AT A GLANCE:
Women's self defence sessions which aimed to give women the confidence, awareness and skills to stay safe. Four sessions were held between 11th Jan and 1st Feb 2022. Between ll- 16 women attended each session.
WHY WAS THE PURPOSE?
Sessions were aimed at women who had experienced some trauma and were facing economic disadvantage. Many were refugee and asylum seeking women who have unacceptably high levels of fear and low levels of trust in services and institutions. "Many women feel a lot of fear from a lot of pressure points. Fear makes us less able to focus and less able to know what to do about it." (project Lead, Lucy Fishwick). The sessions aim to help women address their fears, to feel safer and be safer by being able to assess risk and respond effectively to threat. Women are supported to i) explore unhelpful strategies and beliefs and embed new perspectives / beliefs, ii) build skills and strength to feel safer iii) Move body to help process trauma and reduce stress, iv) Enhance ability to focus and risk assess, v) Identify effective and proportionate responses to threat.
WHAT DID IT DO?
The project was led by Lucy Fishwick who has 17 years experience as a domestic abuse support worker, combined with 17 years of training in Wing Chun Kung Fu. In addition to developing physical skills, movements and strategies for self-defence, the sessions also provided women with a friendly, safe space, time for discussion, information sharing and networking. Relevant external speakers attended some sessions to provide additional information and support. Women were taught various tools and skills they can use to keep them safe and how to choose and use the right skills at the right time, "we always start with what is it you want to defend yourself against". Between 11-16 women attended the sessions each week and were aged between their early 20s - early 70s.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DID IT MAKE?
Women reported increased confidence and that they felt better both physically and mentally. Some reported sleeping better as a result. The women found the sessions empowering and motivating, "l feel great and strong.", "l feel powerful." Women also developed improved skills and awareness in terms of staying safe;
"I'm more aware of my surroundings and always being ready to focus and have increased awareness. "
"self defence starts from having the right responses we try to avoid physical altercation"
“I am able to make safer choices”
DID THE GRANT PAY FOR?
The grant paid for bus fares, cost of facilitator, refreshments for the sessions, parking and face masks. Lucy shared her expertise and experience and the Tetley gave free use of the venue.
The project continues to grow and expand it's reach building on the work achieved due to support from Hey Neighbour. More funding is being sought for further sessions.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
The cost of transport can be a barrier to engagement for many women so ensure these can be covered. Working in partnership can enable access to community venues and resources. Recruitment via existing groups who are already connected to target communities is an effective way to reach more people.
BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOUR MEANS:
“sharing skills and ideas with others who can benefit from them. Living happily in a community means living with manageable risk and knowing there is someone to help if you find yourself under threat”