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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

IN Community: A Welcoming Space For LGBTQ2+ Youth

The Friends of Ruby emergency housing centre is on track to open later this year…

By Jumol Royes

42 per cent of the LGBTQ2+ community reported significant impacts on their mental health in the current situation compared to 30 per cent of non-LGBTQ2+ people, according to results from a recent national survey conducted by Egale and Innovative Research Group on the impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ2+ community.

Friends of Ruby, a non-profit organization that strives to meet the needs of vulnerable LGBTQ2+ youth in the GTA, is seeing this unfold up close and personal: social isolation, an increase in anxiety and lack of privacy are just some of the concerns young people have expressed to staff during the pandemic.

“We’ve quickly adapted our crisis and mental health services to offer professional counselling and practical support through phone, web and chat,” says Leticia Ferreira, Ph.D., director of strategic initiatives. “We’ve started multiple online activities to fight social isolation including art therapy, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and/or people of colour) drop-in and a group on Mindfulness Skills for Coping with Stress.”

Since its founding in 2014, Friends of Ruby has supported almost 1,000 youth at its youth centre, preventing 470 mental health crises and visits to hospital emergency rooms and saving close to $300,000 in healthcare costs.

The organization is also on track to open its first emergency and transitional home for LGBTQ2+ youth in downtown Toronto.

“With proper safety precautions in place, construction on our desperately needed emergency housing centre on Dundas Street East continues towards completion later this year,” says Ferreira.

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, Friends of Ruby is also preparing to reopen some of its in-person services like meals, groceries and access to computers and phones. These essential services are scheduled to restart as of May 20.

To find out more about the services provided by Friends of Ruby, email info@friendsofruby.caor call 416-359-0237.

You can also show your support by donating online at http://friendsofruby.ca/.

JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based storyteller and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation and a love of all things Real Housewives. Follow him on Twitter @Jumol and on Instagram @jumolroyes.

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