Witham MP visits local self-defence class for women

Priti with from left: Fusion’s Women’s self-defence instructor, Veronika Abrahams, David Wilson, Chief Instructor at Braintree Martial Arts Centre, Cllr Lynette Bowers-Flint, Catherine Forsyth, Fusion’s Sports & Community Development Officer and Cllr Kevin Bowers

Witham MP visits local self-defence class for women

Published: 9th June 2023 - 10:05 am Category: Local News

The MP for Witham, Priti Patel, has paid a visit to the free self-defence for women classes being held at the Witham Leisure Centre on Thursday evenings and Wednesday lunchtimes.  During her visit on Thursday 8th June 2023, Priti took time to observe the instructor, Veronika Abrahams, at work with class members and stayed for a briefing when the class was over.

These free classes, provided by Fusion Lifestyle, and funded as part of the Safer Streets programme, are designed to help women and girls become more confident and aware of their surroundings, when they are out and about in public situations. It is a rolling 12 week course, with a maximum sized class of 12 with sessions tailored to the needs of the women attending.  New attendees are always welcome and can book in using the Fusion-Lifestyle app downloadable here

The classes began in April and are funded via the Safer Streets programme.  The funding was secured by Braintree District Council, in partnership with the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s Office for Essex.  The Safer Streets programme, launched by the Government in January 2020, has a primary focus on reducing violence against women and girls, neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour.

Two young people learning self-defence techniques during the class
Two young people learning self-defence techniques during the class

During her time in Government as Home Secretary, Priti oversaw the launch of the dedicated violence against women and girls (VAWG) strategy, which involves work with specialist groups that deliver practical support and change for women and girls in local communities across the country and allows police forces and local authorities to invest in transformative crime prevention initiatives.

Talking about her visit, Priti said: “It was very impressive to see the instructor at work and some of the techniques she was able to show members of the class.  The safety of women is more important than ever right now and classes like these are an excellent means of ensuring women and girls are much safer on our streets both through increased awareness and in knowing how to deal with dangerous situations, if and when they occur. The Safer Streets Fund, which I launched and oversaw during my time as Home Secretary, continues to make an important difference to the safety of women and girls at a community level.”

Fusion Lifestyle’s Sports and Community Development Officer, Catherine Forsyth said: “It was great that Priti was able to come along and see for herself what we are doing in these classes.  We are really pleased we are able to bring these free self-defence classes to Witham and it is a privilege to know that we are helping to give women and girls the tools to feel confident and safe when they are out and about.”

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