Councillor calls for council to implement 'Ask for Angela' scheme in Manchester
“HI, I’m Angela.
“Are you on a date that isn’t working out? Do you feel like you’re not in a good situation?”
“Does it all feel a bit weird?”
‘Angela’ was first introduced as a dater’s guardian angel via a poster on a bathroom stall in Lincoln back in 2016.
'Angela' is a figurative guardian angel, a code word to be used in an uncomfortable or situation; simply ask for Angela at the bar and receive help discreetly. It’s proven to be an effective tool to diffuse any dangerous situations while ensuring daters feel protected against any ‘what ifs’.
The scheme - part of a wider #NoMore campaign which aims to provoke a culture change in relation to sexual violence and abuse - is gradually being rolled out across various cities across the UK. London's Metropolitan police is currently championing the campaign in the capital.
John Leech, Withington's former MP of ten years, has begun calls to implement 'Ask for Angela' in Manchester "as soon as is humanly possible."
Leech said: "Sexual abuse and violence is a national issue; all councils have a responsibility to tackle it and we need to start taking a leading role."
"Ask for Angela has been proven to work and could dramatically increase the safety of people in Manchester. I don't see why we wouldn't start putting plans in place immediately."
Earlier this year, Leech launched an attack on Tinder and Grindr after he uncovered a spike in related sexual crimes.
More than 58 crimes, including rape and serious violence, had been reported in the last four years across the city – all of which occurred after meeting a stranger via Tinder.
Of the 28 incidents related to Grindr, four resulted in rape with a further ten other sexual offences, while thirteen out of the 30 reported Tinder incidents resulted in rape, with other violent offences making up a further fifteen.
Taking action, Leech called on the two leading dating apps to take the safety of their users seriously, accusing them of a "serious and shocking lapse in care."
He also spoke out about the need to bring 'sex education up to date and into the 21st century' to include awareness of online safeguarding and dating apps:
"As the popularity of apps like Tinder and Grindr continue to increase, more and more people are rightly meeting up with their dates in public bars and pubs, and we need to make sure we are one step ahead to ensure that no one is left in a situation they feel they can't get out of,” says Leech.
"Implementing Ask for Angela in Manchester will ensure a lifeline for those people who unfortunately do find themselves stuck in an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation, and it's our duty to get the scheme out as soon as is humanly possible."
It was Hayley Child, Sexual Violence & Abuse Strategy Coordinator for Lincolnshire County Council, who came up with the idea of Ask for Angela - a play on the phrase 'guardian angel'. She’s been delighted with the response it has received.
She said: "We'd seen that a few individual pubs around the country had done similar messages at the bar saying that if people's dates weren't going well the bar staff would help and call them a cab, and we wanted to do this in a more organised way."
There are many dating safety schemes targeted towards young women – from date rape nail polish, anti-rape pants, to ‘condoms with teeth’ – yet ‘Ask for Angela’ seems the most sensible and easiest tool to implement in a social city such as Manchester. It also encourages everyone to be vigilant not just those who are most vulnerable.
For any single person, dating comes with its variable risks; awkward silences, vaguely uninteresting conversation, being sat in front of a face that didn’t quite match up to the profile picture...
Hopefully, with ‘Ask for Angela’ in play across Manchester, incompatibility could be the only concern when on a date.