What happens after people leave Gloriavale

Thirty members of the reclusive West Coast community Gloriavale have left in the last year, with tougher leadership believed to be behind the departures.

Liz Gregory is behind the Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust which uses Givealittle to raise money for those who rejoin society, often with no possessions or money.

"This is not an easy decision, these are broken people who have to give up everything they know," she told the AM Show. "This is no easy move."

She became involved several years ago when a Gloriavale family sought help from her church.

"It something that just landed in our laps and we say that's what God had planned for us," she says. "When the first family came to us, it didn't take long before brothers and sisters, cousins and uncles started coming out. They saw the amount of love that family received."

While there are no locked gates at Gloriavale, there are other ways people are prevented from leaving. It's common for women whose husbands have left to be assigned a minder who won't let them take phone calls or be by themselves in case they try to follow.

"Mainly they're held in by their mind," Gregory says. "When you're told you're going to hell, and your children, mothers really take that to heart."

It's hard for people to leave by themselves as Gloriavale is so rural, which is where the Trust steps in to help, sending vehicles to pick them up under cover of darkness. Gregory says once they're out, they're often shell shocked by the modern world.

"They have movie nights in Gloriavale and they think the sensational things that go on in movies, the murders and the killings and the drugs, they think that's everyday life. It doesn't take them long after they're out here before they realise it's not at all like what they've been told. 'I thought you guys had horns coming out of your head'."

Religious historian Peter Lineham says Gloriavale members often leave the community in a state of trauma.

"The outside world is not like Gloriavale, and they need a huge amount of assistance to make the transition practical, financial but also psychological," he told Newshub.

"There's some very serious risks that they will have crises of confidence and want to go back. Support and love and kindness is going to make a huge difference."

He says the Trust has a tough job on its hands and will need to be able to cope with surprises from those it helps on a frequent basis. 

Gregory says the Trust would benefit greatly from Government funding - like there is for refugees from other countries - so it doesn't have to rely on Givealittle.