This is a tale of two halves; on the one side, community classes have been allowed to start back at our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan after many months of lockdown – but on the other side, we still are not allowed to provide our hands-on self defence training to vulnerable people.

As you can imagine, our centre is very popular with local groups. It is permanently kitted out with punchbags, battle ropes and Body Opponent Bags. It’s two thirds matted and one third gym space complete with free weights, kettlebells, cable crossover, leg press and spin bikes.

So, to provide a source of income for our charity, we rent our centre out to various groups in the evenings and weekends, outwith of our charity usage times, and so far we have over 60 children attending The Dance Depot, over 40 children attending McMillan Boxfit and about 10 children attending our own Krav Maga self defence and conditioning classes. That’s over 120 kids in our centre every week.

Add a Saturday morning Tai Chi class for adults and we have around 135 people using our centre each week.

Unfortunately though, there is another side to this story – we still have not been allowed to run our charity’s empowering personal safety training sessions as they require physical contact between participants.

According to a recent Women’s Aid Survivor Survey, 67 per cent of females who were experiencing abuse said it had got worse during the COVID-19 lockdown; 72 per cent said their abuser had more control over their life and 78 per cent said lockdown had made leaving their abuser harder.

But now we are out of lockdown and we have been inundated with female survivors of violence asking us to keep them safe – but we can’t as our therapeutic Personal Safety sessions have been put in the same class as contact sports.

And it’s not just female survivors of violence who need our services. According to The LGBT Foundation, domestic abuse involving lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people has more than doubled during lockdown. The charity also experienced a 38 per cent increase in calls regarding domestic abuse and a massive 340 per cent surge in visitors to their domestic abuse webpage.

The Zinthiya Trust (a charity dedicated to creating a society where people can be free from abuse and poverty) say 85 per cent of the women accessing their domestic violence services are from BAME communities. These women have struggled to access safe housing and other vital support because of their immigration status. Without options, they are forced to stay in violent relationships and homes where their lives are at risk because if they left, they would become homeless and destitute.

And children are also at risk with contacts to the NSPCC Helpline about the impact of domestic abuse on children increased by 32 per cent since the start of the lockdown. That’s one an hour.

So why can’t our award-winning self defence services, which are often done on a one-to-one basis and can be taught while wearing face masks, be allowed to restart? Why are people allowed to go into another person’s home to provide care and support for a vulnerable or disabled person, including helping them dress, but I can’t teach a vulnerable person how to escape from someone trying to undress them? Why can I get a full body massage in a spa but I can’t teach someone how to pull their wrist free from an attacker’s grasp?

These COVID-19 restrictions really don’t make sense – and if we have to wait until the country reaches Level 0 as we have been told, before we are allowed to reopen, I dread to think how many lives will be put at risk.

Our charity has been closed for 64 weeks now. Isn’t it time we are allowed to start saving lives again?

If you want to learn more, visit Until next time, stay safe.