Morrisons to offer support for domestic abuse victims as govt mulls codeword scheme

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Retailers could help domestic abuse victims under govt's new codeword plans
Morrisons is the first supermarket to offer a safe space where victims of domestic abuse can contact support services.
// Morrisons to offer safe spaces where victims of domestic abuse can contact support services
// The govt is also planning a codeword scheme, where a specific phrase could be used to alert shop workers to escape danger
// The Morrisons staff and shop workers under the govt’s plans would be specifically trained

Morrisons has become the first grocery chain to offer a safe space for domestic abuse victims as the UK Government mulls a codeword scheme to help them escape from danger.

A specific phrase could be used to alert shop workers, who have been trained to identify the key words, the Home Office said.

The news comes shortly after Morrisons said it would offer safe spaces where victims of domestic abuse can contact support services.


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The UK Government’s proposed codeword scheme is set to be discussed at the virtual Hidden Harms Summit, to be hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson today and includes government, law enforcement, victims’ charities and frontline workers among those in attendance.

“I am acutely aware that for some people home is not a safe space, and that coronavirus has brought with it additional dangers,” Johnson said.

The government is working with various groups – including the National Pharmacy Association and British Retail Consortium, plus domestic abuse charities – on the codeword scheme, according to the Home Office.

Johnson stressed the importance of supporting “the most vulnerable”, and the need to keep them safe from harm and exploitation.

“It is vital that we come together and bring all our collective expertise to ensure we are doing everything we can to support those at risk, and to help them rebuild their lives,” he said.

The codeword scheme has been championed by the Victims’ Commissioner, Domestic Abuse Commissioner and crisis support charities such as Safe Lives.

The summit is seen as a chance to drive forward action to support victims of crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual violence, child sexual abuse and modern slavery.

It is also hoped that victims may reach out for help, and experts might come up with further ways to tackle these serious issues.

New tactics to try and tackle domestic abuse – which are being piloted by police forces including Cumbria, South Wales and Sussex – are up for discussion.

They aim to better identify those who pose the highest risk of attack and set up ways for different agencies to stop re-offending.

Yesterday, Morrisons announced it would become first supermarket chain to offer safe spaces where victims of domestic abuse could contact support services.

The Big 4 grocer said it joined forces with charity Hestia in its UK Says No More campaign because a trip to a supermarket is such a routine activity it’s unlikely to alert an abuser.

From Monday, consulting rooms in pharmacies within 117 Morrisons stores will be designated safe spaces where pharmacists – who have been specially trained – can direct those seeking help to the support they need.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline recently reported a 25 per cent increase in calls since lockdown restrictions were introduced in late March.

Morrisons will also focus on raising awareness and understanding of domestic abuse with colleagues across all 494 stores nationwide over the coming months to ensure that every store becomes a safe space for those who need it the most.

“We want to help our customers and colleagues during this very difficult time,” Morrisons head of people Lisa Leighton said.

“We provide an environment for our colleagues where those experiencing domestic abuse feel encouraged and empowered to disclose this, and feel confident that we’ll help them get the right specialist support.

“We wanted to extend this to seek help to our customers. You are not alone. Come to our pharmacies and let our colleagues know if you need help.”

Health and beauty retailer Boots has also stepped forward to offer support for domestic abuse victims in their stores.

with PA Wires

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