On the 7th May 2020 Superdrug launched Safe Spaces across 190 of their stores, Caris Newson, Superdrug’s Healthcare Director, reflects on why it was so important to them to support the scheme and the impact it has had.

Our clinicians, pharmacists and nurse teams are out in our stores, in the community every day and they do their jobs because they want to help and support people. So when Hestia came to us with the idea of offering victims of domestic abuse a safe space in our stores we were very enthusiastic. We knew that our 190 pharmacy stores across the country would provide eight million people with access to a Safe Space within a one mile radius of where they lived and that was really encouraging to know that we had the potential to help so many people should they need it.

It was a real team effort to launch Safe Spaces. Obviously the pandemic and lockdown was a very challenging time – I’m proud to say that our pharmacies stayed open and provided essential healthcare services, medicines and advice to our local communities at that time. Safe Spaces felt a very important part of our role. We put a training plan together for our pharmacy staff so that they understood the scheme and knew what to do if someone came in and asked for help. It was so important that they felt confident in knowing how to help and support a victim of domestic abuse.

It was a very different dynamic during lockdown, some of our patients were maybe more emotional, they had very little social contact and we were often the only people they would see. Some of our patients that we had supported for years could no longer get to us, so our staff went above and beyond to get vital medicines to them. One of our drivers walked miles in the snow to deliver a patient’s essential medication because they couldn’t leave the house.

So, it was a very difficult time both emotionally and from a working perspective for our teams but they were all very proud to be helping their local communities and there was overwhelming support for offering Safe Spaces in our stores. I think it helped that the scheme also provided a really clear action plan of what to do if someone did come in and needed support for domestic abuse. Our teams knew that they could refer them to a helpline or call emergency services but the training helped them to also know when to maybe give people some time and space in one of our consulting rooms. We’ve heard from survivors that have been helped by our colleagues about how important it was just to have a place to go where they could feel safe. We have had people say to us that it’s the first time they’ve felt safe in years and that is an incredible feeling to know that we are helping them in that way. It makes me very proud of our colleagues.

Nearly three years on, our pharmacy teams continue to be big advocates of Safe Spaces. Awareness about domestic abuse is key. The more people that are aware of Safe Spaces and the more accessible it feels, then the more successful it will be. We will continue to spread the word and support Hestia to drive awareness about the help that’s out there for victims of domestic abuse.

Find out more about Safe Spaces