With a stable roof over her head, the Christchurch mum spent two years volunteering for her local community patrol, which supports Police to keep the area safe. Earlier this year, she also began volunteering at a local school assisting with the Garden to Table programme, which teaches pupils how to plant, harvest and cook kai.

Now those voluntary stints have led to permanent part time employment with the school, where she is continuing to help run the Garden to Table programme and has also set up a new health and wellness programme. She’s also about to begin weekend shifts at a security company, thanks in part to her community patrol work.

“My advice to anyone without a job is to do some voluntary work,” Ruby says. “If they see you’re willing to give your time, and you’re good at it, it will open doors. I’m all about encouraging others to jump on the waka of change.”

After leaving school and home at just 15, Ruby decided to begin studying again in her 40s and is now a qualified personal trainer. When she graduated from the New Zealand Institute of Sport, she set up an online fitness programme but that’s currently on hold while she explores other work.

“I need to rethink what I can offer in that space as I’d like to work with less privileged people. I’ve always believed that if you can change one life, then you’re winning,” Ruby says.

She says living in a stable home with an encouraging housing support manager by her side has given her the boost she needs to fulfil her dreams.

“I don’t know if I’d have made all these changes if I didn’t have this house and the tenancy manager I do. I’ve been able to create a life for my children that I could only have dreamed of,” she says. 

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Page updated: 4 July 2024