Saturday, 14 April 2018

Courage


One definition of the word courage describes “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain WITHOUT fear” – but surely isn’t real courage the ability to experience such danger or pain WITH fear, and still face it head on?

A Way Out is a courageous organisation – a charity that has stood the test of time for the past 16 years.

A Way Out has courageous workers who support clients when they are in danger and in pain; engaging, empowering  and equipping vulnerable women, families and young people to live lives free from harm, abuse and exploitation and to reduce life limiting choices and behaviour.

Fear is part of everyday life for A Way Out and for many third sector organisations – fear for future financial survival in an economy where funding opportunities are reduced and competition for remaining funding pots is high; fear of not being able to meet the needs of our clients when demands increase and capacity is stretched; fear for the very existence of our clients as they struggle with so many life limiting issues… yet A Way Out and our clients face that fear and with courage and continue to succeed.

Sir Winston Churchill once said that “courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” - this is A Way Out – intervention, prevention and  listening  - mustering courage and, through trust and relationship, instilling the same courage in those we seek to help.

Monday, 19 March 2018

At A Way Out We Support

At A Way Out we support our clients, be they women, young people or families – all year round – and we make sure that we celebrate with them landmarks in their progress – this could be a young mum gaining the self-esteem to confidently step outside of her own home and attend an appointment unaccompanied; a young person having the courage to forget their past and follow their dreams;  a young woman securing accommodation of her own and living independently; or a woman celebrating freedom from drug addiction.  Each milestone is a victory to rejoice in and a moment to be remembered.

It is often the small things that make a real difference to how someone can be feeling – whether they are struggling with a bad day, or excited over a personal victory.  Receiving an unexpected gift can be that one thing that makes a huge difference to their day.  Sometimes that gift can be as simple as being on the receiving end of a kind smile, a friendly nod and a simple ‘Hello’.

Being in the position to pass on a gift, especially when it is unexpected, is a real ‘feel good’ moment – both for the giver and the receiver.

Here’s a challenge to be that person who lifts the spirits of others, to be that person who offers a kindly smile and make a change someone’s day.

Each year at A Way Out we aim to collect around 200 donated chocolate eggs to gift our clients to help to lift their spirits at Easter and let them know that they are loved.  If you would like to help by contribute  an egg or make a donation towards the work of A Way Out please get in touch via our email info@awayout.co.uk or 01642 655071.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day


International Women’s Day this week is an opportunity for women to look back and celebrate all that we have achieved so far. It is also an excellent platform to use as a catalyst for further change and gender equality; to reach out and embrace womanhood across the globe and across the North East.

The theme this year is “Press for Progress” a call to action to press forward and progress gender parity.

At A Way Out we are very aware of the girls and women who struggle to realise their true potential. We are aware of the harm, trauma, sexual exploitation and abuse that many women experience and are still subjected to. We advocate, support and strive every day to empower women and girls enabling them to speak up, speak out, recover and realise their ambitions.

Over the next two weeks A Way Out staff and volunteers will be celebrating with the women and girls with whom we work in order to recognise women’s life journeys  and achievements made to date. We will take time out to recognise those who fought for our right to vote and will be showing the Suffragette film. The women with whom we work with will also be encouraged to recognise and celebrate their own achievements and accomplishments. We will be joining together to identify the work that is still left to be done to bring about true gender parity.

A Way Out will be delivering specially themed workshops focussing upon the issue of sexual exploitation and the learning from Operation Sanctuary.  The workshops will inform our local service delivery, alongside providing a safe space for women to share their own experiences and to galvanise collective action to bring an end to this exploitation.

A Way Out’s Staff, volunteers and clients will be joining in the movement to “press for progress”.

“The Story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem.



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. 
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