A new online directory launched across B.C. on Wednesday to help people connect with social services.
BC211.ca, an official partner of Black Press, is a one-stop shop for up-to-date information on finding a job, legal assistance, mental health services, housing options, seniors services, and children and youth programs.
“We’re here to ensure that people don’t have to rely solely on Google to deal with sometimes difficult and often very personal situations,” said bc211 executive director Nathan Wright. “We have prompts that help people narrow down their search, assist them in finding the services that most meet their needs and [are] closest to where they live.”
The site originally launched in Metro Vancouver with the help of United Way’s Lower Mainland chapter. Then, it expanded to Squamish-Lillooet, the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley.
Now, it is provide-wide, thanks to funding from United Ways throughout B.C., with more than 12,000 agencies and programs, and an online chat available every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Nearly 300,000 people visited bc211.ca in its last fiscal year. Most of their queries focused on housing and homelessness, substance abuse and health. The organization also took more than 52,000 phone calls and made 70,000 referrals to community agencies. First responders can also use it to help people find the right resource.
Here are some examples of reasons to use the new service:
• A senior citizen wanting home care support in order to live independently.
• A family facing eviction that doesn’t know where to turn for help.
• A recent immigrant needing language and employment training.
• A young mother worried about how to properly care for her newborn child.
• A laid-off worker wanting to find out about employment insurance.
• A family searching for childcare services in their community or close to work.
• A parent asking where to get food for her family.
• A concerned neighbour trying to help a friend in an abusive relationship.
• A family trying to find services for their son with a newly diagnosed illness.