The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, visited Boots at Piccadilly Circus in London to hear about the pharmacy multiple’s recently initiated ‘safe spaces’ to support victims of domestic abuse.
The duchess also received an update from the company on the Washbag project she launched in 2017, which donates a wash bag of toiletries to victims of sexual assault.
Commeting on her visit, the duchess said: “I’d like to thank Boots for all it’s done throughout lockdown, especially for these two causes which are both very close to my heart, for opening these safe rooms, also continuing to support with washbags, they make a huge difference.”
The Hestia charity-led Safe Spaces scheme was launched during the lockdown period in response to the desperate situation facing many victims of domestic abuse who were isolating with their perpetrators.
In the first week of these spaces being made available, Boots estimated that over 100 people accessed them.
Tracey Clements, chief operating officer for Boots, said: “We know that our pharmacies have long been a place where people can turn for help and advice on their local high streets.
“It’s at times like these when our 2,400 stores in communities across the UK take on increased value as a place of safety that’s freely accessible in the local community for those who need it. We are very grateful for Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to our store in Piccadilly, and for her continued support.”
In Boots Pharmacy Consultation Rooms, victims can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice, including information on Hestia’s Bright Sky app, which saw an increase of 47 per cent in downloads during lockdown.
Lyndsey Dearlove of Hestia, commented: “Restrictions due to Covid-19 have left many victims of domestic abuse trapped and isolated from friends, family and other support networks. Our Safe Spaces initiative, first launched with Boots, provides a vital lifeline which will continue to be needed even as lockdown eases.
“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has already done much to raise awareness of domestic abuse and we hope her visit today will help more victims of domestic abuse to know that they can come to a Safe Space to reach support.”
Since the Washbag project was initiated, Boots UK has supplied 36,386 wash bags to over 50 victims across the UK. These bags contain a range of toiletries provided to the sexual assault referral centre clients who have undergone a forensic examination so that they can use them when having a shower and getting dressed afterwards.
With one in four women and one in six men experiencing domestic abuse in the UK, and that number estimated to have been much higher during lockdown, Boots has been using its pharmacy consultation rooms in 2,400 stores across the UK as ‘Safe Spaces.’