Council supports self-defence class for women experiencing homelessness

Published: Thursday, 13th June 2019

Oxford City Council is supporting a free self-defence class for women who are experiencing homelessness or vulnerably housed.

The Porch day centre is providing the class in collaboration with the council and Oxford Kickboxing Club. It will take place at Richard Benson Hall, 276 Cowley Road, between 3pm and 5pm this Sunday (16 June).

Participants will learn about awareness and risk reduction, escape strategies, and techniques for dealing with assaults such as choking, grabbing and defending themselves on the ground. Female black belt instructor Sifu Tayyaba Hameed will lead the session.

Crisis’ It’s No Life At All report details how dangerous, frightening and isolating sleeping rough is. Rough sleepers are more likely to be victims of crime and exploitation, and are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence than the general public. One in four women experiencing homelessness has been sexually assaulted while sleeping on the streets.

As spaces are limited, women who are vulnerably housed or experiencing homelessness can register for the class by emailing

Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: “People experiencing rough sleeping are more likely to be victims of crime, exploitation and violence than the general public, and women are at particular risk. We believe that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford and that people experiencing homelessness are safer inside, but it’s also true that nobody should be abused or attacked just because they’re homeless.”

Councillor Shaista Aziz, member for Rose Hill and Iffley, said: “The idea behind the class came when Kizzie from The Porch contacted me after she attended the very popular women’s self-defence classes I organised at Rose Hill Community Centre. Women who are experiencing homelessness are vulnerable and often isolated. Sadly, many are at greater risk of being exposed to violence. I’m proud to host this class in collaboration with The Porch to create a safe, non-judgmental space for women to learn new skills, gain confidence and meet each other.” 

Kizzie Flynn-Jones, senior project worker at The Porch day centre, said: “We are excited to provide this free self-defence seminar to women who are experiencing homelessness or are vulnerably housed. We as a service understand the vulnerabilities that women face on a day to day basis and wanted to offer a class where women could learn self-defence techniques from a female black belt instructor and build confidence all within an empowering environment.”