Friday, 5 July 2019

The bigger picture...

It’s good to step back to look at the ‘bigger picture’… even better when there’s an opportunity to influence this on a national level.  This month A Way Out’s CEO, Sarah McManus, met in London in partnership with 5 other charities with Amber Rudd, Secretary of State and Will Quince, Minister for Family Support, Housing & Child Maintenance.  This invitation came following Sarah providing evidence in Westminster at a Select Committee discussing issues around universal credit and direct links to the increase in women involved in survival sex work.

A Way Out was invited in recognition of its expertise in this area and the part the charity plays in reshaping and bringing about change for vulnerable women, young people and families in this region.  We are proud that A Way Out ensures the voices of those we work with in Tees Valley are heard and can be instrumental in influencing the development of this system.

Collectively several concerns were raised including the delay between application and receipt of money and the impact of sanctions, demonstrating the difficulty for people to survive during these periods – a current direct influence upon offending rates and women moving into sex work.  Sarah also emphasised the complexity of the system for those already struggling with a range of challenges and vulnerabilities and this was also reflected in other areas of the country.  Highlighting the wider context, attention was drawn to the increased need for emergency food parcels and the Children’s Society prediction that by 2020 there will be 5 million children living in poverty in the UK  - all underpinning and reinforcing the hardship that this benefit is causing to some of the most vulnerable in our community, the very people it was intended to provide a safety net against such poverty.

The hope is that this is the start of ongoing conversations with agencies and charities in order to positively improve the current system.

By supporting A Way Out and you too are making a difference and be part of the bigger picture.  Find us at / / 01642 655071.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Mental Health Awareness

Last month A Way Out embraced Mental Health awareness with a 360 degree approach. 

Our Youth Service has focused upon wellness sessions delivered to local schools using soft meditation, creating ‘identity stones’ and encouraging peer support.  This has introduced the young people to effective coping strategies to support each individual in managing stress and anxieties related to personal and school life. 

A Way Out also supports female clients whose lives may have be affected by complex mental health needs some experiencing trauma generated from childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual exploitation.  We take a ‘trauma informed’ approach to support provided, with full consideration for each client’s individual experience of trauma and damage, as we support each to recovery and a future of security and hope. 

A Way Out also recognises that in order to provide effective support to clients and young people our staff and volunteers also should be well in themselves.  This month we devised and promoted a wellbeing programme for staff and volunteers detailing a menu of available options to support wellbeing at work including recognition of symptoms of stress and offering a selection of stress busting techniques provided by our in-house Psychotherapy Service.  Simple techniques such as concentrating on breathing, meditation, prayer, or undertaking a short distraction activity have a beneficial and calming influence and have proved useful for staff, volunteers and also with our clients.

A Way Out’s holistic approach contributes to the uniqueness of the charity which is celebrating 17th years of service this month.  This could not have been achieved without local financial and volunteer support for which we are extremely grateful. If you would like to be part of A Way Out’s future support please get in touch –, 01642 655071.

Friday, 10 May 2019

This month A Way Out has something new to celebrate.

We are one of a partnership of six charities successful in securing funding to help women affected by recent and historic sexual exploitation and grooming across the whole of North East and Yorkshire.  This partnership, collectively known as The STAGE Project is led by Changing Lives and includes A Way Out, GROW, Together Women, Basis and WomenCentre Calderdale and Kirklees and will provide much needed longer-term support in eight local areas.

The STAGE Project will provide a range of 1-to-1 support, drop-ins and specialist group work programmes, as well as specialist work in custody.  The project will enable the voices of the women to be heard to influence policy, and support our criminal justice partners to bring perpetrators to justice.  This intensive support has been identified as essential in maintaining the engagement of victims during the investigation and prosecution process and in addition the project will also offer long-term support during the months and years following while the women work through their experiences of trauma and rebuild their future.

A Way Out’s involvement with The STAGE Project will operate in addition to our existing projects (Liberty, Blossom and Youth & Families Service) which will continue to provide outreach, intervention and prevention to vulnerable women, young people and families across Tees Valley.  The collaborative STAGE Project will not only support the nationally growing number of identified grooming victims but will also work towards producing a national safeguarding framework and best practice guidance in order to support female victims of sexual exploitation.

If you would like further information about our work or would like to support the charity, please do get in touch via or 01642 655071.

Friday, 12 April 2019

A week in the life...

By Coasterman1234 at en.wikipedia
 of A Way Out is most definitely a roller-coaster sort of experience with unexpected sharp twists and turns, slow and strenuous up-hill climbs, exhilarating loop-the-loops, and joyful descents.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep things on the rails and maintain smooth running, with each individual member of our team an essential element supported by an equally vital team of volunteers – there’s no sitting on the side lines.

On a daily basis, A Way Out offers support to vulnerable women, young people and families who often feel marginalized or are experiencing issues in which they feel alone and isolated.  For some the roller coaster of life has become a relentless journey on a fearful downward spiral affecting every element of basic existence – health, relationships, personal safety and security - things have gone beyond control.  A Way Out services exist to reach out and intervene, to put the on brakes and prevent any further downward descent by offering advocacy and empowering support to get back in control and back on track.

A Way Out charity has been supporting the vulnerable in this area for the past 17 years and sadly we see local demand is growing.  In response we are expanding services onto the streets in new geographical areas.  Aiming to reduce further growth in demand, we have expanded our intervention and prevention work into local schools and prisons across the region.  

We can meet this demand only with your help… volunteer, donate, fundraise – don’t sit on the side lines - hop on board with A Way Out.  For more details please go to or call 01642 655071

Friday, 15 March 2019


In the midst of supporting our clients through crisis there are moments when the staff (and clients) of A Way Out are completely blown away by acts of random kindness.  In the past month the organisation received support from a wonderful lady, Becky Cunningham, who opened up her home inviting her friends and family to an evening of live music.  Besides providing an enjoyable evening’s entertainment, Becky and her friends raised a generous donation to support A Way Out’s core costs – an area of funding that is completely vital to running the organisation.  An equally wonderful gent, Craig, with parents and students from Zi Shiying Tang Soo Do also contributed a much appreciated donation.

Volunteer support is also an essential element of our service delivery and this month A Way Out said goodbye to Sue who has been providing volunteer support each week for our Monday Drop-in for a remarkable 5 years.  Sue has been such a reliable and resourceful volunteer she will be missed by staff and clients alike.

Offering support to others is a life changing experience. One volunteer who regularly supports A Way Out’s weekly night time outreach on the streets of Stockton described how the training and volunteering experience boosted her own self confidence and completely changed her approach to the vulnerable women we engage.

 Such support is enabling A Way Out, now in its 17 year, to strategically develop from its Stockton base, to meet an increasing need across Cleveland and the Tees Valley.  By taking up the opportunity of a life changing experience you can, in turn help to transform the lives of vulnerable women, young people and families in our local area.  For further information contact 01642 655071 or via

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.
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