Friday, 15 February 2019


Last week the clients, staff and volunteers at A Way Out contributed to ‘Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week’.  The campaign, designed to highlight that sexual abuse and violence of any kind is not ok, is a movement that is very close to the heart of A Way Out.  As an outreach, prevention and intervention charity working with some of the area’s most vulnerable women, young people and families the organisation is often involved in supporting those who have suffered in this way.

Using the hashtag #itsnotok we encouraged women attending in our weekly drop-ins to openly explore their own reactions to this campaign and create powerful individual statements - ‘It’s not ok to assume my consent’, ‘it’s not ok to be controlled’, ‘it’s not ok to live in fear’, ‘it’s not ok to harass women in the street’, ‘it’s not ok to blame the victim’ are just a few of the declarations the women produced.  Discussing and producing these statements empowered the women, they felt included and involved in part of a strong movement that is recognized nationally and they felt that they had been given a voice.

It is only by speaking out and raising awareness that we can affect change.  Working in partnership A Way Out are firmly in position across the area to offer advocacy and support, empowering our clients to find courage in their own voice to say ‘it’s not ok’.  Our staff offer a trauma informed approach facilitating and empowering each woman towards a safe, secure and stable future.

To support A Way Out please go to or contact 01642 655071.

Friday, 18 January 2019

A sense of purpose

A group of women supported by A Way Out met last month with a new sense of purpose.  Women who had never before used their voices to sing, rehearsed and performed together as the most beautiful choir at our Carol Service and now they are already planning for Easter! 
It was also with a real sense of purpose that supporters visited A Way Out last month.  Their purpose was to help to share seasonal goodwill with those most in need and this was most definitely fulfilled!  

The staff and clients of A Way Out would like to express their heartfelt thanks to each and every supporter; your generosity motivated our clients to attend our centre where each received gifts and valued food to support them during the holiday period.  This also enabled our staff to provide clients with individual safety plans which assisted in maintaining support during a time that can be particularly stressful.

For the vulnerable women, families and young people whom A Way Out supports finding a sense of purpose is an essential motivator, it is a key to positively sustaining a fulfilling and healthy future. 

A Way Out is offering the opportunity for you to fulfil a sense of purpose in supporting all of our Services.  We are particularly in need of support for our Youth Service.  You could be the person to empower a young person who may be experiencing the confusion of adolescence, to find that life changing ‘light bulb’ moment – the moment where real self-esteem emerges and a tangible and individual sense of purpose is embraced.  If you are over 18 and willing to give up some of your time on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Fridays between 2.30pm - 6.00pm, please get in touch via or phone 01642 655071.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Just days ago...

while receiving generous Christmas donations of seasonal food and gifts from the local community a woman arrived at the door of A Way Out.  This woman was victim to an unknown substance and had managed to make her way across town entering our Centre barely conscious.  We awaited the arrival paramedics and placed her in the recovery position in our Reception area.  She lay amongst the carefully wrapped gifts, amidst twinkling Christmas lights, drifting in and out of consciousness.  A poignant Christmas image; the juxtaposition of glittering parcels of generosity, love and functioning traditional family values, against the plight of desperation, isolation and malicious attack.

This week A Way Out marked International End Violence Against Sex Workers Day with an event attended by 30 of our partners.  In one touching moment a woman, who is now settled and secure, shared her video diary in which she described the pain and degradation of her past life and reached out in the hope that others in the grips of addiction, may also discover the strength to accept support from A Way Out.   In a time of reflection we remembered those women lost to us and hoped and prayed for recovery for those women whom we currently support.

As we look towards the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus and remember the light of his unconditional love, we give thanks for the support we have received during this past year and we pray a special prayer for those who are vulnerable, exploited, homeless, in poverty and suffering from addiction in the hope that 2019 will be the year that they see the light of hope.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Are you a list maker?

Working for A Way Out I know that I couldn’t function without making a to-do list.  I have even been known to add things to my list that I have just completed, simply for the satisfaction of proving the task is accomplished and the fulfillment of placing a big tick beside the chore!

Psychologists speak of the benefits of list-making in terms of reducing anxiety and enhancing performance encouraging non-list makers to give it a try.

Christmas is the prime list making season – children writing wish lists to Santa cataloguing hopeful dreams of treasures to be found beneath the tree; gift shopping lists; food shopping lists; card writing lists.  Checking it once and checking it twice, just to make sure no task and no one has been forgotten.  If list-making reduces stress, now is definitely the time to start the habit.

A Way Out’s Christmas list includes 200 selection boxes; seasonal food for over 100 Christmas food parcels; around 100 special individual gifts for the women and girls on our caseload; securing cash donations to provide a special Christmas dinner for our clients to enjoy together around a table.  Many of our clients don’t appear on any other list.

Could you donate to support our clients? Why not place A Way Out on your Christmas to-do list and feel the satisfaction, when you place that big tick beside the completed task, in the knowledge that you have also helped to make Christmas special for someone who may not appear on the list of anyone else.

In order to distribute in time we need to receive donations by 14th December.   For further information please contact or 01642 655071.

Written by Anita, General Manager

Friday, 16 November 2018

Love still stands...

My role at A Way Out has become even more exciting this month as I have incorporated part time studying alongside my work responsibilities.  My brain is getting used to switching from managerial mode at the office to student mode in lectures.  In the first weeks of the term there has been so much to take in that my brain capacity has had to stretch …. other mature learners will share how I feel when I say it’s like I need to grow a second brain!

I remember a similar feeling awaiting the birth of my second child… time I considered how much I loved my first born with all of my heart… so where was I going to find more love?  I learned that we don’t possess a limited quota of love and when my second child appeared the love appeared aplenty… I’m just hoping the same will apply to my brain capacity as my studying progresses!

As we approach the season of ‘goodwill to all’ (in less than 2 months) our challenge could be for us each to increase our capacity to love.  One of my favourite bible verses says  Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”

Christmas is a time when A Way Out shows some of Stockton’s most vulnerable women, families and young people an extra portion of love - ensuring each has a gift, seasonal food, and a celebration to attend.  We can’t do this without you sharing some of your love too – please consider donating a Christmas present or cash gift and help us show that love still stands when all else may have fallen.

Written by Anita, General Manager

Friday, 28 September 2018

Down to earth compassion...

One of my roles is to visit local community groups to provide updates of recent developments.  I speak of outreach, intervention and prevention undertaken by A Way Out’s dedicated staff as they support vulnerable women, families and young people in the Tees Valley area.  Maintaining confidentiality, I tell of joyful and heart wrenching case histories and without exception I am stunned by the sincere consideration and concern shown by those listening.

This region is often a victim of ‘poverty porn’ presented by national press and TV depicting deprivation and poor health – the truth is that our area is truly rich in kindheartedness, benevolence, concern and down to earth compassion – and we see this every week at A Way Out.

The lady who prays daily for our clients and staff; the retired couple who home bake each weekend in preparation for our drop-in for vulnerable women; the dedicated volunteers who collect donated food and pack 50 food parcels a week for distribution to those in need; the schools, churches and community groups holding fundraising events – none of these people ever meet our clients face to face, yet our clients know that through these actions they are loved – and that means so very much.  We talk of actions speaking louder than words and in this case it is completely true.

For women and young girls who have experienced intense and prolonged hardship, hurt or abuse the knowledge of a community who care enough to give up time to be kind and caring makes a huge impact.

This month we held a special drop-in session providing an opportunity for our clients to express thanks for the support received, they wrote “for all your love I thank you.”  “Thanks so much for showing us love and support – may God grant you and your families love always”.

Be part of the good news …

You can contact A Way Out via, 01642 655071 or email

Written by Anita, General Manager

Friday, 31 August 2018

Wrong Direction...Wrong Destination

Recently I collected a friend from the airport.  The first time I had driven this 2 hour journey alone.  Assisted by navigation equipment, all ran smoothly until I arrived in the vast expanse of the airport.  In the confusion of multiple road signs, heavy traffic and unfamiliar surroundings, I attempted to drive to Terminal 2, but found myself heading directly to Terminal 1 – trapped in a busy flow of unyielding traffic, no opportunity to stop or change course – heading in the wrong direction to the wrong destination. 

The automated voice that had guided me to this point was demanding  perform a U-Turn where possible’, my friend, now in arrivals, was ringing my mobile … my stress levels were rising and still I could not change direction.   Thankfully the situation was easily remedied.  I pushed a button at the exit of Terminal 1 and explained my situation to a friendly voice who directed me back on route.

Moving into adulthood alone can feel like navigating through unfamiliar surroundings - with many things and people influencing direction and raising stress levels, it can be all too easy to steer off course.

A Way Out’s Blossom project is a guiding voice that can pull up alongside vulnerable young women to provide a supportive navigation system to put lives back on track.  Many local agencies and organisations make referrals each month to direct the path of struggling young women towards our Blossom project.  By offering support and guidance A Way Out’s Blossom team empower young women to stop in their tracks, make changes in direction and head of on a new, exciting and positive route.

Written by Anita Burke, General Manager

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