Boots pharmacy consultation rooms across the country, including at the Stornoway branch, now offer safe spaces for victims of domestic abuse, where they can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support/advice.

The scheme, launched by the crisis support charity Hestia, is a response to the desperate situation facing many victims, who are isolating with perpetrators during lockdown.

While in the consultation room, people will have access to a number of helplines and signposting to download the free app Bright Sky which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship, or concerned about someone they know.

Lyndsey Dearlove of Hestia said: “Self-isolation offers a new method of control over victims, making it very difficult for them to seek support. By creating this space, we hope many will be able to safely access support while following government guidelines.

“Although we are in a period of lockdown and isolation, our message to victims is that domestic abuse services are open and we can help you.”

One survivor of domestic abuse said: “People who are now forced indoors with an abusive partner really need a safe haven where they can retreat to, collect their thoughts, and get support. Sometimes getting out of that bubble of abuse, which you are in at home, helps you realise that support is out there."

Chief Inspector Ian Graham, Western Isles area police commander, said: “We are aware that there is an increased risk of domestic abuse as people observe isolation and social distancing guidance, and welcome this additional support for those affected.  

“If you, or anyone you know, is being abused or are at risk of abuse, please contact Police Scotland on 101, or 999 in an emergency, or if you need support please contact Western Isles Woman’s Aid on 01851 704750, or Scotland's Domestic Abuse helpline on 0800 027 1234. 

“Further information regarding Domestic Abuse can be found at https://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/domestic-abuse/ and https://safer.scot/"

The picture shows Western Isles police preventions and interventions officer Fiona Macleod (right) introducing the new service to Boots in Stornoway.