A first date today isn’t the romantic, butterfly-filled affair it used to be.
Love is found at first swipe and the success of the relationship is based not on one’s sense of humour or kindness, but their use of suggestive emojis and ability to angle the camera just right.
The world of online dating has well and truly taken over, with a variety of sites offering the prospect of love to all kinds of people, from women who like a man in uniform to those for whom gluten-free singles float their boat.
There are, of course, success stories. There are people who met online and are now married with children living their happily ever after. But in the media today, we are constantly told horror stories of dating gone wrong.
The “Grindr killer”, Stephen Port, used the dating app to prey on and murder four young men between 2014 and 2015. Girls are warned about predators who pose as young boys in order to groom them, and people using dating apps and websites are always advised to meet in a public place and have a friend waiting nearby just in case.
With the number of sexual assaults in England and Wales having increased by 12% between 2015 and 2016, the dating game has become a dangerous one, with people often finding themselves on a date with someone they don’t actually know and in a situation that can be very difficult to get out of.
That’s where Angela comes in.
‘Ask for Angela’ first came into being in Lincolnshire in 2016 and has since taken the UK by storm, with cities across the country adopting the scheme.
The idea is simple. Anyone who finds themselves feeling uncomfortable or threatened on a night out is to approach someone behind the bar and ask “is Angela in?” This will alert the bar staff to a problem and they will then take appropriate action to help you get out of it.
— Lauren Frost (@Lauren_comm) April 8, 2017
— Ally Southern (@HollyAlly) April 27, 2017
On Friday, staff at twenty pubs and bars around Sheffield will be trained under the scheme, in order to learn how best to deal with the situation should it arise. The campaign will then go live on the 19th May, and all pubs, clubs and bars are encouraged to take part.
Nick Simmonite, general manager of the Frog & Parrot on Division Street, said: “Ask for Angela is a damn good scheme. It’s a simple yet effective way of making sure that Sheffield is safe and happy and a great place for a night out.”
He also recognised that social media and online dating has put young people today more at risk of falling victim to predators.
“In the past you would be set up on a blind date by your friends so you had a good idea that the person would be nice. Now, dating is all done on social media so the person you’re meeting could be anyone. We see lots of cases where one person looks dodgy and we’ve had to intervene,” he said.
“This scheme will make it so easy not only for us to continue to do that, but for the people themselves to decide enough is enough and get themselves out.”
But the scheme isn’t only for those who are on dates. Angela is there to help anyone, whether you’ve been segregated from your group or hassled by a stranger.
Meera Kulkarni, Chief Executive of Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, said: “We want everyone to feel safe and enjoy their nights out wherever they are in the City. Whether it’s a date with someone you met online that doesn’t feel quite right or a night out with mates. If someone is commenting or behaving in a way that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing, it’s not okay.
“The Ask for Angela campaign will ensure that bar staff help to support you and enable you to leave safely if that’s what you want. People might feel embarrassed about ‘making a fuss’ or be seen to be over-reacting but if you feel unsafe – it’s not okay. Whether you’re a woman or man, straight or gay – if you need help – Ask for Angela.”
Visit www.sheffieldbestbarnone.com for more information about the campaign.
Contact Tracey Ford by emailing email@example.com if you work in a pub, bar or night club and want to take part.