Thursday, 28 July 2011

Reporters and Road Shows

This morning I arrived at work to find a BBC Tees van outside the building and a reporter inside interviewing Jessie our CEO. Slightly curious I found out what was going on...

You may have seen on the news and in the papers today, the reports that more and more teenagers are choosing to go teetotal. The NHS Information Centre will be publishing the results of an annual survey in a couple of weeks, revealing that figures for teetotal teenagers have risen to 49%. This morning the BBC was at A Way Out to find out Jessie’s response to this news and you will be able to hear sound bites from that interview today on BBC Tees Radio.

Daniel Radcliffe, Fearne Cotton and Jessie J, role models for
young people, have all made the move to teetotal.
We’re so excited about these figures that show more and more young people are choosing healthier lifestyles and getting fulfilment from taking part in drama, sport or other activities rather than binge drinking. Education also plays a really key part in informing teenagers of the dangers of alcohol so they can make healthy lifestyle decisions now that will impact their futures.

A Way Out plays its own significant part in providing alternative activities and education for young people. We have several outreach projects which include detached outreach, holiday activities and road shows to promote healthy lifestyles through interactive activities. For example, young people may invent their own smoothies and try non-alcoholic cocktails as an introduction to talking about the dangers of alcohol abuse.

Our outreach team have found that young people engage really easily with topics such as alcohol awareness through these road shows and they always come with lots of questions. What we have heard in the news today reflects what we see in the schools and estates in Stockton. We are encouraged to keep going as what we do has a very real impact on teenagers' lives both now and in the future.

Love from A Way Out x

p.s. this blog was written together with Niomi, one of our volunteers, who will be taking over blogging for a couple of weeks in August while I'm on holiday!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Where In The World...?

We've been aware that a lot of people who read our blog aren't in the UK and even if you do live over here, we know that you may not be local to Stockton-on-Tees where we work. I find it's really helpful to be able to imagine where people live and work if I can picture them geographically on a map. So this is where we are!

In some ways the North East is a really vibrant, exciting place to be. But in other ways, this is a really hard place to live and work. The North East has one of the highest rates in the country for depression, and Stockton has some of the worst rates in the region. Stockton-on-Tees is 33% higher than the national average for people with depression ( 

The North east also has one of the highest levels of deprivation in the country. Middlesbrough is ranked as one of the most deprived wards in the UK (according to the Indices of Deprivation 2010) and one third of children live in poverty ( In Stockton, nearly a quarter of children live in poverty (End Child Poverty).

It sounds pretty grim but things are changing. We've seen extraordinary turnarounds in the lives of women and young people. This map shows just a few things we get up to to fight poverty and depression in our area:

(Click on the map to see a bigger version of this image.)

This is only a glimpse of the wide array of work that we do in and around Stockton. Some things we can't shout about online because we need to be sensitive and protect the vulnerable individuals we work with. For more in-depth information, our website is the best place to find out more.

Love from A Way Out x

Thursday, 21 July 2011

10 ways You can help A Way Out

1. Give regularly, this could be anything from £1 a month upwards!

2. Like us on Facebook. This will keep you updated with everything going on.

3. Donate clothes which can be distributed to people who need them most. You can send them to The Gate, 1-2- Castlegate Quay, The Riverside, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1BZ or drop them by in person.

4. Follow us on Twitter. And (re)tweet about us too!

5. Donate tins of food for our weekly food parcels. You could drop off several tins in one go or just a couple on a regular basis.

6. Follow our blog and tell other people about it. It's a great way to get snippets of regular information. Why not get an email sent to you when we update? You can do this just to the right of your screen.

7. Compete in a sponsored event for A Way Out. You can book on the Middlesbrough 10k run now at
Let us now if you do and we can help you out with getting sponsorship. Or maybe you'd like to come up with your own idea for a sponsored event...

8. Volunteer at A Way Out. Whether you can help with a one-off event, or you can contribute time more regularly to help with some of our projects. Email

9. Become an ambassador for A Way Out. Organise an event to raise awareness, maybe a tea party where you show our video (here's the link), or a community football match.

10. Tell your friends and family about us. If you're reading this then we hope you already like what we do. Pass on the message!

Love from A Way Out x

Monday, 18 July 2011

Keeping Hold of the Vision

This morning at A Way Out, all the staff and volunteers took part in a vision morning. It was the first of the year and was a brilliant opportunity to review what A Way Out is doing currently, to think about where we want to be headed in the future and how we might get there.

We started off by watching this video together to remind ourselves why A Way Out exists. It's well worth watching all the way through.

One thing that really stood out in the presentations and discussions was the unique position that A Way Out holds in the community and charity sector. It has been a very challenging time for charities recently and many are losing staff or closing their doors all together. We are so grateful that we haven't had to implement these changes and that we are able to continue to reach out to vulnerable women and young people in and around Stockton despite trying financial times.

A second thing that struck me about A Way Out was the commitment that the team will be there for people no matter what and they will never give up on someone. A Way Out aims to see a full recovery to wholeness for every person it works with and we never lose hope in that aim despite working with chaotic clients who can often relapse. This attitude is illustrated in one of Jessie's blogs which she read out to us this morning. You can read it here

We're really excited about what the future holds for A Way Out. Over the next few years we want to go deeper, grow wider and reach higher as we move into a new stage of life for our charity. We hope you'll want to follow along with us.

Love from A Way Out x

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Boys Group Embark on Coast to Coast Cycle

This weekend a few of our project workers took six of the boys they work with on the Coast to Coast cycle route. We've met these boys through working on the Grangetown estate near Redcar and it is one of the toughest areas we work in. Some of the kids we have met struggle with problems of anti-social behaviour, violence and knife-crime, to name but a few things.

Fresh and breezy at the beginning of the cycle
The work that Mark and Pete, (our Community Development Worker and our Youth Worker) have been doing in this area has been life-changing for many boys. Mark and Pete spend time investing in young lives through activities such as photography courses and anti-knife crime projects and have also taken the boys away overnight on survival trips which include shelter-building, fishing, outdoor cooking and map reading.

A few of the lads found out recently that funding might be running out for the work in Grangetown and they decided themselves to organise a fundraising event to raise money for A Way Out and the Grangetown community work...

Probably slightly less breezy but with a sense of achievement

...Last weekend they cycled 100 miles over a day and a half from the east coast to the west coast of England together with Mark, Pete and Matty (Youth Outreach Worker). Five young people cycled the route and one, who was injured, rode in the car handing out water bottles along the way! These lads raised £400 for A Way Out, ensuring that the work in Grangetown can continue for the immediate future which is brilliant. It's so important to have be a consistent presence for people we work with, especially when so many other areas of their lives can be chaotic.

The next event that Mark has got lined up in the TS6 postcode area is a week away at Soul Survivor, a Christian youth camp in the south of England that attracts thousands of young people every year.Some of the funds raised from the Coast to Coast cycle ride will go towards paying for this trip in August.

Hope you enjoyed the read! Love from A Way Out x

Monday, 11 July 2011

Selling Strawberries to Save Lives

Just a selection of what was on offer at the Strawberry Tea Party

Here at A Way Out we love meeting new people. 
We love to partner with local businesses and organisations who also want to bring hope to those most in need in our communities. Soroptimist International is a worldwide service organisation for women. The local group in Stockton have nominated A Way Out as their charity of the year and have been supporting us in many ways. We are really happy to be working with them this year and enormously grateful for their support.

A team effort- Jessie and Sarah Jane with some of the Soroptimists

They held their first fundraising event two weeks ago in the midst of Wimbledon season. The sun was shining and it was the perfect day for a strawberry tea as staff, Soroptimists and supporters of A Way Out all got together.

Enjoying tea, cake and sunshine!

Our founder Jessie explaining a bit more about the work of A Way Out

And the Soroptimists raised nearly £500 selling strawberries! 
This will go straight into funding projects that reach out to women who are trapped in cycles of low self-esteem, addiction and sexual exploitation. Rebecca* is just one girl that A Way Out has been able to help. Before we met her, she struggled with severe depression that led to self harm and drug abuse but we have seen an amazing transformation in her life. Through workshops and professional counselling, she has grown in confidence and has taken awards in street dance and cooking. She no longer misuses drugs or alcohol and hopes to pursue catering further.

We really want to have more and more of these stories to tell! If you feel inspired to organise your own event such as a tea party or anything else you can think of then we'd love to hear from you. We can help out with ideas, support and resources to help you plan your own fundraiser and you too can help turn lives around. Just email Jenny at 

*name has been changed

Love from A Way Out x

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Rags and Muffins and some...

You may have already heard about all the new fundraising events we've been running this year. From golfing days to gig nights and tea parties to Total Warrior, there's something for everyone.

Some of the bargains up for grabs at Rags and Muffins

Sarah Jane (Community Fundraiser) and I (Jenny- Assistant Fundraiser) started work a few months ago at A Way Out and we've been working hard to put on some of the most exciting events in the area. Our first big event was Rags and Muffins, a jumble sale with a twist, held in the Dickens Inn in Middlesbrough. There were clothes rails crammed full of designer items at bargain prices, a champagne reception, scrumptious cupcakes and a catwalk show.

The day was a huge success, so much so that we promptly booked ourselves another date at the Dickens Inn to do the whole thing all over again. October 8th- keep the date free!

3 Foot Ninja entertaining

We followed up Rags and Muffins with a gig night, the first of many, at Doctor Browns in Middlesbrough. 3 Foot Ninja, fresh from INTRO festival were headlining and didn't disappoint with their energetic line up. The Graft supported with front man Pete Haley, our own multi-talented youth worker at A Way Out.

These events are lots of fun to organise and to attend but they're about more than just having a good time. Events raise vital awareness and funds for A Way Out which is so important to ensure the charity has a healthy future. Only last week we were able to rescue a girl from sexual exploitation and she now has a job, a home, friends and hope for the future; but that wouldn't be possible without events like this and the support of our friends.

Rummaging for bargains at Rags and Muffins

Delicious cupcakes provided by Truly Scrumptious cake designers

We'd love you come along to Rags and Muffins and gig nights to show your support- thank you so much if you've already done so! But we'd also love to see people engaging with what we're trying to do in Teesside whether that's by volunteering, joining our mailing list, following our blog, tweeting @awayoutcharity, joining our Facebook community, or simply telling your friends about us.

If you want to show support financially then our CEO, Jessie Joe is competing in Total Warrior in just one months time! This is a gruelling 10k test of stamina and mental determination set in the unforgiving Lake District terrain. Her aim is to raise £2000 for A Way Out and if you could contribute just a small amount towards that target then it could make all the difference. For every £1 we receive, we can fill a food parcel on a Monday afternoon with basic items that will feed someone for a week who may not otherwise get the balanced diet they need. You can give here and next month we'll show you the photos of Jessie's day out!

Well done for making it to the end!

Love from A Way Out x

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Welcome to A Way Out

Hello and welcome to the brand new A WAY OUT blog!

We are a charity in the north-east of England that works with vulnerable women and young people. (You can find out more on the 'About A Way Out' page at the top.)

The idea of this blog is to keep our supporters up-to-date with all the latest goings on both in the office and out and about. We're really excited about telling more and more people about this relatively young charity and the amazing work that it's doing in the lives of some of the most broken individuals in the UK. We'll also be talking lots about the fundraising activities we do and letting you know how you can be involved.

So whether you've stumbled on us by accident, you've just recently heard of us or you've been supporting A WAY OUT for years: thank you for stopping by, we hope you like it, and please do keep in touch.

Love from A Way Out x
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