February 11th is 211 Day across Canada.If you’re not familiar with 211, don’t worry — you’re not alone.211 is simply an easy phone number that anyone can dial for free, confidential, help.“211 is a telephone service kind of like 811 or 911,” said Marianne Dahl, spokesperson for United Way Southern Interior B.C.
But instead of police, fire or ambulance, 211 will connect callers to a service navigator regarding “counselling services, mental health, shelters, food and food banks, so social services community resources, that kind of thing,” said Dahl.The United Way has partnered here in B.C. with 211, helping to fund the service.According to advocates, one of the best parts about dialling 211 is that you’ll speak to a live voice and not just a recording.“Our navigators answer the phone 24-7, every day of the year and can provide service in over 150 languages,” said BC211 CEO Irene Chanin.
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But despite fielding 58,000 phone calls last year, Chanin maintains that 211’s B.C. profile still needs a little help of its own.
“One day, we would like to be as well known as 911 or 811 because this is a service that provides folks help when they are facing life’s challenges,” Chanin said.
And so the telephone service is calling on people to take notice on Feb. 11th every year as national 211 Day.
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Chanin says it’s a day to remind people to use the number.
“We just want to help,” said Chanin. “We really just see ourselves as the front door to help.”