An 'inspirational' volunteer led Blackburn group which encourages more women to take up an active lifestyle has won a national award.

Z’s Defence Academy (ZDA) works within Blackburn with Darwen to support and empower women of all ages.

The group was presented the '2023 Charity of the year' honour at She Inspires Awards for its work in ‘building confidence, role model to the youth, supporting the vulnerable, and serving the elderly’.

Zaynab Jogi, who runs the group, said: “It is wonderful to be honoured for the work the team do. We have a dedicated team of volunteers who support people across the area.

“They are all equally valued and empowered and want to make a difference in the lives of people.

“Our activities are not just recreational; they aim to promote health, foster social interactions, prevention work and encourage a connection with nature, which is increasingly vital in our fast-paced world.

“Through various initiatives, including youth work and senior care, we also aim to provide a safety net for those in need. We have different activities to suit everyone's needs.

“Our youth programs focus on personal development, volunteering and include nature therapy, which has been instrumental in improving mental health and well-being among younger participants.”

Z's Defence Academy has in recent years triumphed at the Blackburn with Darwen Sports Council’s Health and Wellbeing award, the UCLan University Awards and the British Muslim Awards.

Asian Image: Zaynab Jogi  is pictured at the She Inspires Awards held at the Bolton Stadium Hotel

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The group has launched a number of innovative programmes including ‘Stop Think Self-Defence’ (a six hour self-defence course) , which focuses on teaching women self-defence techniques, instilling confidence and ‘fostering a sense of independence’.

Zaynab, said: “The curriculum is designed not only to equip women with physical defence skills but also to strengthen their mental resilience in facing life's challenges.”

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Zaynab said the team now had plans hosting free sessions in the coming weeks for women.

She said: “This initiative, aimed at women aged 10 to 60 and above, is designed to introduce them to the world of self defence and the basic skills which could save your life”

The program will be led by Zee herself who is seasoned self-defence instructor with 17 years of experience in the field.

‘Black Belt Warrior’ will take place at Bangor Street Community Centre on Sunday 10 and Sunday 17 December, from 11am to 1pm.

These sessions consists of kickboxing, boxing, self-defence defence, wrestling, endurance training and yoga and are free.

For further details to on how to take part you can email or calling 07720 636847. You can also find out more at