies involved can provide victims with a safe space in a private consulting room and connect them with specialized domestic violence and gardaí services.

Participating pharmacies will be easily identified by a purple “Safe Pharmacy” sign outside.

The rollout is being led by the Irish Pharmacy Union in partnership with An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive and Safe Ireland.

And those involved hope it will give better access to help for victims in every city and town.

Safe Ireland CEO Mary McDermott described its importance as part of the response to the outbreak of violence against women and said pharmacies are places of trust that would provide quality access points to the victims.

“Pharmacies are places of trust and Safe Pharmacy is an example of the kind of skilled community response needed to ease the pathways of violence for women and children,” Ms McDermott said.

“Priming skilled staff in local pharmacies to partner with trained specialist services in the locality will contribute to the emergence and growth of safer communities in the future.

“This initiative provides a mechanism for the provision of standardised, quality and safe access points across the country and Safe Ireland commends the IPU for its leadership role in responding to the continued rise in violence in against women.”

Kathy Maher, a pharmacist based in Duleek in County Meath, said participating pharmacies are located in each county.

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Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said that if people came to ask for help, each pharmacy involved would have a secure and confidential room.

“We know that domestic violence and violence and coercive control is a problem in all of our communities, behind doors. It happens to all age groups, to both genders, to all socio-economic classes, it is so really important that we reach out to these people,” Ms Maher said.

“It’s visually private, audibly private.

“We want to make sure victims know they will be believed, prioritized and listened to without judgement.”

She added that pharmacists received additional training before offering this service and that it will be accessible to people without an appointment.

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