Barkingside women learn self-defence in response to spates of crimes in Redbridge
PUBLISHED: 17:26 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:09 12 March 2018
The rise in crime has been hitting the headlines, but instead of sitting at home and worrying about it a group of women in Barkingside decided to take action.
Spearheaded by Councillor Karen Packer, residents who had only previously met through a Gearies Residents Whatsapp group formed a self-defence class at Fullwood Primary School, Burford Close.
Ricky Manetta, of Synergy Fitness, Forest Road, led the session and shared his 30 years of martial arts experience with the women.
During his career, he has developed his own style of self-defence, arranged security with the police at high profile events and became head coordinator at the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Recorder went along to the first session which promised to teach participants lots of different moves including what to do if someone attacks you from behind or tries to pin you down.
“If I said to you someone is going to attack you on the street and you have no idea what you are doing, it is right you should be nervous,” Ricky, told the room.
“But if you suddenly think ‘well I learnt that move and if someone grabs me like that I can get out,’ or ‘if they do that I can get out’, you start getting the confidence to make the right choices.
“It gives you the option of do I want to do something or do I want to run.
“It gives you the element of surprise.”
The instructor, who became interested in self-defence after being badly bullied as a child, stated with the easiest techniques and demonstrated moves that women could perform on attackers of any size.
From being grabbed around the wrist to being strangled, the residents were shown simple manoeuvres they could perform to gain control.
The class then went on to more intrusive situations and were given the tools to overpower an attacker on the floor who was staddling them.
One participant came to the group after being worried about the amount of mugging by Gants Hill station and said the class had made a real difference to her life.
“You keep hearing of all these muggings and crimes and everyone is feeling worried but no one was talking to each other,” she said.
“Patrols have been a good thing to come out of community Whatsapp groups but we needed more.
“This is just one of the things that Councillor Karen Packer and the Amiee of the Gearies residents group have planned and it is bringing people together - they will also be looking at emergency first aid courses and classes about drugs which you can go to with your children
“It is another layer of support, its network for women and even isolated members of the community are coming together in a powerful way.”
At the start of the class the women were not sure what to expect but by the end, they were walking taller and felt empowered to have learnt new skills.
The vibe was buzzing, with the majority of participants hoping to book more classes, and arrange sessions for there children.
Councillor Packer said she came up with the idea of a self-defence class about speaking with residents who were frighted to go about their daily tasks.
“They wanted to feel stronger and more empowered and I thought what better way to make that happen then give them the ability to defend themselves.
“Until recently lots of people didn’t know their next door neighbour but this group and the Whatsapp groups are bringing the Redbridge community closer together.”
Aimee Bassi, of Gearies Residents Watch added: “This session has given confidence to women and given them the tools to protect themselves and get out of an attack quickly.
A spokesman for Fullwood Primary school, who let the group use the hall said: “The safety of our parents and children is extremely important to us we are happy to support our community as best we can”.