Calls are growing for a scheme which aims to protect people feeling unsafe on a night out to be implemented in St Andrews.
Bars and restaurants that sign up to the Ask Angela initiative allow a person to go up to a member of staff and “ask for Angela,” at which point they will be discreetly led away from the situation and can have a taxi called for them.
Additionally, the bartender may also escort the person who caused the victim to feel unsafe out of the venue discreetly.
The programme was successfully tested in Aberdeen and has now been rolled out across Aberdeenshire and Moray by Police Scotland and Rape Crisis Grampian.
Originating from Lincolnshire County Council, the scheme got international attention when it was highlighted by actor Ashton Kutcher on Twitter.
He vocalised that the movement was a great idea, and reposted an image raising awareness of the Ask Angela campaign.
The image read, “’Hi, I’m Angela. Are you on a date that isn’t working out? Do you feel like you’re not in a safe situation? Is your Tinder or POF date not who they said they were on their profile? Does it all feel a bit weird?
“If you go to the bar and ask for ‘Angela’ the bar staff will know you need some help getting out of your situation and will call you a taxi or help you out discreetly – without too much fuss.”
Nick Farrer, the current Director of Wellbeing at the University of St Andrews, alluded to the bringing of the movement to the University during his campaign last semester.
When asked about Ask Angela’s progress in St Andrews, he said, “There’s huge appetite for the Ask Angela campaign within the management of the Union and the sabbatical office … This is a high priority of mine.”
Speaking of the challenges involved, he said, “Over the summer I started inquiries and attempted to reach out to several Scottish SUs [Student Unions] who have Ask Angela in their bar space. Myself and Adam [Director of Events and Services] wanted to visit to see what it was like in the space, and to ask what they had to change, and so on.
“Despite reaching out to a few, and despite being happy to travel, we never received a response in the genre we were hoping for.
“We didn’t stop there though. I gathered several of the promotional materials online to see what we could adapt – and I pencilled a few redesigns to better suit our Union.”
“During the process, I realised why we were finding the process a little more difficult than our neighbours – the campaign was an official Police campaign in certain regions that SUs and other bars cooperated with rather than a campaign those venues had developed independently.”
As of yet, there is no roadmap in place for when Ask Angela will arrive in St Andrews, but Mr Farrer did say, “Fife Police would be quite happy to launch their own branch of the Ask Angela campaign too.”
On the Ask Angela campaign’s future implementation at the University, Gabriella Romney, Coordinator of the Feminist Society, said, “The implementation of ‘Ask for Angela’ is a fantastic project to combat sexual harassment and assault in St Andrews, which often is ignored.
“It provides a subtle way for students to escape unsafe situations and demonstrates an encouraging commitment on the part of the Students’ Association to make student safety a priority.”