Friday, 13 March 2020

A Night on Outreach




I recently joined the A Way Out team booming with enthusiasm and raring to get involved. I work in the admin office answering the phone, helping to recruit volunteers and ensuring everything runs smoothly.


In addition to my Admin role I volunteer with A Way Out’s Outreach Team in Middlesbrough. After completing the required volunteer training, I commenced my first outreach session, and with a little trepidation grabbed supplies and hopped into the van.


Whilst driving around the evening streets of Middlesbrough offering support to vulnerable women, it felt like a whole other world in comparison to walking these streets in the daytime as a University student.


We stopped the A Way Out Van offering initial engagement via hot drinks and food, whilst establishing requirements for additional support, and signposting the women to attend our new daytime drop-in located on Parliament Road.


Pulling into a street the temperature was freezing, and we encountered a shivering woman waiting alone.  We offered her a donated hat, scarf and a hot drink as we chatted about how she could access support.  

The staff member I was working alongside was amazing. Her kindness and passion for her job shone through and enabled her to approach the women in a manner that immediately put them at ease and encouraged them to open-up in an honest and trusting way. One thing that stood out to me most was a poignant question from a vulnerable woman… ‘Why are you being so nice to me?’


This experience is one I will never forget, and I look forward to continuing to offer this voluntary support along with sharing the impact of the work of A Way Out and encouraging others to support the organisation.


For more information about A Way Out  contact 01642 655071 or www.awayout.co.uk.

Written By Hannah Dodsworth - Admin Assistant.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Hope for the future


2020 marks the year in which A Way Out will come of age, in June the organisation celebrates 18 years of supporting the area’s most vulnerable women, young people and families.  For a local charity 18 years is an achievement, it is testament to the support received over the years; it is also testament to the need that has not abated... in fact it seems to be increasing.
 
Last year the organisation successfully geographically expanded working in partnership with the Prison service as ‘Sex Work Lead’ supporting women across the whole of Durham Tees Valley; an A Way Out worker in the PCC DIVERT team working to reduce the incidence of recidivism across the Teesside area and  has a key role in an expansive North East wide service supporting sexually exploited females through the STAGE project.  As an organisation we focus on asset based support and empowerment.

This expansion brings a ‘bitter/sweet’ feeling – whilst pleased that the expertise of A Way Out is acknowledged and recognised throughout many statutory and voluntary partner agencies across the region, the reality of hearing at first hand the full extent of the impact of historic and current trauma can be difficult.  The area rates high in national statistics which identify Middlesbrough as the lowest of 346 local UK authorities in the ‘worst place to be a girl’ statistics (Plan International 2016).

As A Way Out makes plans to celebrate its 18th year we would invite you to join us in raising the profile of the area in a positive way, a profile which highlights community support, strength and commitment to inspiring and enabling optimistic hope for the future.  You can do this by choosing to support the organisation financially or by volunteering.  Further details can be found via www.awayout.co.uk or ringing 01642 655071.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Start Afresh


January is often a time when people choose to start afresh, perhaps deciding to change lifelong habits, perhaps committing to learning a new skill; sometimes giving up after just one day, every so often achieving lasting success.

At A Way Out we encourage and empower vulnerable women, young people and families to commit to starting afresh what ever time of the year it may be… supporting clients to make that first step to transform their own lives.  Working in partnership with other support agencies, schools, housing providers, addiction recovery services, police, PCC, probation and prison service, A Way Out collaboratively offers support and guidance to enable life changing ‘new starts’ which we hope will last a lifetime.  Our dedicated staff and volunteers are there every step of the way and even when those steps take a backward tumble, A Way Out continues to offer positive encouragement and support… however many times it takes.
 
The success of our work is due to the commitment each staff member and volunteer makes to supporting every individual client, and to the strength of the collective support offered through collaborative work with partners.  By linking with Stockton Town Pastors who generously provide weekly use of their bespoke vehicle to use alongside our own, A Way Out offers weekly day time and evening outreach services across both Middlesbrough and Stockton.   Our evening outreach sessions are enhanced by the addition of staff from specialist services who join our team offering support in relation to domestic violence (My Sister’s Place) and specialist health care (CGL recovery service).  By working together we all make a difference in the lives of others.

It’s not to late to make a commitment this year to join us to facilitate lasting change –volunteering with any of our services / fundraising / helping to raise awareness – just go to www.awayout.co.uk for more info or ring 01642 655071.  

Friday, 20 December 2019

"Joy does not simply happen to us.


We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day” (Henri J M Nouwen).  At Christmas we sing ‘joy to the world’, a feeling encompassing momentary internal peace and contentment.  This sense of peace can be easily lost in pressures of attending social events, completing shopping lists and balancing household budgets.  ‘Joy’ may struggle to surface under the avalanche of seasonal demands.

A Way Out offers support incorporating an ‘asset based’ approach, encouraging and empowering women, young people and families to focus upon individual strengths; to find elements of joy in difficulties and crisis.  This approach unearths nuggets of internal peace when everything seems chaotic.  Recently, during an evening outreach, we supported a woman facing multiple crises… eviction; loss of belongings; mental health issues; abusive relationship; survival sex-work and struggling with addictions.  Whilst agreeing how to address these overwhelming difficulties she sat in the cosiness of our outreach vehicle and enjoyed fresh hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and she stopped shivering.  She tucked into sandwiches and the racing thoughts in her mind seemed to calm.  From a selection of donated hats, scarves and gloves she focussed her thoughts upon choosing a hat in a colour that suited her.  Looking into her small cracked hand-mirror she gazed at her own reflection wearing her chosen hat, and she smiled… a joy-filled smile, an instant of internal peace amongst crisis and chaos… in that moment she chose joy and experienced a tiny twinkling of contentment.  A Way Out’s work is long term, we will continue to empower her to transform her situation.

We encourage you to choose moments of joy each day and thank those who have supported A Way Out to bring joy empowerment and transformation.

For more info please visit www.awayout.co.uk or follow A WAY OUT Charity on facebook.


Friday, 22 November 2019

Winter Nights


I am writing this just before pulling on my warm waterproof to join A Way Out’s evening outreach team.  Weekly our teams reach out to women on the streets of Stockton and Middlesbrough.  As we prepare on this November night it is dark, cold and wet and we know we will come across women who, right here in our Teesside towns, are exchanging sex just for a roof over their heads, a sofa to sleep on… worse still some will be sleeping rough, often to escape violence and abuse.


In order to address this issue A Way Out is one of 29 charities across England to receive funding from Homeless Link’s 'Ending Women's Homelessness grants programme, funded by the Government’s Tampon Tax Fund. The funding will enable us to access and secure safe accommodation for each woman, away from harm and abuse; help the women to maintain their tenancy and improve our ability to connect with homeless women. Homeless Link's Assistant Director of Practice and Partnerships, Tasmin Maitland commented “We are delighted to be able to award A Way Out a grant that will have a real impact on the support that women experiencing homelessness in Stockton and Middlesbrough receive, and ultimately contribute to ending women’s homelessness for good.”

This grant will make a valuable contribution towards our work… but there is still more to do.  You can help us to support these women and young girls, especially during these winter months by donating non perishable food, hats and gloves, or consider A Way Out as part of your Christmas gifting by texting AWAYOUT £2, £5, £10 (or an amount of your choice) to 70085.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Being thankful


Being thankful is a really beneficial habit to practice.  Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “be thankful for the small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”  One of the strengths in the support A Way Out’s provides to clients lies in our ‘asset based’ approach – identifying and appreciating the positive aspects of an individual’s character and building upon these attributes to empower and facilitate personal change -  transforming lives and facilitating freedom from addiction, abuse and life limiting behaviours.

Identifying, daily, just one thing to be grateful for can bring a real sense of achievement and joy – being thankful can change perspective and help to put other issues into context.  Adopting an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is a great way show appreciation of self and others - the benefits of thankfulness are infectious!

Each year A Way Out dedicates a whole evening to being thankful – to reflect upon the successes of the past 12 months, appreciate the support the charity has received from others and the support the service has provided to clients.  

This year A Way Out’s Thanksgiving event is taking place on Monday 28th October, 7.00pm at Stockton Parish Church and we invite you to come along and experience the benefits of thankfulness for yourselves and receive our appreciation for the support you may have provided to the organisation over the past year – whether that has been by donating food, toiletries, funds or volunteering time – each contribution has made a huge difference in the lives of women, young people and families we support across Teesside.

You may wish to consider supporting the organisation over the coming 12 months and this can be as simple as donating a few tins of food or bottles of shampoo; putting aside some time to volunteer with our services or even sending a quick text donation by texting  ‘AWAYOUT 5’ to 70085.  Our service and clients are so very grateful for every element of support received.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Simple gestures

I received a personal card through the post this week from a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while.  She wrote that she wanted me to know that I had just popped into her thoughts and that she was thinking about me.  I was touched to receive this sentiment and to know that I had been important enough for her to find a card, put pen to paper and walk to a post box.  A simple gesture with a powerfully positive impact, with no strings attached and no demand for reciprocation.  The rest of my day was a normal one - some things went well and some things went not so well - but within the small moment of receiving and opening the card my spirits lifted, I smiled and I felt loved.

For many of the female clients working with A Way Out’s Liberty and Blossom services it helps to know that our workers and volunteers are offering unconditional support and that as an organisation we have ’love’ at the very core of our values.  We also actively encourage peer support to embed this culture - mutual support amongst our wellness sessions is a key element to encouraging a more positive outlook.  Recently within these wellness sessions our clients have enjoyed creating beautiful cards and small gifts portraying positive messages as encouragement for others.  In the coming months we hope that these items will be available to purchase to raise funds for A Way Out and to help us to bring a little love to the streets of Stockton.  Look out for further information about this on A Way Out’s facebook page and website www.awayout.co.uk.

A Way Out is also currently recruiting a team of volunteer Community Fundraisers to support the organisation and help to ‘spread the love’.  Full training and support will be provided.  For more information and an application form: https://www.awayout.co.uk/get-involved/jobs/
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