Community pharmacies across NI support the Distance Aware campaign

Pic of Harkin Pharmacy

The ‘Distance Aware’ social distancing campaign recently launched by the Department of Health is being promoted widely in over 500 community pharmacies through the ‘Living Well’ service.

Living Well is a programme that provides information and advice to pharmacy customers on public health issues. It is delivered in partnership with the Public Health Agency (PHA), the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI).  

The Distance Aware campaign uses a consistent and instantly recognisable symbol, the Distance Aware Shield, to help remind people to maintain social distance. Organisations and individuals can support the campaign by wearing a badge or displaying a poster with the Distance Aware Shield.

The badges are available in community pharmacies and can be worn by anyone to prompt others to maintain distance.

Olive MacLeod, Chief Executive at the PHA, said: “Community pharmacies are embedded in local communities and continue to play a key role in the fight against COVID-19. We welcome their support in promoting the social distancing message and distributing the Distance Aware badges to members of the public, especially to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

“We are making great strides with our vaccination programme, but it remains as important as ever that we all follow the public health advice – this includes washing our hands, wearing a face covering and keeping our distance.”

Vincent Harkin from Harkin Pharmacy Maghera said: “There has been a great appetite for the free Distance Aware badges, particularly from our older and more vulnerable customers. As more people become aware of the badge and its meaning, the more effective it will be for those who are wearing it, helping them to feel safer and less anxious when they are out and about.”

Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of CPNI, said: “Community pharmacy is delighted to support the promotion of this campaign, including the distribution of the Distance Aware badges. Community pharmacies are at the heart of communities, in convenient locations for people to access healthcare, with local community pharmacy teams recognised as trusted advisors for health and wellbeing concerns. Being distance aware, in addition to wearing face coverings, washing hands and the COVID-19 vaccination programme, are all important as we seek to emerge from this pandemic.”

The campaign is also being promoted through GP surgeries, Health and Social Care Trusts, and in the voluntary and community sector through the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA). Northern Ireland sporting bodies and supermarket retailer ASDA are also backing the campaign. Distance Aware badges are available from information points in all ASDA stores.

Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at the HSCB, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the Distance Aware campaign through the community pharmacy Living Well service. Our pharmacies have continued to provide accessible care and support to the public throughout the most challenging days of COVID-19 and are always a first port of call for advice from a trusted and respected healthcare professional.”

The Distance Aware campaign was launched in Wales last year and was adapted for use in Northern Ireland by the Department of Health, the Public Health Agency and the Patient and Client Council.

Photo caption:

Martina O’Kane from Harkin Pharmacy Maghera promotes the ‘Distance Aware’ social distancing campaign, which is currently running across 500 Community Pharmacies in Northern Ireland.