Basedul was only 17 when his parents helped him flee an unhealthy situation in Bangladesh. He came alone to Canada in the hopes of finding a better future. They made plans to support him as best they could, but then the world went into lockdown and Basedul’s support systems fell apart. Alone, afraid and isolated he ended up in the shelter system.
Fortunately, LOFT was there to help him with the mental health pressures of leaving his parents behind. “I moved to Beverley Lodge,” he says. “They have an amazing staff that has become like a family to me. I have a chill and bold father figure, Lloyd, and a caring mother figure, Monique. They’re always checking in on me and looking out for me.”
Beverley Lodge is just one of several LOFT programs that serve at-risk youth who don’t have a home, or who can’t live at home due to complex mental health issues or addictions. LOFT provides a supportive, structured environment where young people can learn self-respect and the skills they need to be independent members of society.
“We ensure that our clients’ educations are up-to-date and that they don’t fall behind,” explains Monique, a child and youth worker. “People have misconceptions that our youth will never achieve anything, but our clients are very intelligent.”
Encouraging and enabling education is a key LOFT role, but the pandemic has caused setbacks. Virtual learning is only possible with a secure home and encouragement — not to mention technology. With the right support, young people like Basedul are moving forward.
“My goal in life is to be a Chartered Professional Accountant,” he says. “COVID-19 has been hard, but constant support from everyone at LOFT has helped a lot.”