Thousands of programs and services will be just a click away as United Ways are collaborating to bring bc211 online services to the entire province. bc211 coverage is currently limited to the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Squamish-Lillooet and the Sunshine Coast. Over the next year, bc211 will expand its online service across the province. The expansion of the navigation service will be accomplished by partnering with United Ways in Greater Victoria, Central & Northern Vancouver Island, Thompson Nicola Cariboo, North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap, Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen, East Kootenay, Powell River & District, Northern British Columbia, and Trail and District. Citizens across the province will be able to navigate the complex network of human services quickly and easily, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week through the bc211 website which will also be optimized for mobile devices and feature live web chat capabilities. bc211 is a source British Columbians can trust when seeking information and services to deal with life’s challenges. The free service provides a gateway to community, social, non-clinical health and government services connecting people to information about for example: • Basic human needs such as housing, food banks, shelters, clothing depots • Services for children, youth and families such as childcare • Mental health and addiction services • Assistance for people with disabilities, seniors and newcomers to Canada • Employment support In 2010, United Way Lower Mainland (UWLM) launched the bc211 website, phone and text capabilities in the Lower Mainland. Since that time they have expanded the services to include Squamish-Lillooet, Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley Regional Districts. In the 2015/16 fiscal year, bc211 received 236,000 visits to the online resource directory and saw a 40% increase in queries from the previous year. Bc211 also answered 56,000 phone calls, over 350 text messages and made 66,000 referrals to community agencies for help. The top 3 reasons for calling bc211: housing and homelessness, substance use and violence/domestic abuse. “Collectively the United Ways of British Columbia recognize how access to information can help change lives. It is this vision and willingness to support communities across this province that has led to the provincial expansion of the Red Book Online, our resource database. bc211 is looking very forward to working in partnership with the United Ways to connect individuals and families to resources and community services throughout British Columbia,” says Sandy Biggerstaff, Manager of Operations, bc211. In order to expand the current bc211 website, a service directory database will be built to accommodate new records from across the province and the website will be optimized for mobile devices and a live web chat feature will be developed. Preparation for this work is underway and further information on the development timeline will be available in the coming months. The intent is to launch this online service in the first quarter of 2017. “Sometimes the biggest barrier to getting help is knowing where to get it,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “That’s why we helped develop bc211 and continue to be a major funder of the free 24/7 help line. Every hour of every day, people need help finding services – from finding a homeless shelter, to securing daycare for a child, to home care support for an aging parent. bc211 is a great resource to let people know they aren’t alone.” 211 across Canada United Way Centraide Canada received approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to use 211 for community, social, government and non-clinical health information in 2001. Since that time United Ways across the country have responded and the network includes: Alberta 211, New Brunswick 211 (online only), Nova Scotia 211, Nunavut 211, Quebec 211, Ontario 211, SK 211 (online only) and bc211. Currently, approximately 60% of Canadians have access to 211 and United Way Centraide Canada remains committed to bringing 211 to all Canadians. “211 is a very important project to United Way Centraide Canada and it is an exceptional tool to support vulnerable people across the country. We are thrilled to see British Columbia come on board to help us reach our goal to bring 211 to all Canadians,” says Bill Morris, National Director, 211 at United Way Centraide Canada.