Northampton women take part in self-defence class to combat hate crime

The Pearls of Peace group with Superintendent Chris Hillery
The Pearls of Peace group with Superintendent Chris Hillery

A Northampton women’s group today took part in a self-defence class aimed at giving them the confidence to go about their daily business without fear of hate crime.

Pearls of Peace, a group, which meets regularly at St James Community Centre in Northampton, were given an input from fitness and karate expert Melissa Wolfenden.

They were shown moves that would help them defend themselves if they were ever confronted.

Community Superintendent Chris Hillery, took the opportunity to speak with the group, he said: “I want to encourage you to work with us and for us all to stand together against intolerance and hatred. We are keen to strengthen relationships and we are here to listen. We understand the difficulties Muslims and other minority communities face.

“By standing together we send out a clear and strong message that we celebrate and cherish our inclusive society, as well as recognising we have a shared responsibility to work to safeguard it.

“Targeting someone because of who they are is not acceptable and there is no place for intolerance and hatred in Northamptonshire.”

He also stressed the need to walk away from a confrontation if it was possible.

He said: “If you can walk away from a situation, then I would always say walk away and alert the police. But if you’re being attacked and fear for your safety, then you use the minimum force required to get to safety.”

The course was arranged by the Northamptonshire Muslim Police Association to help raise awareness of hate crime.

Chair of the association, Sophia Perveen, said: “Hate crime, no matter what form it takes, is wrong. I know from speaking to our minority ethnic communities, especially women, that often they will feel too afraid to tell the police or to protect themselves.

“Today was aimed at giving these women a message that they can report hate crime and crucially, if they feel threatened, then they have to skills to protect themselves within reason.”

Zahira Case, chair of Pearls of Peace, said: “You never know what’s going to happen. If we get attacked or confronted, we won’t be able to do anything unless we have the tools to defend ourselves.

“The training today and the skills we’ve learnt will hopefully give the woman confidence to simply leave their house. Because of incidents that have happened, I know they have fear of leaving their homes, but hopefully, now they are more assured of their ability to look after themselves.”