As Chaplain at BaptistCare HopeStreet in Newcastle’s Windale and Wallsend, Joy plays a powerful role in creating space for people and communities who are dealing with some difficult life circumstances.

This includes poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues.

While no two days - nor two stories - are the same, Joy leads with heart. As she encounters the real lives and broken dreams of the communities HopeStreet works in, it’s this approach that makes a tangible difference.

“My heart would be that people would find a safe place to be themselves and talk about their story; that if they’re spending time with me, they would feel valued, understood, heard and that they would feel the presence of God,” said Joy.

“It’s a total honour to me to hear something of their story, or have them share their life story with me. And I think the power of story, and sharing it is so powerful. How healing it can be to have someone sit and listen!”

Joy often has people say to her ‘I’m telling you stuff, I haven’t told anyone else. I feel like you have heard me.’

“A gentleman said to me only this morning, ‘When I spend time sitting, talking with you, Joy, I feel valued. Thank you.’ What a privilege that is to be able to provide people that space and refuge!”

And in hearing those stories, it’s the tenacity and strength of the people telling them that catches Joy’s breath every time. “I’m blown away by the stories of resilience that I hear and I witness and observe everyday.”

“Of course, the solution always comes from the person, not us. We lend a hand where we can. I love the stories where the solution or the next stage of their journey ends up looking more different than I could have imagined. But that person is on their way and happy, and their lives are being transformed.”

“By meeting people where they are at in a non-judgmental way and honouring their story, it is really powerful.”

At Windale clients are met by a dynamic team of staff, including Joy, and volunteers who are each playing their own role to help empower people in their time of need.

The centre’s ever-popular affordable food choices are in high demand, including regular breakfasts and lunches, a low cost grocery store selling everything from fresh bread, cereals, fruits, vegetables and household items, and food vouchers for use in the store to ensure people have access to basic items to make a meal.

“It’s important immediate physical needs are met - our practical services such as our grocery shop and no interest loans do this. I feel our chaplains hold space for that person – to hear and understand - where our counsellors and caseworkers are all about helping them move forward when they are ready,” said Joy.

“Many people need to get to that place. If they don’t get the moment, or the part of the journey, where they feel really heard - it’s difficult to move forward. Once there - a lot of time - you see people are in the emotional and spiritual headspace to step forward and start making the choices they need to make, whatever they may be.”

And as it is for the human experience, sometimes we don’t make the right decisions the first time round. Joy and her team acknowledge that it’s about engaging with people in a way that if a person is back at square one in six or twelve months time, they know there’s still a non-judgmental and safe place they can return to.

“With trauma and DV and all the things people experience, and the complex needs people have, it’s about going back through the healing process as many times as one needs to. It’s not about having an expectation that everyone will get ‘fixed’.”

Our seven HopeStreet Chaplains deliver more than 170 hours of support each week to our clients. You can support the work of HopeStreet's Chaplains by donating today