Monday, 19 February 2018

Team work...

Recently, our General Manager, Anita, attended a meeting with the fabulous focus of working in ‘UNITY’.  Church Leaders from the area discussed a collaborative approach to supporting the whole of the Tees Valley in what they called a ‘City Vision’.  It was truly exciting to share ideas around being united together, utilising and sharing individual and collective skills for the common good. 

‘Team work makes the dream work’, ‘alone we can do a little, together we can do much’ - it is this very team spirit that enables organisations such as A Way Out  to strive towards our aim; - to engage, empower and equip vulnerable and excluded women, families and young people to live lives free from harm, abuse and exploitation and to reduce life limiting choices and behaviour.

An issue faced by the women engaged with our Liberty and Blossom service is that of ISOLATION.  These women have had their trust in others stripped away as a result of their experiences of abuse and exploitation.  They can feel alone with a loss of strength and can struggle to find a vision of hope for their future.  Isolation can also be an issue for some of the young people we support through our Youth & Families Services.

A Way Out’s staff team , supported by our team of dedicated volunteers, work to deliver our aim through evening outreach, daytime drop-ins and group sessions – together in unity we enable life changing things to happen.  This teamwork enables and encourages our clients to rebuild their trust in others, to build up their own strength and to see their own positive life vision.

We are currently striving to recruit more volunteers for our Youth and Blossom Services if you or anyone you know of anyone who may be interested please ask that they get in touch with us or go to our website and download an application form.  All it takes to join our teams is a quick interview, 4 short training sessions and a DBS check!

Easter is fast approaching too and we will be collecting chocolate Easter Eggs to present to our clients - it would be great if you would consider donating an egg or two!!
 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Memories...

As we start 2018, A Way Out's General Manager, Anita, is reminiscing about dancing with TV star Ashley Banjo and the Street Dance group Diversity seem like a very distant memories; indeed the filming for the TV show took place way back in 2013!  The rehearsals were an unforgettable experience which provided excitement and a welcome energy boost; involvement also fuelled her passion for the town and people of Stockton on Tees. 

Taking part in the show 5 years ago proved that it is possible to achieve the unexpected. Anita never imagined that she would ever be street dancing with a professionals on national TV (especially only 6 months out of chemotherapy treatment) and she says that the experience opened her eyes to the potential life changing benefits of ‘stepping out’ of her comfort zone. 

At A Way Out we are continually impressed by the variety of people who support the work of our organisation.  Our outreach and prevention work, supporting some of the area’s most vulnerable women, families and young people, captures the hearts of people who genuinely wish to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others.
Supporters have stepped out in confidence to raise funds and donations for A Way Out – like Freya, a young girl from a local school who rallied her classmates to buy homemade cookies; or Ivy who regularly encourages her keep fit class members to donate gifts for our clients; or Steve who, after 18 years of 6th Form teaching, chose to challenge colleagues to donate food for our food parcels in lieu of a leaving gift; or staff from local industry who fundraised for us for a whole 12 months. 
The delivery of our services to women involved in the night time economy of Stockton and also our work with local young people could not happen without the valuable time and effort of our fantastic team of volunteers.  We are currently looking to add to this wonderful group of people.  If you wish to make 2018 the year that you step out to make a difference in the lives of others, please get in touch via info@awayout.co.uk or 01642 655071.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Seasons Greetings.


A Way Out has taken time this week with our clients, staff, volunteers, Trustees and Chaplains Sylvia and Linda, to remember how the birth of a baby, so many years ago, brought a message of love and hope on a global, national and personal level.

A minute was spent in silence a week earlier as we remembered girls lost.  We marked the global campaign to End Violence Against Sex Workers in an awareness raising event attended by our partner agencies along side our two local MPs, Alex Cunningham and Paul Williams and Cleveland Police Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger.

At the beginning of the month we celebrated on a national level as an award was presented to A Way Out in Westminster recognizing the charity as winner of the Inspire the House, Kids Count Community Group Award 2017.  It was an honour to raise the profile of the North East and to demonstrate how the community of Stockton-on-Tees supports A Way Out’s staff and volunteers to address issues, with our work grounded in practicality and realism, to make a positive difference.  Our thanks to MP Alex Cunningham for nominating the organisation and for his heart for Stockton.

This Christmas has been a exceptionally special one for the clients of A Way Out who have been so very moved, on a individually personal level, by the breathtaking generosity of our community of supporters – from single school pupils raising funds / gifts and food collections, to classes, year groups and whole schools working together to generate valuable contributions; church and community groups; office staff; local and national businesses; and individuals – each donation bringing with it a piece of genuine love and hope, the power of which is priceless and most definitely felt and appreciated personally by each of the vulnerable women, young people and families that we support.

Christmas blessings from all at A Way Out and a huge thank you to all who have supported the organisation in the past year.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

November has been a busy month...


We have hosted an event of Thanksgiving at Stockton Baptist Church for local supporters and co-hosted a Regional Learning Day with guests invited from the main statutory and non-statutory service agencies in the North East region.
At both events a main theme was ‘identity’ – who you are, the way you think about yourself, how you are viewed by the world.
At the Regional Learning Day we were extremely honoured to host presentations by some of the  women with whom we work, those whose lives are synonymous with working in the night time economy.  Women who, at first glance, could have lives distinctively linked to addictions, homelessness and survival sex work – but whose longing and desire is to identified and recognised as a daughter, as a sister and as a mother.
At A Way Out’s Thanksgiving event we highlighted a story depicting a woman anointing Jesus with oil… in the story Jesus calls together his friends as asks “Do you see that woman?”…the story shows that  he gave her attention, when no-one else in the room did; he gave her a place in society; he acknowledged her love and service and he gave her forgiveness… because  he saw the woman beyond her past.  This is a direct reflection of how A Way Out reaches out, engages, advocates, with a non-judgmental approach and unconditional love – to support and enable vulnerable women and girls to reach their full potential.
We all have an individual identity which can be shaped by our own past and by those around us in the present and we can all help to shape the future of others.  You could take the opportunity to join A Way Out in showing love and compassion – especially during Christmas choosing to support the organisation with a seasonal donation of food or a financial gift. 

I remember...

...learning to ride a bicycle.  Firstly with stabilisers attached to the rear wheels.  Then the day came for the stabilisers to be removed and replaced by the strong and sturdy hand of my father, gripping the rear of my bike seat with him running along beside as I uncertainly wobbled along.  Dad would remove his steadying hand and I would peddle for a few feet before keeling over.  My confidence depleted, I pleaded for dad maintain his hold and run a long beside me, and he patiently persisted.  At the end of a long, hot afternoon I eventually, without even realising, travelled along unsupported, with dad standing way back behind me, in silence – hoping that I would not notice his absence!

Learning to travel along unsupported, maintaining the balance of our own lives, is something we can all strive to do and many of us know what it feels like to come across an unexpected bump which can unseat us, knock our confidence and even take us completely off course.  For the women we work with at A Way Out we can be that steadying hand and provide a reassuring presence to run along side, guide and steer a new, safer c  Our aim is to support our clients, working with them ultimately to a point of confidence where they feel secure enough to continue and maintain stability independently.
ourse.


Cycling has also resulted in a huge achievement for local fundraiser 89 year old Norman Franklin, who, along with his family cycled over 1000 miles and raised tens of thousands of pounds for local and national charities.  A Way Out is extremely grateful to have been chosen to be one of the beneficiaries of this amazing fundraising feat.  The funds donated will help A Way Out to continue to support some of Stockton’s most vulnerable women, young people and families – supporting them to make their own exciting and worthwhile life journeys.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Dream a Dream


Sometimes a song can invoke strong emotions – especially when lyrics echo a chorus of truth.    

A Way Out’s Liberty team engage and support some of Stockton’s most vulnerable women, those who are involved the darker side of the town’s nocturnal economy.  It is a challenging job, with highs and lows, changing dynamics and a polyphony of individual life experiences – with one central theme.  A theme very similar to a song from one of my favourite musicals, Les Miserables.  I cannot fail to think of A Way Out’s clients when I hear the song’s opening words There was a time when men were kind, When their voices were soft, And their words inviting ,There was a time when love was blind, And the world was a song, And the song was exciting, There was a time… Then it all went wrong”.
When life hits a discord for the women with whom we work the impact can be powerful with effects resounding in multiple aspects of their life, impacting their mental and physical health, housing, financial security and ultimately their very future existence. 
As the song plays on so does their story…. “But the tigers come at night, With their voices soft as thunder, As they tear your hope apart, As they turn your dream to shame”.  Powerful words, but even these lyrics do not fully express the scale and reality of what women face while in the grips of addiction and exploitation. When we initially engage with these women we see their plight reflected in the lyrics “I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I'm living, So different now from what it seemed, Now life has killed the dream I dreamed”.

A Way Out exists to resurrect those dreams, restore and build upon a chord of hope, change the dynamics and create a new rhythm. A Way Out creates a new song for vulnerable women in Stockton, one of hope and a stable future. 
You can support our work – for further information please go to www.awayout.co.uk or contact us on 01642 655071.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Safety and fears...


The Transporter Bridge is the longest working transporter bridge in the world and is a strong symbol of the Teesside’s engineering, industrial heritage and instinct for survival.   For this iconic local landmark 20th August 2017 was just another day, but for me this was the day I faced one of my fears.  At 9.30am I abseiled from the very top.

This aged yet solid and stable structure supported my trembling legs as I ascended 160 feet via 9 flights of stairs.  Clipped to safety ropes I slowly edged my way along to the very tip of the structure.  Strapped into the harness and under the expert guidance of the instructors, I nervously stepped into nothingness, 50 meters above the ground, and made my descent.   

One very important and comforting element of this experience was the safety rope.  Attached with careful precision, I was assured that this rope would ensure a safe journey and landing.  Although my descent and touchdown was a perfect experience, I was glad of the additional security of this safety rope.

For the vulnerable clients of A Way Out, our Liberty and Blossom case workers can be that safety rope when all else that provides grounding and security in life seems to have disappeared.  Our case workers offer a valuable life line, helping to provide support, love and hope, guiding our clients to safety through uncertain and difficult times.
You too could offer support by volunteering with A Way Out’s services, or offering funding support.  There is still time to make a donation to our abseil appeal via http://bit.ly/2qSzNs5, or simply contact us 01642 655071, info@awayout.co.uk, or see our website www.awayout.co.uk for more information.
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