Reg Lambert has always had a natural curiosity about people, but there is one question – more than any other – that has plagued him for years.
Why do people become homeless?
The 93-year-old has been spending his evenings driving around Mandurah and other areas talking to the homeless and offering them a warm blanket, a cup of coffee and friendship since 1983.
He can tell you all about academic studies that describe the family backgrounds and drug use of homeless people, but he still think they miss the point.
There are those with the best backgrounds, with stable relationships, who still find themselves sleeping under the the Serpentine River's Pinjarra Road bridge, the place where Mr Lambert does much of his work.
This work is carrying on her memory. I just want to be with her and I hope I will sometime when I knock on the door up there and say, 'any vacancies?'Reg Lambert on his late wife Bet.
They become what Mr Lambert calls “the unfortunates”.
Mr Lambert has been speaking to academics with the hope of conducting a new kind of study into homelessness.
But in the meantime, he has been working with the non-profit he founded, called PeelConnect, to train up people to continue his night work.
Because he has a new mission.
At the end of February, Mr Lambert will be leaving Mandurah for good and moving to a property near Mullewa to work in an addiction rehabilitation centre.
Called Wandalgu, the facility is isolation and is exactly what those struggling with addiction need.
“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I presume I’ll be up there to mentor people,” he said.
“I’ve got no medical or mental health skills, but I’ve got engineering skills. Except over a period of years, we’ve had in our home people who’ve needed isolating.”
When asked if he should consider retirement instead of a massive new challenge, Mr Lambert, who turns 94 in August, said: “Retirement? What’s that?”
He said his determination to keep offering help to those who needed it was motivated by his Christian faith and his late wife, Bet, who was not “churchy” but who encouraged his work.
“Well, I’ve got a spiritual background, which was given to me and then I ended up owning it for myself,” he said.
“I was encouraged and supported by Bet. This work is carrying on her memory. I just want to be with her and I hope I will sometime when I knock on the door up there and say, ‘any vacancies?’”
But Mr Lambert said there was still much work for him to do. And he will keep doing it while there’s a need.