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Spirit Army is a community-led solution for struggling families providing the support and a whanau of fellow families & volunteers.
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What families are eligible?

Spirit Army is for families that are barely coping to provide for themselves and desperately want a better life for their children. Drugs and alcohol addiction can be a stage on the journey of families finding their feet but we are not geared to helping families until they have passed this phase and are ready to make a clean run at life. 

How do we find families?

Our families may be referred to us from agencies or schools, through our support network or come directly to us. Because we work closely with families, and we are building a tight whanau we restrict the number of families to ensure we can work with them in a quality manner.

Trial Run

It’s a relationship and we begin by quickly assessing any prospective family. A family may then be given a trial period to see if Spirit Army works for them and they gel with our approach.


At this point the family will have manager/founder Gerry Forde as their mentor and the family will see if they can benefit from our mentoring and what type of mentor will suit them post-trial period. The family will also come along to our whanau fun nights and see if they can gel and enjoy the company and activities.


If it is clear that a trial family will benefit from Spirit Army, the family is invited to become a member and sign an agreement that clarifies the nature of the relationship and what is expected on both sides.

Spirit Army agrees to provide:

  • A Mentor guide to improvement

  • Support and access to variety of community services

  • Social Group/whanau 

  • Veggies

  • Cheap Firewood

  • A community of volunteer support

  • Donated goods when needed

  • Certificates and rewards for achieving key milestones


Family Agrees to:

  • Work alongside a mentor

  • Set up a “no worries budget” with Jubilee 

  • Attend Fun Night least once per month

  • Give back to the group in some way, eg: gardening, firewood, baking, packing/delivery, running a fun night

The Life Cycle of a Spirit Army Parent

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Success Story

She lay on the bed too sick to move, feeling the soft breath of her fevered child beside her. She stirred to the sound of banging at the front of the house. Could it be her Ex bashing at the door, causing trouble. She drifted. Again she woke to the same sound and wondered if it could be her other children playing outside and she worried about the crazy neighbour abusing them for being too loud. But the thought wearied her and she slept again.

A third time she woke and the thought gradually dawned on her that the sound was the chopping of wood. Who would be chopping wood? Then she remembered like a hidden joy that she had a new friend, a mentor. He was chopping wood to warm the house for her family. It was the first time in forty years that anyone had done something for her.  Eventually, they made it to the doctor in a blur of organising kids and finding keys, and securing doors. The diagnosis, exhaustion. 

The next four years she pictures like a plant unfolding a succession of once tight clamped koru - free of the dead weight of debt, routines that suit her children and give her space to breathe, her talents flourishing and bringing her income and a new set of friends, out of the old neighbourhood and into schools that work for her children, a first holiday since she had children, friendly faces bringing wood and veggies, the looming prospect of buying a house, from helped to helper - offering her organising skills and becoming a leader in the Spirit Army supporting each other into a new whanau.

Funny, even in the worst of times, she'd always wondered what it's like to live in a village with whanau. 

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