Thursday, 20 December 2012

New Year - New Shoes...

With only days left until the end of the year many of us will be thinking through our New Year Resolutions already. It's where we pledge to make a change, to do something different, that will shape our lives in the coming 12 months.
Now for some of us that may be a diet or a promise to get to the gym, for some of the people who access our services it could be a life-changing decision to journey with A Way Out to see their addiction broken once and for all.
But one pledge we received recently is so memorable we just had to share it with you.
Last month we launched our 10:10 Campaign to coincide with A Way Out's 10th birthday.
 To celebrate our first ten years we held a special dinner party at Destiny Centre in Norton. On the night we heard from our CEO Jessie Jacobs, we were taken through the journey so far, we heard the empowering scripture from John 10:10, 'the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I come to bring life and life to the full,' we heard incredible singers bring to life our story and the stories of some of women we have helped, and together we had an opportunity to become partners with A Way Out in becoming regular financial givers.
Chloe Gray singing 'Read All About It' at our 10:10 dinner party
Well, not only did 27 incredible people sign up to give £10 a month, not only did we receive around £2000 in cash gifts, but we also received a pile of pledges too. And among them was this very special promise...

What's so incredible about this overwhelmingly generous gift, is that the road we have travelled from where it all began all those years ago, to seeing and helping more than 1200 people every year, is paved with stories just like this.
Whether it's people who give up their time to do a bag-pack, or local businesses who choose us to be their 'charity of the year', a women's group who run coffee mornings to raise funds for us, dance groups who stage events on our behalf, runners who do marathons in our name, service users who go on to volunteer, volunteers who go on to raise money, staff who work over and above - and you, reading our blog and joining us on the journey. It all adds up to an incredible story, with a new chapter being written by us together.
In actual fact, this pledge amounts to £800! And it's even more special because it was pledged by someone who volunteers with us. Thank you - you know who you are!
But when it comes to seeing lives changed every penny makes a difference. So we are always extremely grateful for all of you who say 'yes' when it comes to helping us.
And even in the last few weeks we have plenty of people to say thanks to.
To help us stage the dinner party without using much-needed funds from A Way Out's budget, Jewson, Naylors Chartered Accountants, Crathorne Hall, The Blackwell Ox and Barclaycard all sponsored the event.
Pastors Cath and Jonathan Harris gave us the use of Destiny Church, the room was beautifully decorated by amazing florist Adam Prest, as well as decor and table set up from Truly Madly Heavenly and Ruby Shoes.
We had PA and film support from Teesside University, David Coxon and Andy Rose, and Sean Johnson and James Head produced our incredible A Way Out 10:10 video (
Guests sitting down to enjoy the three-course dinner at the 10:10 Campaign launch

Following the event - and throughout recent weeks - the Christmas spirit seems to have caught up with many of you as we have been inundated with love and generosity time and again.

Thanks to Asda, in Portrack and Thornaby, for Christmas present donations and bi-monthly cash donations, to Destiny Church for the most beautiful donations of gift-wrapped 'smellies', to the students at All Saints School in Ingleby Barwick who donated these 30 beautiful hampers for our clients... and I'm sure there are many, many more of you to thank as the office is full of presents, wrapping paper and festive cheer!

It really has been an amazing year. But before we say goodbye and blog for the last time in 2012 I want to share one of my own personal highlights.

Popping downstairs one day I bumped into one of the girls who has been coming to A Way Out for some time. She was carrying shopping bags and looked exhausted.

"Where have you been?" I asked.
"Shopping," she said. "To get new shoes."

And from the bag she pulled plain, sturdy, black leather shoes.
They weren't fancy, they weren't glamorous, they were no good for anything that might happen on 'the streets'. But she was beaming about her new purchase.

I later learned she bought the shoes for her first 'real' job.

Your generosity throughout the last year has contributed to this one beautiful woman walk away from her past and into a future full of hope and possibility.

Merry Christmas,

with love,

from A Way Out xxx

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

What Could You Give this Christmas?

Christmas isn't always twinkling lights, plenty of food, presents, happy families and good news. Christmas-time can bring back difficult memories, and be a reminder of loneliness, homelessness, fear, sadness, desperation, debt. In the parade of lights, presents, gatherings and parties, let's remember those who are less fortunate and consider what we could do...

What Could You Give?

Many of the women and young people we work with can't afford to make Christmas special, or even buy their children a gift. Many of them are in desperate situations and Christmas-time is an added complication. We believe that Christmas is about good news; news of life and of freedom and of hope. We want to bless the women and young people we work with by giving them gifts. We are aiming to give out gifts to 100+ people. 

Could you help us bless them?

You could help us by donating £5 or £10 online to Just Giving, and putting 'Christmas Presents' in the reference, to do that just follow this link: DONATE A CHRISTMAS PRESENT

Alternatively, you could give by text. Just text love92 and the amount, ie love92 £10 to 70070 to donate £10 to A Way Out.

We are looking for presents suitable for women between 17-30, children aged 0-13 and teenagers. If you have a new present suitable, we would love it to be dropped off at our building, The Gate, unwrapped. Alternatively, Asda in Thornaby, they have a Christmas Trolley there ready to accept any gifts you are willing to donate. Thank you!

Here's some ideas...
  • alarm clocks
  • gift cards
  • lend us your advantage card to spend the points at Boots!
  • mini hairdryers
  • double duvet set
  • hot water bottle
  • home decorations
  • children's toys
We already have plenty of toiletries to give out, so any other gifts would be very welcome!

Many thanks to Destiny Church and Teesside University who are already doing collections for us.

If you would like to find out more, then get in touch with Sarah-Jane, who could give you a few more details. Every little helps - each £5 or £10 will bless an individual in need this Christmas.

Thank you.

Love from A Way Out x

*images thanks to seanmcgrath on FlickrRoberto Tim on Flickr
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