In the run up to Valentine’s Day, people in Leeds are being urged to ‘Ask for Angela’ if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
Anyone can say the code word ‘Angela’ to staff at participating venues to signal that they feel uncomfortable or are in a difficult situation and would like assistance. Staff will then be able offer help, for example by calling a taxi or providing a safe space.
The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme was launched in Leeds in November 2021, as part of a wider campaign to reduce violence and harassment against women and girls. It now has over 600 venues signed up across the city.
Staff at participating venues have been fully trained, they won’t judge and will aim to get people out of the situation without too much fuss. A map which shows participating venues can be found at Ask for Angela - Women Friendly Leeds or look out for the Angela sticker.
Women are also being reminded that the Women’s Night Safe Space will be out on Saturday evening’s between 10pm – 3am outside the Corn Exchange. The Women’s Night Safe Space is a non-judgemental safe bus for women and girls to come to, or be referred to if they feel concerned, unsafe, unwell or vulnerable. Fully trained staff will be on-hand for support and advice and water, refreshments, warm drinks and mobile phone charging facilities are all available.
People can also seek assistance from the city centre ‘Street Marshals’ who provide a highly visible additional presence during the night time, to keep the streets safe and help people get home. They are security industry accredited, undergo vigorous training and record any actions on their body worn video cameras to help prevent and deescalate situations on the street. They are connected to Business Against Crime In Leeds (Bacil) via a secure radio network and the council's CCTV system. If needed they can seek a police response.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for resources with responsibility for Safer Leeds, said: “Every woman in Leeds should be able to visit our city and feel safe and be safe but we know this may not always be the case which is why such schemes are important. As a city, we have a firm commitment to end violence and harassment against women and girls and to tackle and prevent any issues before they arise."
Venues must register to be part of the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme and premises are encouraged to sign up by emailing: AskForAngelaLeeds@leeds.gov.uk