Access to help during a crisis in the Estevan area through 211 just got a bit easier. It's now just a text or phone call away, in addition to the internet.
The official announcement was made in a press conference Tuesday morning with representatives of the Estevan, Regina and Saskatoon United Ways on hand.
"It's primary service is helping people navigate through tough times, locating services of support that they may or may not know exist. In times of stress and personal or family crisis, sometimes what we need more than anything else is a hand to find the support we need," stated Saskatoon United Way CEO Shaun Dyer.
"211 has, for years, been accessible in doing that kind of thing on the website. The expansion, the ability to just draw it up on your phone or have a webchat just makes it that much easier, and moves people into that place where there are supports more readily available. No matter what the community, everybody has those needs, and so here in Estevan we're really happy to be able to provide that service."
To access, all one has to do is shoot a text message to 211, or give it a call, and a live person on the other end will answer and walk you through to a solution, whether it's locating a place to stay for the night in an emergency or finding the nearest counselor. Personal interaction is key to the service, according to Dyer.
"The people on the other end of the phone are experts in this type of work. They know what it's like to be in crisis, they know what it's like when someone picks up the phone and reaches out for help, the way that person's feeling. The last thing they want to have is somebody who's being cold, putting them on hold, cutting them off or redirecting them to places that they don't want to go. It's a highly empathetic system," he explained.
In 2017 alone, over 110,000 people were assisted province wide by the program, and no doubt that number will rise as it expands it's reach. The 211 is a national United Way initiative that, so far, covers the entirety of only three provinces, Saskatchewan being one of them.
"I think it's a great initiative. It's something that Estevan could really use. We see a lot of people who are struggling in the community through the United Way, they reach out and it's really nice to be able to tell them to call or text, or go on this website and they'll give you the name of every service you could ever possibly want. It's really helpful, even for our member agencies to be able to get their name out there," said Rebecca Foord, the Vice President of the United Way Estevan.
She added that there may be some people who may find it difficult to ask for help. However, 211 is completely anonymous, no personal information or data is taken, and so one can access the assistance they need confidentially, no matter the situation.