The ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign – first launched by Lincolnshire County Council and now officially supported by the Metropolitan Police – has been rolled out in the Student Union. The main goal of ‘Ask for Angela’, according to the Sexual Violence & Abuse Strategy Coordinator for Lincolnshire County Council, is to “promote a culture change in relation to sexual violence and abuse … and to empower victims to make a decision on whether to report incidents. Sexual abuse and violence is a national issue and all councils have a responsibility to tackle abuse.”
The campaign offers discreet help to anyone who is made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, whether that be by a stranger, a tinder date, or anything in between. Venues which support the campaign provide posters which are displayed in toilets, they read: “On a date that isn’t working out? Feel like you’re not in a safe situation? Go to the bar and ASK FOR ANGELA for discreet help”. When an individual feels they are in a compromising or unsafe situation, they can go to the bar and ‘Ask for Angela’, and staff are trained to act immediately to take the individual to a safe and private environment. Depending on the severity of the situation, staff will either call a taxi for the individual and ensure them a safe and discrete exit from the venue, or in more serious cases call the police.
The campaign has been applauded nationally for its effectiveness and efforts to reduce the instances of sexual assault and violence. The Royal Holloway SU campaign states “No matter what situation you find yourself in, if you go the bar in any of our venues and ask for ‘Angela’, the bar staff will know you need some help getting out of your situation … we urge you to share this message with your friends so that they know help is there should they need it.”
Students at Royal Holloway have responded positively to the campaign, but some believe it was long overdue:
“I think this is a great initiative & having known a few of my friends who have both been sexually assaulted & harassed I also feel that something like this was long overdue!” – Umar Ehtesham
Others think the idea is excellent, however its execution might be harder than it seems:
“Although I am fully on board with the AskForAngela campaign, I personally think the main concern I’d have if I were to use it is that staff potentially wouldn’t be trained enough to deal with the situation discreetly and quickly enough. Seeing as most of the advertisement is displayed in the packhorse and Tommy’s bar (both of these places have seating that is clearly in close proximity to the bar area where you will be asking for help), the person being the nuisance can see the bar staff clearly and vice versa.” – Harry
Overall, the general consensus among students is that #AskForAngela is definitely a step in the right direction, and encourages a positive and safe environment in venues across campus. While some are hesitant about its effectiveness, it’s good to see the SU taking action against the culture of sexual harassment.