A GYM in Oxford has unveiled plans for self-defence courses for those identifying as women and LGBTQ people to help them navigate a city they feel 'unsafe' in.

With homophobic and transphobic crime on the rise in the UK, Tier Blundell, founder of Let's Grow Boxing on St Clement's Street, decided to set up boxing, martial arts and self-defence classes for underrepresented communities in the city, who are also most likely to be targeted.

The 30-year-old, who is now studying for a DPhil at the University of Oxford, trained at some of the world's best gyms and has a 'decent' fighting career behind him - fighting for five titles, and winning an amateur and a professional title.

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The majority of the members of the club, which was set up in September, are women – around 80 to 90 per cent, Mr Blundell said, and many of them have shared distressing experiences of harassment with him and asked how they could physically defend themselves.

This is how the idea of a unique, inclusive space where underrepresented communities can learn self-defence came about.

Mr Blundell pointed out that now Covid-19 restrictions are over, some of the feedback he receives from people is that they do not feel safe in Oxford.

He said: "This was evident after the incident with Sarah Everard – the Oxford Mail ran a poll on Twitter, which asked women whether they feel safe, and the results were quite shocking.

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"Particularly with trans members, many have asked me to help them as they get a lot of abuse and threats.

"Self-defence is something that people have wanted to do for a long time but have not been able to do it as there are no classes on offer locally.

"Oxford is very safe place for me because I am a man, but certainly it is not a safe place if you are trans or if you identify yourself as a woman.

With the last set of Covid-19 rules set to be lifted on July 19, Mr Blundell said he plans to start the classes as soon as possible.

Currently, he is fundraising £4,000 to refurb the studio he operates from with newer and safe equipment like mats and pads on the walls to protect the students.

Explaining what the course will include, Mr Blundell said: "It offers an introduction to a lot of situations people can find themselves in, but it centres mostly on if you are on your own and you are dealing with a stronger person, who is trying to sexually assault you.

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"We will cover public spaces, situational awareness and signs but I think most women are aware of this because unfortunately it is a way of life for them.

"What I have heard from a lot of students is that a lot of assaults happen behind closes doors, like in halls, and that is very scary, so hopefully the classes will give these women the confidence to fight back in these spaces too."

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