38 Limerick pharmacies providing support to abuse victims

The purple Safe Pharmacy sign.

38 pharmacies in Limerick are participating in a new initiative to enable people experiencing domestic abuse and coercive control to receive support in their local pharmacy.

Led by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) in partnership with Safe Ireland, An Garda Síochána and the HSE, the Safe Pharmacy initiative provides people experiencing domestic abuse with a safe and secure location to seek support.

Participating pharmacies will provide access to a phone in a private consultation room and contact details for local support services. This will allow victims to call a family member, local specialist domestic violence services or An Garda Síochána. 

Anyone who is experiencing a domestic abuse situation and wishes to seek the support is advised to look for the purple Safe Pharmacy sign on the window displays of participating pharmacies.

They should ask to speak to the pharmacist in the consultation room. As this happens multiple times a day in every pharmacy, it will not appear out of the ordinary to anyone who is in the pharmacy at the time. In the privacy of the consultation room, the person can tell the pharmacist they need support and this will be provided.

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Detective Superintendent Sinéad Greene of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau said that it’s often the case that victims of domestic abuse and coercive control feel that they don’t have someone to turn to for vital support or to disclose what they are experiencing.

“This important initiative will complement our work in the area, particularly around Operation Faoiseamh which specifically focuses on protecting the victims of domestic abuse. Gardaí will be working closely with these pharmacies nationwide to encourage victims toaccess several free and confidential supports,” she explained.

Safe Ireland chief executive Mary McDermott said they were delighted to be partnering with the IPU in the roll-out of the Safe Pharmacy initiative as a community response to support people silently suffering from domestic abuse.

“Pharmacies are trusted locations and Safe Pharmacy is an exemplar of the type of skilled community response necessary to facilitate pathways from violence for women and children. Priming competent personnel in local pharmacies to partner with specialist trained services in the locality, will contribute to the emergence and growth of safer communities into the future.

“This initiative provides a mechanism for a standardised, quality-assured, safety access-point offering across the entire country and Safe Ireland commends the IPU for its leadership role in responding to the ongoing surge of violence against women,” Ms McDermott added.