Building Stronger Communities with bc211
United Way of the Lower Mainland understands that social change cannot be achieved without strengthening the fabric of your community. Our Building Stronger Communities foundational strategy removes barriers for vulnerable populations by providing core funding for volunteer centres, crisis lines, information and referral services, including bc211.
What is bc211?
bc211 is an easy-to-remember, three-digit telephone number that provides free, confidential, multilingual information and referral to a full range of community, social, and government services. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Information and Referral Specialists link callers to the services and support they need. Phase II of the project will see the development of a 211 internet portal which will feature a searchable database for all social, community and government resources in the service area.
While there are excellent community programs available, many citizens have difficulty finding the services they need. Service providers also face challenges trying to locate appropriate community services for their clients.
bc211 and United Way are very pleased to announce that Lower Mainland residents are now able to access 211 services that:
- Provide an easy, visible, and non-judgmental entry point for people looking for help, 24/7, 365 days of the year.
- Increase efficiency by helping callers to define their needs and by pointing them to the most appropriate places to find help.
- Relieve some of the burden on service providers by reducing the number of calls from people who are seeking services they do not provide.
- Help service providers connect their clients to additional services available from other organizations.
- Provide new information about needs and gaps in services that can help social planners, policy-makers, and funders make better decisions.
Thanks to ongoing funding from United Way of the Lower Mainland, bc211 provides 211 services for communities in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts.
Who will use 211?
211 is for everyone and anyone who is seeking information about services in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts, such as:
- A senior citizen wanting home care support in order to live independently
- A teenager looking for job-seeking skills
- A young mother wanting advice on how to care for her newborn
- A homeless person seeking a shelter bed and a hot meal
- A recent immigrant needing language and employment training
- A family searching for child-care services in their community or close to work
- A father trying to find services for his son with a newly diagnosed illness
- A laid-off worker wanting to find out about employment insurance
- A person affected by disabilities looking for services available in their community
- A service provider wanting to find complementary programs for her clients
Did you know?
- The first 211 service in B.C. was launched in the Lower Mainland in 2010 thanks to a partnership between United Way of the Lower Mainland and Information Services Vancouver.
- An easy-to-remember telephone number, 211 links people to a full range of non-emergency health and social services offered by community agencies and government.
- The regional 211 service is staffed by information and referral specialists who are trained to assist people to pinpoint their needs and to provide them with up to date information on the services that person requires.
- Those services might be in their local community or anywhere else in the province. The 211 service will be free, confidential, multilingual and also accessible online.
- Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, information and referral staff answer 211 calls, assess the needs of each caller and link them to the best available information and services.
- A user-friendly online database will also be available allowing users to find their own way to community, social, health and government human programs and services.
- The 211 service will generate data that can be used for social services planning and evaluation, emergency planning, community partnerships and social policy – all areas of interest to United Way of the Lower Mainland.
- 211 services are available in more than half of the states in America and in other parts of Canada, such as Toronto and Calgary.
- United Way will commit $750,000 in 2010-2011 to support this service.
- Subject to sustainable funding, a 211 service could eventually be rolled out across the province.