Nightclubs launch safe dating ‘Ask Angela’ initiative

Pubs and nightclubs in Cork city have embraced an initiative to help people who feel at risk or vulnerable while out socialising, writes Eoin English.

The ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign, which went live last night in dozens of participating venues, will provide an extra layer of security to the public, vintners said.

Cork Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) secretary Michael O’ Donovan said members were delighted to get involved in the scheme, which is backed by the gardaí, Cork City Council, the Purple Flag scheme for safe night-time economies, and student unions in both UCC and CIT.

“With the increase in online dating, we want to help create an extra feeling of security and offer a helping hand to those who may need it,” said Mr O’Donovan.

“Experience in other areas has shown that it is not used that often but it is a comfort to customers to know that it is there.

“With our Purple Flag accreditation for a vibrant and well-managed evening and night-time economy, we are conscious of continually striving to implement initiatives like this.”

The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme was launched in the Lincolnshire County Council area in England in 2016 to support people who feel unsafe, intimidated, or threatened while socialising.

The programme, aimed at men and women of all ages and sexual orientation, provided people who felt at risk while enjoying a night out with a discreet way to seek help or support by approaching bar or nightclub staff, and ask for ‘Angela’.

Staff in participating venues were trained to respond accordingly to ensure the person who approached them with the phrase was separated from the person who made them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. They accompanied the person to a safe location where they could discuss their concerns and request more specific assistance.

Options available to staff include offering to call for a taxi for the concerned individual or contacting their friends or family.

The scheme was tested successfully in several locations, including in Waterford, and is set to be introduced nationwide here.

Staff in participating venues area being told that the victim and perpetrator can be any gender, and that the perpetrator does not have to be of the opposite sex to the victim.

Staff have been told that one of the difficulties in understanding sexual harassment is that it involves a range of behaviours and that, in most cases, the victim may find it difficult to describe what they experienced.

They have been told the number one rule is to believe the person who raises concerns, not to blame them, to listen, and never assume.

- Irish Examiner

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