Funds bid for Gloriavale leavers

Mothers and children from the West Coast Christian community Gloriavale. Image: TVNZ via RNZ
Mothers and children from the West Coast Christian community Gloriavale. Image: TVNZ via RNZ
An online crowd-funding campaign has been set up to raise money for people who flee Gloriavale Christian Community on the West Coast.

The Gloriavale Leavers’ Support Trust is looking to raise $100,000 to employ a support worker and provide funding support for people who turn their backs on the religious community.

The most recent family to leave got out at the weekend.

The couple and their seven children staged their exit, the husband leaving with some of the children four weeks ago and the wife and the remainder of the children escaping at the weekend.

Trust manager Liz Gregory decided to launch the charity after working with defectors in an unofficial capacity since one of the escaped families turned up at her Timaru church six years ago.

‘‘Everything is new to them. Imagine just waking up one day and your 30s, with 10 or 12 children, and you need to start life again from scratch.’’

Ms Gregory likened the experience of reintegrating former Gloriavale members with that of resettling refugees, with some added emotional baggage.

Gloriavale defectors were leaving a thought control group and helping families adjust was an ongoing and demanding process, she said.

‘‘It’s become really apparent that it’s a full-time job having someone co-ordinate a family or individuals when they leave.

‘‘What we offer as a trust is help, support, guidance pointing people in the right direction with support agencies and other groups.

The family that left Gloriavale over the weekend have found a house in Canterbury.

One of their most urgent needs is a 10-seater vehicle. 

Ms Gregory is hoping the money they raise would pay for things like this and other necessities as they help families to reintegrate back into society.

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