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Guest blog: Keeping all the plates spinning at A Way Out

Guest blog by Sarah McManus, CEO of A Way Out

I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother… and, for the last 18 months, CEO of an organisation called A Way Out – a charity now celebrating 16 years of supporting vulnerable women, families and young people in Stockton.

Like so many women, life can sometimes feel like a circus - a whirling carousel incorporating the ups and downs of operating under each of these multiple identities. There are plates to spin and hoops to jump through in order to keep everything going!

In the office there are meetings with funders to maintain the financial stability of the organisation - a formal handshake with stakeholders who are there to ensure the organisation is performing to an agreed and effective standard. Or greeting local MPs as we host an event to support the International day to End Violence Against Sex Workers - a warm handshake with those elected to represent our region at a national level and rally to change the world.

Within the same day my hands can hold together a women whose world has been torn apart.

At A Way Out we engage, empower and equip vulnerable and excluded women to live lives free from harm, abuse and exploitation and reduce their life limiting choices and behaviour. Women whose whole demeanour and self-esteem can be clouded by memories of abuse suffered in childhood; women whose outward appearance portrays the stark ravages of entrenched drug and alcohol addiction, poverty and homelessness; women displaying fatigue of sex working until the early hours; women whose eyes hold a tearful and desolate empty gaze of a lost identity - women who A Way Out recognise as individuals - as daughters, as sisters and as mothers.

It takes a strong point of focus to keep all of the plates spinning and to sustain inner strength and perseverance to jump through the hoops. I share a common focus with the staff of A Way Out and it is this focus which sustains and develops the organisation. It is our aim to restore an identity of self-worth for our clients to support them to a future of hope where they are recognised for who they really are and to enable them to realise their true portential.

Sarah joined A Way Out in November 2015 as the Services Manager bringing with her extensive senior management experience working at a strategic level within the housing sector for 11 years. She has also served as a Non-Executive Director on a housing Board for a local provider and is degree and professionally qualified. She was promoted to the role of Chief Executive in January 2017 and is committed to business excellence and supporting some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our community in this region.