Contributed/United Way Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen
April 23, 2016 - 2:11 PM
KELOWNA – United Ways in BC are preparing to bring access to core online services for bc211 to everyone across the province in the year ahead. bc211 provides a gateway to community, social, non-clinical health and government services.
Citizens 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.
Individuals and families looking for assistance often do not know where to turn. bc211 will connect people to information about:
· 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
Bc211 is a source British Columbians can trust when seeking information and services to deal with life’s challenges. Bc211 connects people to a real person, a specialist who can give support when appropriate, and provide the individual with options to build a road map on how to get help.
There are 11 United Ways operating in BC including United Way Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen and these organizations are excited to come together to build on the success of UWLM and bring bc211 online services to the entire province. This project showcases the collaborative nature of United Ways to benefit local communities.
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 (to date: phone, text and website directory specific to Metro Vancouver, Squamish-Lillooet, Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley Regional Districts). Currently, approximately 60% of Canadians have access to 211 and United Way Centraide Canada remains committed to bringing 211 to all Canadians.
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.
“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.
“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.
“Working in our communities we see the challenges of the people that are in need of information, support and referral. Many of our community partners are assisting these people in their moments of need and where we see bc211 playing a critical role is bringing all of these needs together in one place – for the agencies to know what outs there, for the clients to find few barriers to local information and for our community to truly support everyone that may need information once in their life or as many times as life changes,” says Shelley Gilmore, Executive Director of United Way CSO. “bc211 across BC will unify so many services and offerings for our mobile citizens. In the Interior, we are very proud to be partnering on this information based, prevention and barrier reduction initiative.”
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016