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How To Get Help In a Bar

Going for a night out should be a fun, carefree time, but sadly this isn’t always the case. If you find yourself feeling scared, unsafe, or just generally in an uneasy situation, there are a few subtle methods you can employ to get help in a venue.

It’s good to be aware of popular initiatives, “safeword drinks“, and code words for help in a bar to subtly let bar staff and management know you’re in a potentially bad situation, without informing other parties present.

In today’s article, we take a look at some popular methods of getting help in a bar, including the Ask for Angela initiative and the angel shot.

Ask for Angela

The Ask for Angela campaign began in the UK, and has since taken off around the world. Venues that are participating in the initiative will have posters or flyers displayed in discreet spaces such as the cubicles in the women’s bathrooms. It is designed to allow someone who feels uncomfortable to approach a bartender and ‘Ask for Angela’, subtly letting staff know that they don’t feel safe. The person causing discomfort could be a date, a partner, a friend, or a stranger.

The South Australian Government writes:

“This is not about women’s safety, or making women responsible for ensuring their own safety – this is about ensuring that venues, their staff, and even community members, have the ability to respond to inappropriate behaviour.”

Ask for Angela is not mandatory for venues across Australia, and establishments can decide whether or not they wish to participate. It’s the responsibility of the venues that participate to educate their staff on how to assist patrons.

What happens if you Ask for Angela?

If you Ask for Angela at a participating venue, staff will do their best to discreetly separate you from the person you are with and escort you to your car, or call a cab or rideshare to get you to a safe location. They may also remove the other person from the establishment.

Angel shot

The ‘angel shot’ is similar to the Ask for Angela campaign. They are both code words for help in a bar. If you find yourself feeling unsafe while in a venue that participates in this initiative, approach the bar and ask staff to make you an angel shot. You won’t actually be given a drink. A bartender in a participating venue will know this means you would like assistance with leaving the venue without your date/friend/partner’s knowledge, and should do their best to help you. They may also remove the other person from the establishment.

Ask staff for assistance

Even if a venue doesn’t participate in the Ask for Angela or angel shot initiatives, you can always ask venue staff for assistance if you feel you’re in a compromised situation. Bar staff and security are trained to help patrons, so if you’re feeling unsafe you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out and get their attention.

Reaching out when you feel unsafe can feel a little daunting, but doing so can ensure staff are aware of the situation and able to provide assistance.

The importance of bartender training

It’s a good idea to be across social campaigns and initiatives as a bartender. This way, if a patron approaches you and uses one of these subtle initiatives to let you know they feel in danger, you’ll know how to assist them.

While Responsible Service of Alcohol certificates (RSAs) don’t currently teach the Ask for Angela and angel shot meanings as standard, they do provide valuable education on assessing and identifying high-risk situations, and dealing with various scenarios. Across Australia, it is required that all people working within a licensed establishment have a current and valid RSA.

Where to get an RSA

You can obtain an RSA from any RTO accredited organisation – such as Express Online Training. Places such as Express Online Training can even allow you to complete your RSA online and at your own pace.

There are RSAs for each Australian state and territory, along with a general RSA that’s valid for use in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania.

Initiatives such as Ask for Angela and the angel shot are designed to create a way for patrons to subtly let bar staff know they are feeling unsafe. Remember, regardless of whether a bar participates in a campaign or not, you can always let staff know you’re in a compromised position and would like some help.


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