When you Don’t Know Where to Turn to, Turn to 211 (Kristin Pass, @KristinPass)

Someone once told me, “You don’t know, what you don’t know”. That simple statement has stuck with me and I think about it a lot in many different contexts. It relates to the story I want to share with you. It’s about a well-kept secret called 211.

In my position, with Brant United Way,  I have the opportunity to learn about a lot of great programs that are offered in our community. We support many of them and others I learn about from connecting with agencies and individuals through my work. One of the things I hear a lot from agencies and residents alike, is they didn’t know a service existed. Don’t get me wrong, there are gaps in services and there are needs that aren’t being addressed. But, in a lot of cases, there are great programs and services running, and people just don’t know about them!

This is where 211 comes in. 211 is an information referral service connecting people to local social services. Their tagline is, “When you don’t know where to turn, turn to 211”.  211 is a helpline (2-1-1- on your phone) and a website (211ontario.ca) that provides information on community, social, non-clinical health and government services. “Sometimes it can be challenging to navigate the systems, and 211 is working to break down barriers. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 100 languages. 211 connects people to the right information and services directly from the 211 website.”

One of my colleagues had a positive experience calling 211. Her aunt’s house had burnt down and the family helped where they could, but they needed more support. She called 211 and they helped her by providing a list of local services to call and sent a follow-up e-mail listing everything. My colleague was so pleased with the help that she wrote back to say thank you and is now sharing this experience with others.

211 is a great resource of information. I encourage you to share this information and think to use it yourself. Let’s not keep 211 a well-kept secret; let’s share this information and connect people in our community with the services they need.  


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