WOMEN have taken part in a self-defence class at 450-feet in the air - as part of an international campaign to fight domestic abuse.

More than 20 participants attended the body combat class aboard the i360, to coincide with the UN International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women.

The event was organised by Brighton-based domestic abuse charity Rise, alongside Freedom Leisure, as part of new partnership between the two organisations.

The charity will train gym and leisure centre staff in recognising signs of domestic violence and how to support survivors.

Jo Gough, CEO of Rise, said: "The numbers of domestic abuse are extremely high - a woman is killed in this country once every three days, and this is predominantly by someone she knows.

"It is really important for our communities to recognise that domestic violence is in every street and, knowing that, they can talk to somebody and be pointed in the right direction.

"Our programme, 'Ask Me', is all about creating conversations and an environment where domestic abuse can be talked about."

Survivors of domestic violence were among those invited to the event yesterday morning.

One of the women attending the class, identified only as Marcella, said that such events help foster a sense of community and build new friendships.

She said: "I've found that exercise is a really big part in building my confidence. A class like this is quite empowering - it boosts my confidence and endorphins and helps people come together.

"Once you've met people a few times, it would make me want to do the classes again."

Rise are also organising a series of events as part of a global 16 Days of Action, which seeks to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls.

Carrie Reynolds, group active communities manager at Freedom Leisure, said their work with Rise will prove to be a valuable partnership.

"Women that have gone through domestic violence are needing that empowerment and that safe space to be able to recover from the trauma that they have been through," she said.

"We're going to be doing a whole empowerment project around women using physical activity to build self-confidence and personal safety.

"We all know exercise is good for your physical health, but we also need to use physical activity for our whole wellbeing."

The event also coincided with White Ribbon Day, which calls on men to call out inappropriate behaviour as and when they see it and not tolerate violence against women and girls.

A report put forward to the tourism, equalities, communities and culture committee of Brighton and Hove City Council recommended the council reapply for White Ribbon accreditation to reaffirm its support for the campaign.

Councillor Steph Powell, who co-chairs the committee, said: “With the shocking rise in domestic abuse reports we’ve seen nationally through the pandemic and several high-profile murders of women this year, the message of the 16 Days of Action and the White Ribbon campaigns are more important than ever.

"It's important to involve men and boys as ambassadors in addressing and altering social norms which lead to violent behaviour against women and girls.

“We fully support the White Ribbon pledge to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

“For anyone experiencing domestic or sexual violence, stalking or abuse in any form, please remember that you are not alone.

“It’s very important that no one should ever suffer in silence and that everyone feels safe in Brighton and Hove.

“Help and support is available. Abuse is a crime and it is not your fault.”

A spokeswoman for the i360 said: "Hosting the body combat class for Rise and Freedom Leisure is a simple task for our team but has the potential to encourage conversations, raise awareness and help those in need."

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