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 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, or simply contact us 01642 655071,, or see our website for more information.

Monday, 7 August 2017

head shaving,channel swimming, abseiling and national cycling support for A Way Out!!


There are many great highlights in working for a local charitable organisation.  One favourite is meeting the diverse, interesting and genuinely kind people who choose to support A Way Out.
So far this year support has been provided through sponsorship by a brave lady shaving her head; another abstaining from her obsession with taking selfies;  yet another swimming an exhausting equivalent of the English Channel; and a full group of women ascending Roseberry Topping.
This month a local family have chosen to celebrate a milestone birthday in an inspiring, generous and strenuous way.  They will be cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats over 3 weeks, a journey totalling over 1000 miles, with hills equating to more than twice the ascent of Mount Everest. 
Norman Franklin, 89, and three of his sons (Andrew, 60; Tom 58 and Sam 54) and two of their partners Caroline Elton and Anne Bulmer are aiming to use their pedal power to really move up a gear and raise £100,000 for a number of local and national charities, choosing A Way Out as one of the beneficiaries. 
The group have been training hard for the gruelling trip and will be pushing off on their journey on 13th August.  You can follow their progress and encourage from the side lines by offering support via their website  The funds raised for A Way Out will provide valuable financial support enabling the organisation to continue to positively impact the lives of vulnerable and excluded women, families and young people in Stockton. 
Why not pop along to the Transporter Bridge on Sunday 20th August at 9.30am to cheer on our very own A Way Out staff Youth Outreach Worker,Helen and General Manager, Anita, as they abseil from the top of the Transporter.  They aim to jointly raise £1000 and are over a quarter of the way to their target, you could help make this effort truly worthwhile by donating via the following link:

This type of support is so appreciated, not only in providing essential financial provision but also sending a unique and treasured message to our beneficiaries… that people really genuinely care… and you cannot put a price on that!
If this has encouraged you to choose to use your time and energy to the benefit of others please take a look at our website or get in touch (01642 655071).

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


is a humbling and encouraging aspect of A Way Out’s working environment – basic qualities of kindness, decency and generosity.  

One thing about “goodness” is that it is infectious!  The women and young people who receive assistance from our services often desire to “pass on” the generous love and support they receive.  Recently a group of young people benefitting from our Youth Service volunteered to help Billingham Foodbank; women from our caseload supported when A Way Out hosted a recent meeting of national influence – the women bravely spoke individually to raise awareness of the strengths of the organisation and challenges they themselves face.

Recognition is also an sustaining encouragement, Barry Coppinger, Police Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, recently stated, “A Way Out are doing ground-breaking work and are an important part of the solution in supporting vulnerable women trapped in survival sex work, addiction and poverty.  I’m delighted that recent visitors from a government department were able to witness first-hand the excellent partnership and multi-agency work in Cleveland and I encouraged them to consider using A Way Out as a blueprint for services across the country.”

“Goodness” cascades from the very top of our organisation, governed by gifted and professional volunteer Trustees.  We are particularly delighted to welcome Rob Thompson of Thirteen to the A Way Out board, bringing a wealth of valuable experience.  Daily our services are delivered by dependable hard working staff, sustained by the goodwill and dedication of trained volunteers and donations and support from the community near and far.

To top off our good news, this month secured the formal appointment of Sarah McManus to the role of CEO.  Having undertaken an interim role for the past 6 months, Sarah epitomises the qualities of kindness, decency and generosity, and has already demonstrated to be a strong and innovative leader.

Would you like to spread this infectious “goodness” and be part of A Way Out’s good news? Contact 01642 655071 or for information about volunteering or supporting

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

It is 15 years...

since A Way Out first started supporting vulnerable women, young people and families in Stockton. 

Our longest serving staff member has clocked up an impressive10 years with the organisation, offering one of our most valuable services.  Franca, our in-house Psychotherapist, has delivered a decade of therapy sessions. 

Traditionally a 10 year anniversary may be celebrated with tin or aluminium. Aluminium, known for possessing excellent resistance to corrosion with highly adaptable strength, is great for joining things together and these qualities could aptly describe the mettle of our Franca. 

Franca’s on going service to A Way Out has stood the test of time…without corrosion!   Her adaptable person centred therapy sessions provide a service that is strong, solid and reliable for each individual client.  As for joining things together, Franca is a superb in connection with our staff teams to equip the whole organisation with valuable knowledge and techniques to better support our clients.

Aluminium is also a good reflector of light and Franca too has an innate quality in enabling self recognition and appreciation of each individual’s own shining, positive qualities.

Under Franca’s watchful co-ordination, A Way Out’s Psychotherapy Service is supported by a small team of valuable volunteer counsellors – one of A Way Out’s many volunteering opportunities.

A Way Out is very grateful to Franca for her 10 years of dedication and the charity is looking forward to further developing and building upon the Psychotherapy service in the coming years. 

It is our hope that we will continue to celebrate decades of service with an increasing number of staff, volunteers and supporters. 

If you wish to discover how you can support A Way Out in making a positive difference to the lives of vulnerable women, young people and families in Stockton, please get in touch – 01642 655071, or

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Surviving or Thriving?

There are never two days the same at A Way Out – our working days are always unpredictable, sometimes frenetic and usually eventful.  The lives of many of our beneficiaries follow a similar pattern – theirs can be a result of a mixture of vulnerability, addiction and exploitation. 

We support these women in all aspects of their recovery, working with partnership agencies and our own internal services.  Psychotherapeutic Counselling is one in-house provision that A Way Out is proud to offer.

This week has been Mental Health Awareness week and within our centre we made a conscious focus upon this year’s theme – ‘Surviving or Thriving?’

As I write a pot plant sits on an opposite windowsill – it’s roots are parched, cracked and dry, the plant has faced the cold winter and now the harsh glare of the early sun, neglected and forgotten and yet still battling to sustain life, to produce just one more flower bud.   

We often talk about ‘survival mode’ – whether it’s just getting through a bad day or persisting through adversity; enduring, we try to press on.  This is a battle that can take its toll both physically and mentally, right to our very roots. 

During this week of mental health awareness A Way Out’s counselling service provided relaxation and mindfulness sessions for beneficiaries and for our hard working staff - a peaceful haven of reflective calm, rejuvenating and refreshing.  

The aim was to encourage us all to thrive and learn to sustain this perspective each day.  This approach fits perfectly with A Way Out aims to encourage all of our beneficiaries to look positively upon their future in order to flourish and ‘grow well’.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Beauty from broken pieces

A Way Out celebrated Easter in style with our own ‘installation art event’.  We showcased the talent of our beneficiaries who designed and created colourful mosaics, transforming broken tiles into stunning and meaningful pieces of art.

For some of our women the artworks are a poignant image of how, when life falls to pieces, fragments can be rescued and brought together to form something new, beautiful and long lasting.  Just like the women with whom we work, each piece of art is entirely unique, each with its own individual story.   

Once piece demonstrates a heart held between two hands - the women attending our drop-in explained their aim to express how A Way Out provides them with support, holding their hearts securely. 

Another depicts a boat floating on the sea – a young women involved in our Blossom Project explained her life, like the sea, can turn stormy.  However, the boat symbolises A Way Out protecting it’s passenger from the elements.  Other times the sea is calm, with the boat providing a vessel to further the journey and enjoy the ride.  

A Way Out is all of these things – unique; safe; supportive; a haven in the storm; a place to transport vulnerable women to a future where they can enjoy life’s journey. 

The mosaics will remain on the walls of our Centre as a permanent reminder that beauty can be created from brokenness.

Thanks to the generous response of local individuals, groups and businesses our Easter Campaign has been a huge success. We gifted all of our beneficiaries and their children with chocolate eggs.   We all have the opportunity and ability to contribute a piece towards positively transforming a broken life.
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