Monday, 20 July 2015


A Way Out would not be the organization it is today without willing volunteers.

With this continued support A Way Out has not only been able to develop the work of our projects, but has also developed our volunteer expertise, in fact A Way Out has won awards for delivery of volunteer training and just last month one of our volunteers won an external award for her endeavours in volunteering.
The journey of an A Way Out volunteer often commences with initial contact with the organization either:

·          Via our website or social media
·          By reading our monthly gazette column
·          By attending an event or church service featuring the work of A Way Out
·          Through contact with one of the local universities
·          Or by word of mouth, inspired by an existing volunteer

Potential volunteers are requested to undertake our comprehensive training course, having the option to apply for accreditation via the awarding body ONE AWARDS.
Once trained and DBS checked the volunteer is ready to go! 

They can help out in many ways:
·        work alongside our Women’s team during our drop-in and outreach
·        support our Youth Team at the weekly RELOAD sessions
·        pack food parcels
·        help out on Reception
·        or give a hand in the Cave cafĂ© with the local Sandwich round.

Some volunteers stay with us for a while and then move on, others stay around for much longer…An example of this is one of our Women’s Project volunteers who has now almost completed her medical training, yet still travels from her home in Durham each week to assist the team with evening outreach.  This offers valuable consistency in the lives of the women with whom we work.

There are two amazing gentlemen who arrive like clockwork early on Monday mornings to pack 30-40 food parcels for our drop in for vulnerable women. One of these gentlemen has volunteered with A Way Out for the last 5 years and travels in to Stockton from Sedgefield on public transport each week. 

The dedication of these two gentlemen, along with the rest of our volunteers is so very valuable and goes to prove that – “Volunteers are unpaid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!”

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Lunch Out with A Way Out

The past few months have been really exciting time for A Way Out. 

On 30th June A Way Out hosted ‘A Lunch Out with A Way Out’, an event attended by many of our major stakeholders and partner organisations.  The event mattered because we wanted to say thank you for all that had gone before, and to let everyone know that A Way Out remains committed to going the extra mile for all of the vulnerable women and young people with whom we work.

At the event, held in the centre of Stockton, we were able to present information about our work; the heart of A Way Out, the heart of our staff and volunteers, and the heart of our Trustees and our heart for continued commitment.  For well over a decade now we have done all we can to bring love, hope and freedom to vulnerable and at risk women, young people and families in Stockton on Tees, striving to see them living healthy, whole and safe lives, free from addiction, poverty and exploitation. And we know how much this matters.

From our guests we received very positive responses to the presentations. ..

“I hadn't realised what a 'substantial and serious organisation', AWO was”
“I knew that A Way Out worked with women but I had no idea how and didn't realise that the organisation worked with youth and families.”
“One of the things I picked up on was the 'quality' of the Senior Management Team, to me this denotes what a professional organisation A Way Out is.”
The ethos of A Way Out was described by one guest as “beautifully sensitive”
We also took the opportunity to talk about our about our heart for the future of the organisation. 
One exceptional and important part of our future journey is our achievement in being one of the winners of the Weston Charity Awards.  This prestigious award makes A Way Out one of only 12 successful organisations across the whole of the North of England working in the areas of youth, welfare and community.  The award will enable A Way Out to work with a team of senior business leaders through the organisation Pilotlight, which has been bringing together top business talent with charities of over ten years.  

The Garfield Weston Foundation’s Director, Philippa Charles, said:
“We’ve had an amazing response from charities across the North which are tackling some of the toughest challenges such as youth unemployment, mental health issues and homelessness. The twelve winning charities are not only doing great work but are ambitious with their plans - we are looking forward to supporting them to achieve their goals.”

Pilotlight’s chief executive, Gillian Murray, says: “Charities are telling us that they need support to plan for the future. Many have been hit by funding cuts and changes in the way their services are being contracted. By bringing together charity chief executives with dynamic business leaders we know these charities will benefit and become more sustainable as a result.”


On a sunny and rather warm Thursday back in April, I was interviewed for the post of Communications Facilitator at A Way Out. Thankfully, and rather obviously given I am writing this, they offered me the job.

Starting anything new brings with it a tangle of nerves, but I’ll be honest that perhaps I came to this with just a hint of smug self-confidence. I believed I could do the job. I know words and can string them together, and I knew quite a bit about A Way Out through some previous interactions with the organisation.

But on my second day something happened.
Having had my HR introduction and sorted out all things technical (I have an email address, surely I was ready to roll?), I trotted along to my first staff breakfast to meet the team and hear a run-down of the recent goings on.

Within a few minutes it was clear I had overlooked an important factor: I may have known the practicalities, been aware of the programme and read through the procedures – but I had missed the heart.

One of our women’s team shared honestly about finding out a young woman had tragically lost her life, and how she had wept tears of grief over the loss of this precious individual. But then she explained that later the same day she had cried again, although this time with tears of joy at hearing about positive steps another young woman had taken towards a healthy and whole future.

Tears of sorrow, tears of joy. Both extremes of emotion in just a few hours. This is the reality.

It is all very well knowing what I need to know and being equipped with the skills I need to have, but I realised that in order to honestly communicate anything at all I also needed to feel it.

A Way Out is about people, not numbers or statistics, but rather lives that truly matter. Faces that are downcast, tummies that are hungry, hearts that are broken. Our goal is to reach them, help them, feed them and love them.

We always need your help and are so grateful for your support, whether it is a donation of food or toiletries, a financial gift or the offer of your time as a volunteer. 
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