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United Way of the Lower Mainland believes it’s important to think about health and well-being as more than something we look for at a doctor’s office, but as something that starts in our families and our communities. United Way believes that the places where we live, work, learn and play affect our health and well-being, and we are committed to building stronger communities so that vulnerable populations have a better chance to do well and to be well. We do this by supporting key poverty reduction and housing initiatives, information and referral services and volunteer centres. As a key example, United Way of the Lower Mainland and Information Services Vancouver have created a partnership to establish BC’s first 211 service.


bc211 is an easy-to-remember, three-digit telephone number (211) 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.

While there are excellent community programs available, many people have a tough time 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 – $750,578 will be invested in 2015/16 – bc211 provides 211 services for communities in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts, with further expansion planned for the future. Visit the bc211 website.

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