SELF defence classes created to tackle violence against women and girls have been a great success so far in St Helens.

Dave Leigh, an ex-policeman of twenty-five years, has been running the town centre classes at Wonderland Community Centre, on Reflection Court, and the Chrysalis Centre for Change, on College Street.

Dave, a director at veteran-focused community interest company No Duff, started the Wonderland classes after receiving a £2,000 grant from the 'Parr-Ticipate' fund, which is a Parr-based initiative ran jointly by Merseyside Police, St Helens Council and Torus.

St Helens Star: The participants are said to be "loving" the classesThe participants are said to be "loving" the classes

With local and national examples highlighting the dangers women face while walking alone, Dave pitched for the funding to enable women and girls to better protect themselves and feel safer on our streets.

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Explaining the weekly sessions, Dave. 54, said: "The self defence classes are a mix of theory and practical knowledge, based on my 25 years of self defence training in the police force.

"I teach really simple ways on how to escape and get out of difficult situations.

"Women and girls should not have to learn this type of training but unfortunately, this is the situation we are living in.

"So the classes are here to give them the option to learn these techniques and feel a lot more confident and safer on the streets."

Although Dave only has limited funding for the classes, he said that he would continue and expand them to men and boys if the support is there for it.

St Helens Star: Dean Owen and Dave Leigh, directors at No DuffDean Owen and Dave Leigh, directors at No Duff

Julie Roby, manager at the Chrysalis Centre which offers mental health support for local people, said that the classes have been a great success so far.

She said: "Dave has so much knowledge and experience, but is so down to earth [and] his approach makes the classes very relaxed which helps the women build trust.

"The classes are invaluable in raising confidence and awareness of all the different ways we can learn to protect ourselves, and build strength in our abilities.

"The women are loving taking part, for all of these reasons."

The hour-long sessions take place at the Wonderland Centre on Mondays at 10am and 6pm and Tuesdays at 6pm.

The Chrysalis Centre take place on Wednesdays at 10am, with another class starting up at Parr Sports Hall on Fridays at 4.30pm.

St Helens Star: Dave has been running the classes at the Wonderland Centre and Chrysalis CentreDave has been running the classes at the Wonderland Centre and Chrysalis Centre