A drink with the codeword “Angela” was implemented in various bars to protect both men and women from sexual assault, following the increased 13% rate of sexual offences in the UK over the past two years.
The “Ask for Angela” campaign has been created by the Lincolnshire County Council to prevent sexual assaults from occurring during a night out.
“If you look at police data, it tends to suggest that sexual violence happens in the early hours after Friday and Saturday night, and alcohol is very often involved. Because of that, I wanted to work with bars and pubs, and find something that would be easy for them to implement,” says Hayley Child, for TIME magazine.
Child is the Sexual Violence & Abuse Strategy Coordinator for Lincolnshire County Council and also the founder of the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign.
The whole idea behind Angela is very simple: the campaign poster should hang inside every restroom, in every pub or bar and should inform everyone to not be afraid to ask for help.
Every bartender, as the campaign suggests, knows what to do and how to act if you ever need to ask for Angela.
It has been two years since the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign was introduced to the public, yet it seems that not many women or men are aware of it here in the UK.
Thus, I decided to ask for Angela myself and see what is holding up the information flow.
And so, my sober pub‑crawl adventure around the ‘every‑university‑student’s‑dream‑town’, otherwise known as Stirling, began.
My journey kicked‑off in Brewdog, a cosy little pub with the cosiness tax added to the prices of their pints.
I walk straight to the bar, where broad-shouldered bartender Mike asks me what I am having.
I explain to him who I am, what I am doing and what I am after. He nods.
“Sure, I’ve heard of Angela… When you’ve been working in this environment long enough you would definitely have to hear about it.”
Even so, Mike explains that he has never received any special training, nor was he ever told what the procedure is when someone asks for Angela.
Fortunately, neither he nor his co-workers ever found themselves in such a situation.
In Brewdog the ‘Ask for Angela’ poster hangs visibly in the women’s restroom. I don’t know about the men’s ‑ I did not dare check.
Only a few steps down the street is my next stop: Wetherspoons.
The women’s restroom is located on the second floor, and even while sober with comfortable footwear, the stairs up there were my worst enemy.
Inside the prestigious toilet, where many selfies of the local “celebrities” have been taken, I couldn’t find any sign of Angela. Only when I grabbed the handle of the bathroom door to leave did I spot the poster in the corner of my eye.
I have never noticed it before, and probably wouldn’t have if I was not specifically looking for it.
The team leader of that night’s shift said he knows what it is and what to do but has never done it before.
No special training or instructions from anyone were received by him.
I continue my journey across the street where I enter the realm of Corn Exchange.
For some (to my sober mind and tired legs) unthinkable reason the toilets here were also on the second floor.
I dragged myself upstairs, one step at a time.
I enter the women’s restroom and there it was. In all its glory, a ‘big‑enough‑to‑notice’ Angela poster hanging on the back of the door.
It would be hard not to notice it, no matter the state you’re in.
I rush downstairs and approach the two bored bartenders, who are trying to look too occupied with doing nothing.
“Have you heard of Angela?” I ask, waiting for them to notice me.
“Of course, I have,” answers Andrew, the shorter one of them. His co‑worker’s face suggests otherwise.
I briefly explain the concept of Angela and continue my interrogation.
“Has anyone ever asked you for Angela?”
“No, at least not me,” says Andrew. I turn my eyes towards his taller co‑worker.
“I don’t think anyone would ask for Angela in Stirling. They would more likely ask where Angus is. I’ve had that before.”
Disappointed, I let them go back to pretending to be too occupied with something and make my way over to the neighbouring pub, Cape.
Inside, it’s the same routine as before: restroom, bar, staff. Never heard of it, don’t have it, might put something up.
Onto the next one.
In Kilted Kangaroo I meet bartender Alan, who seems to know much more about the subject, which was promising.
He has definitely heard of Angela before, as he has worked in three different pubs in three different cities across Scotland.
Even so, he says he has never been asked for an Angela by a customer before.
When I asked his supervisor if he has heard of the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign, I am met with confusion.
After I explain what Angela stands for, the still‑confused Crocodile Dundee comments with “ya guys do theht ‘ere?”.
With no training, no poster and no supervisor aware of Angela, I leave Kilted Kangaroo disappointed.
I finish my night in the gem of Stirling pubs, also known as Katie’s bar.
Without hesitation I once again walk straight to the women’s restroom.
By now I have become a self-proclaimed professional toilet examiner in the Stirlingshire county, so I know what I am looking for.
It’s not there.
I go back to the bar, where I disturb the bartender from his card game with the regulars. He doesn’t seem to mind ‑ he would’ve lost anyway.
I asked him about Angela and without finishing my question, he points his fingers towards the wall behind him.
There, under the liquor shells, hidden away behind the sea of useless crap, I spot Angela.
I have not noticed it sober and I bet you my left pinkie toe that I would not notice it drunk.
I asked the young bartender if anyone has ever asked for Angela before.
With some sort of unreadable emotion in his eyes, he shakes his head and says that even when something happens, usually the women here “just put up with it.”
Sober and tired, I return from my pub‑crawl, and I can’t help but feel like my beloved town has failed me tonight.
Featured image credit: Cosmopolitan