It’s hard to know where to begin;
Many of you will have supported A Way Out for a long time and have followed our journey over the years, as we have endeavored to reach out to our communities most broken and marginalised people.
Seeing an end to addiction, poverty and sexual exploitation, amongst women and young people in Stockton, has been what I have given my life to for over 11 years. I have been part of, and had the honour to lead, an amazing team, that have courageously built something very special, that penetrates deep into the heart of this issue. We offer love, build hope and bring freedom to individuals all over Stockton-on-Tees. We have seen many, many lives turned around. People who were trapped in addiction, find freedom, people without a job, find work, girls who were homeless, find somewhere to live and women forced into prostitution find ‘a way out!’ It has been an exciting roller coaster of a journey, with highs and lows, challenges and successes, and as I look back, I really do have a very thankful heart. A Way Out has grown from a small community project, with £42 in the bank, to an organisation that is locally, regionally and in some areas, nationally recognised. We employs 22 people and brings in close to half a million pounds of funding into Stockton every year, to help women and young people.
God has been faithful and we have seen him work in miraculous ways, growing this project of small beginnings into a charity that has seen many people reached and many lives transformed.
It is in this season of thankfulness that I sense we are coming to a season of change. We have achieved much but there is still much more to do; the need continues to grow and the ability to respond to that need is vital. As I reflected on the direction A Way Out needs to take over the next few years, and also of my own hopes for the future, I began to sense that it was maybe time to hand over the reins to someone new. I always felt that my time here at A Way Out would come to an end one day, often feeling I was its carer as opposed to its parent. I know, however, that even parents have to let go of their children one day and allow them to stand on their own two feet. It is only in the letting go that we see what kind of a job we have done as a parent; did we build the right foundations, teach the right lessons, instill the right values?
Everything I have seen over these last few months and even years, give me the sense that something special will remain here, and that it is time to hand over the reins. We have an incredible team, some inspirational projects and a strong sense of togetherness. It is with this confidence that I have decided to step down as chief executive in April of next year. We will be beginning the recruitment of a new Chief executive immediately. Looking for someone who can consolidate all that has been achieved here, whilst leading A Way Out into the next stage of it’s journey.
It will be sad to no longer be at the forefront of all that happens here, but my heart will continue to be for our work. As such I will continue, where appropriate, to play an ambassadorial role for the organisation. Using the many opportunities, which come our way, through the media, within the Church and across other networks to raise awareness and resources. I hope you will remember us in your prayers and be mindful of us as we seek to find a new Chief Executive.