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What is an angel shot?

Maybe you’ve heard talk about the angel shot online, or perhaps you’ve seen posters displayed around venue bathrooms about it. Regardless of the source of your intrigue, you may be wondering “what is an angel shot?”.

Today, we’ll explain what an angel shot drink is, where it originated, and how it can be used to help those in vulnerable situations.

What is an angel shot?

So, what is an angel shot? An angel shot is an order placed at a bar or restaurant that signals the bartender or server that the guest feels unsafe and needs help. Once the patron has “placed” their order, the trained bar staff will then go about discreetly helping the customer. Depending on where the person is located and the situation, help can arrive in many forms; for example, a taxi to their home, an escort to their vehicle, or even a call to law enforcement.

What are the different types of angel shots?

Along with the standard “angel shot”, there are a few code variations on the angel shot, that can signal the need for different forms of help. The individual ordering the drink can give specific instructions on what they want, such as an “angel shot neat or an “angel shot with lime”. Here are a few of the angel shot codes:

Angel shot with lime/with lemon/with a twist

This means the patron feels they’re in immediate danger and is requesting that the police be called immediately.

Angel shot neat/straight up

The patron is requesting an escort to their vehicle as they feel unsafe.

Angel shot on ice/on the rocks

Is code for the bar patron requesting an Uber or taxi to be called.

By having unique codes for different forms of help, those in vulnerable situations are able to discreetly receive the assistance they need without feeling embarrassed or intimidated. This also gives bar patrons the peace of mind that they have a way to seek help without having to discuss their situation with anyone directly.

Where did the angel shot originate?

The idea of the angel shot initially came from the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign that originated in Lincolnshire, England in 2016. This initiative was developed by Inspector Hayley Crawford, who worked as the strategic coordinator for the Lincolnshire County Council at the time. It was named in honour of Angela Compton, a woman murdered by her husband in 2012.

Since then, the campaign has swept across the world. In 2018, the NSW Government launched Ask for Angela, and it can now be found being used in many venues across the country.

Training staff to understand the angel shot

Those that wish to adopt the angel shot initiative for their venue should ensure that their staff are well trained and versed in the codes. This will help guests feel safe and secure while accessing the help they need.

Training for bringing the Ask for Angela initiative into your establishment can involve a few different steps to ensure staff are familiar with the signs and codes.

Display posters in discrete locations

Venues that wish to adopt the Ask for Angela initiative should display posters of awareness in discreet yet visible locations throughout the establishment, such as in female bathrooms. This can help guests in need feel comfortable and safe, knowing that help is available if needed.

Ensure staff are aware

It is crucial to provide comprehensive training to all staff members regarding the concept, purpose, and importance of the angel shot. This training should emphasise empathy, non-judgmental support, and an understanding of the different situations that may necessitate the use of the angel shot.

Train staff to recognise the signal and respond appropriately

Staff should be educated about the various ways customers may communicate their need for assistance using the angel shot. This includes the specific phrases and variations of the code that mean different things. Employees should be taught how to respond promptly and discreetly when they receive an angel shot request. Establish a protocol that ensures a compassionate and non-confrontational approach, prioritising the safety and well-being of the individual seeking assistance.

Create safe spaces for patrons

A safe space or spaces should be created where customers can seek refuge until help arrives. Designate discreet areas, such as an employee-only section, or a separate room, where individuals can temporarily retreat from their potential aggressor, if they need to wait for the assistance they require.

Collaborate with local authorities

Venues might also wish to collaborate with local authorities, such as local law enforcement agencies, support organisations, or hotlines that specialise in assisting victims of harassment or assault. This collaboration will enable staff to provide a more comprehensive response and connect individuals with the necessary resources.

Provide ongoing training and communication for staff

Regularly reinforce the importance of the angel shot system through staff meetings, refresher training, and open dialogues. Encourage employees to share their experiences and insights, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and support within the establishment.

What is the male version of the angel shot?

Men can also use the angel shot if they feel unsafe in a situation. Another option for men is ordering the ‘Johnny Depp shot’. This is a code for when men feel unsafe and require assistance. However, the Johnny Depp shot isn’t currently as widespread as the angel shot.

Regardless of gender, if you’re feeling unsafe in a bar, club, or other venue that participated in the Ask for Angela initiative, you can always make it known to a member of staff by using one of the codes. Doing so will provide you with assistance and support in a discreet and non-judgemental manner.

The angel shot serves as a useful tool for individuals who find themselves in vulnerable situations while frequenting bars, clubs, or other hospitality establishments. By training staff members to understand and respond effectively to the angel shot, the safety of establishments can be improved, and patrons can feel more empowered and heard. Through education, awareness, and ongoing training, we can ensure that the angel shot remains a powerful symbol of support and protection for those who need it.


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