Street chaplains a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold


Ami and Garrett Keals.
Ami and Garrett Keals.

Ami and Garret Keals are street chaplains who have walked Perth’s nightclub strips to lend a hand, a bottle of water or even a shoulder to cry on.

“There is a lot of counselling involved,” Mrs Keals said.

“People ask you for directions a lot, too. Sometimes we’ll get someone come up to us and say ‘hey thanks for looking after my brother the other week,’ so it’s really nice when people recognise and thank us. ”

Between 11pm and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, volunteers work with police, walking the streets and offering water, escorting people to taxis and giving first aid.

After being rostered on at the same time three years ago, the pair shared a cup of coffee, started dating, got engaged a year later and are now expecting twins.

Mrs Keals said it could be a rewarding and challenging role.

“We got called to one site where an 18-year-old girl was left alone and unconscious in the street so we did first aid and got an ambulance. It broke my heart seeing that young girl but it makes me feel good to be out there and making a difference.

“I was always the one out of my friends getting people home if they’d had too much to drink.”

Mr Keals said people occasionally reacted negatively to street chaplains.

“Sometimes people think we’re going to preach to them because they see the word ‘chaplain’ and think we will set fire and brimstone on them or something,” he said. “That’s not what we’re there for.”