The initiative is an adaptation of the successful “Ask for Angela” campaign, which was first launched in the United Kingdom in 2016.
“The Ask for Angela campaign has garnered widespread recognition throughout Europe for its remarkable ability to assist individuals who feel unsafe, vulnerable, or threatened at bars, clubs, and various other venues,” a joint release from Loblaw Companies Limited and Victim Services Toronto reads.
The system involves training staff to be aware of what it means when a person at one of the participating stores approaches them, asking for Angela. The code word “Angela” will in turn let the employee know that the person approaching them needs help.
“Promptly and compassionately, staff members will guide the person to a secure and private location, away from their companions, allowing for open dialogue and an accurate assessment of their needs,” the release reads, which also says this program is part of a larger effort to combat intimate partner violence.
“Ask for Angela” does not require staff at participating Loblaw stores to provide counseling, but employees will be able to facilitate support for those who need help by assessing the situation and reaching out to the correct people and agencies.
Staff at participating stores will be trained to take the appropriate measures to help the person in need. This includes contacting the police if requested, reaching out to Victim Services Toronto, or connecting them with a friend or guardian.
Victim Services and Loblaws say that to ensure this program is effective, they have developed an online training system for employees of stores participating in the new program.
Stores that are rolling out the campaign include the Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills, Valu-Mart and independent grocers.