Rita's Story | The Salvation Army

Rita's Story

Rita shares how "Having the support of The Salvation Army has been life changing."



When Rita checked into the Salvation Army’s Bridge programme in 2019, she was at rock bottom. Three and a half years later and her life has been completely transformed.


‘Having the support of The Salvation Army has been life changing,’ she says. ‘When I left rehab The Salvation Army fed me, clothed me and housed me during what was a really vulnerable time in my life.’

Real life advocacy

While still in rehab, Rita explains that The Salvation Army began working with her to prepare for the transition back into real life. 'I had lost everything—surrendered everything to get clean, and now I was being sent back out into the world with only the clothes on my back. That’s when The Salvation Army stepped in. They just wrapped around me and my kids and supported me. They showed me love.’ The Salvation Army began advocating for Rita with both Work and Income and also Oranga Tamariki.‘When you are an addict no one wants to help you because they don’t see the part of you that is really trying. The Salvation Army helped verify that I was making good progress and showing that I wanted to get better and do better for my children.’

Home sweet home

When Rita left rehab, she expected to be back at women’s refuge. ‘I couldn’t see how I could possibly get a house because I had no references. The Salvation Army became my reference and I managed to get a private home! The Family Store provided furniture, beds, blankets and clothes. I was just so incredibly grateful for that help,’ says Rita. But with the pandemic and cost of living crisis bearing down, Rita discovered that while she could pay the rent, there was little left over for food and bills. ‘I had no money to put food in the cupboard. The Salvation Army helped with food parcels and on top of that they taught me how to manage a budget. Later I was offered a place as a volunteer in the foodbank which really helped cement that learning in me,’ explains Rita who is now debt free for the first time in her adult life.

Worthy of love

For Rita it wasn’t just the practical assistance that made a difference. ‘It was more than just food—it was people who encouraged me and loved me and spoke into my life as a single mother, encouraging me to keep moving forward. I didn’t feel like I was worthy as a mother and that I had let my family down. But The Salvation Army kept loving me through kai and furniture and blankets and clothes and toys for the kids, until I was strong enough to stand on my own two feet.’ Rita has no doubt that it was through the support of The Salvation Army that she’s been given a second chance at life. ‘More than anything I wanted to be loved so it was incredible having these people from The Salvation Army that I did not even know to begin with who just kept loving me and caring for me and my kids and nurturing me. They kept on believing in me until I believed in myself.’


You can help others like Rita by giving to this year’s Red Shield Appeal…. 


For Rita’s protection - we have not used her real name, and used actors to portray her and her child.