United Way of Central Alberta in partnership with the City of Red Deer launched the 211 phone service for Red Deerians last week.
211 phone support is a complement to the existing www.ab.211.ca web service, which when combined offer residents of the City opportunities to access a database of community support programs to assist them in times of trouble.
“This three-year funding commitment for the 211 telephone service will provide a citizen friendly single point of entry for our public to access what are most certainly essential social services,” stated Mayor Tara Veer during the official launch of 211 last week where she proceeded to place the first 211 call from the City.
“This ensures an actual person is available to help someone navigate through complexities in what could be a time of emergency or crisis – 211 brings simplicity to what can otherwise be a complex world of social, community, government and health services to navigate through.”
During Veer’s inaugural call to the 211 program, within seconds she was on the line with a highly trained crisis intervention agent, in which the pair demonstrated how the agent would handle a call from a caller who was experiencing a financial crisis and was unable to pay rent and bills.
The agent suggested the caller visit the Alberta Works office and provided Veer with not only the phone number but also the address and instructions on how to get to the office.
The agents are highly trained to assist callers beyond basic needs and he proceeded to suggest that had it not have been a mock scenario, he also would have given the caller the information for the local Food Bank as well as assist in any other possible way he could have.
“We look forward to seeing 211 help Red Deerians find critical health and social services information,” added Veer.
United Way CEO Robert Mitchell stated the live service offers many benefits to residents and can help with a variety of scenarios adding that he is thrilled the City has embraced the vision and importance of the complete 211 phone service.
“Hopefully the City’s example will inspire other Central Alberta municipalities to follow suit in order to ensure that all Central Albertans have equal access to 211 services,” stated Mitchell, with Veer adding the City hopes to work with neighbouring communities to allow all of Central Alberta access to the phone service.
For more information on 211, visit www.ab.211.ca or by simply dialing 211.