AN MP has praised the “outstanding” dedication of a local charity by nominating it for a Centre for Local Justice award.

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North nominated “A Way Out” for tackling poverty and helping vulnerable and young people in the town.

The charity based on Castlegate Quay, was launched in 2002 by Jessie Joe Jacobs when she saw a 15-year-old girl working as a prostitute. It now runs projects to to engage young people before they get involved in serious addiction, crime or sexual exploitation.

Mr Cunningham said: “I was delighted to nominate A Way Out for the Centre for Social Justice awards. They do outstanding work with some of the most vulnerable women and young people, both in Stockton North and beyond.

“Their contribution to our community, engaging with hard to reach groups and stimulating positive changes, deserves to be more widely recognised.”

Miss Jacobs, A Way Out Chief Executive, said the charity was now also working with people hit by the recession.

“As well as dealing with people most at risk we are now helping people struggling with food and financial pressures which can lead to addiction and mental health issues,” she explained. “Some people who are working are not making enough money to make ends meet.”

“We are thrilled that our local MP recognises what we are doing in the local area and is highlighting our work.”

The Centre For Local Justice Awards give prizes of £10,000 to groups across the UK that display innovation and effectiveness in addressing the root causes of poverty, turning lives around and reversing social breakdown.

A Way Out received another boost this week when it was presented with a minibus by former mayor of Stockton, Councillor Lynne Apedaile, who picked the charity as one of her worthy causes during her term in office.

The Ford Transit crew bus will enable to take small groups of vulnerable women on courses or days out as well as delivering food parcels to those in need.

“We’re absolutely delighted, “Miss Jacobs added. “This outreach vehicle has been a dream for some years and it’s amazing to see another of our dreams become a reality.”