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Ask Angela pilot for gyms

ukactive, This Girl Can, Safer Business Network, the Metropolitan Police Service and the Mayor of London have joined forces to launch a pilot of the Ask for Angela campaign across 11 fitness and leisure centres in south west London.

Lampton Leisure and Anytime Fitness are signing up sites for an eight-week pilot of the nationally-recognised safety campaign. Originally designed for licensed venues, Ask for Angela allows people who feel like they are in an unsafe situation or experiencing any form of inappropriate behaviour to ask staff for help by discreetly using the code word ‘Angela’. Research from ukactive and This Girl Can found that 42% of women surveyed had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation in their fitness or leisure centre, and yet 68% failed to report it, either because they did not know who to report it to or they did not think it was serious enough. The pilot builds on ukactive and This Girl Can’s Safer Spaces to Move, a two-year funded project that aims to address sexual harassment and intimidation by supporting more fitness and leisure facilities to improve their services for women and girls. Launched on 26 February, the pilot will see an external evaluation agency capture the impact and learnings to help determine how well the campaign works in fitness and leisure facilities and, whether it is suitable for adoption more widely within the sector.

Staff at each facility, including those on the front desk, gym floor and management, have been provided with a range of training tools to ensure they can best support users if they ask for ‘Angela’. Each facility has also been provided with an Ask for Angela communications toolkit including physical and digital posters; assets for digital screens and equipment; social media posts; an email template for member communications; and an email signature for staff to help raise awareness of the campaign. Claire Edwards, head of Campaign Activation at This Girl Can said: ‘For some, going to the gym can be an anxious experience. Wearing tight clothing, changing in front of others, entering often heavily male dominated spaces, as well worries about getting active and not being good enough are all too common – often for women and girls. Our research found that safety concerns restrict women’s freedom and comfort in fitness and leisure centres and pose a significant barrier to them enjoying exercise. Ask for Angela will reassure women and girls that they can, and should, seek help or report any situation that has left them feeling uncomfortable and that staff will be on hand to help.’

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