More than 2,000 Manitobans have called 211 for help accessing health, social and government resources since they launched as a phone service this fall.
Originally created through a partnership between United Way Winnipeg and Volunteer Manitoba in 2017, 211 services were previously only available as a web-based platform.
That changed when the phone number was officially released across the province in October.
“(We’re) definitely seeing a great deal of need for the service,” said Jodene Baker, director of impact, innovation and evaluation at United Way Winnipeg.
“When you’re anywhere in Manitoba, you can pick up the phone and dial 211 and you will be connected to a real person, a community navigator, who will listen to your needs and connect you to these services and programs right within your community. ”
211 Manitoba is a free, confidential service that connects the people of the province to thousands of agencies, programs, and services, including resources for mental health, addiction, homelessness, and safety.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to cause stress for many, Baker said the phone line launch in Manitoba could not have come at a more propitious time. She says provinces where phone service took longer reported more than 300,000 COVID-19-related calls between March and October.
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This corresponds to an increase in calls of 30 percent compared to the same period last year.
“We know that because of the pandemic, people are calling 211 for the first time,” says Baker.
“They are in a position they have never been in before, losing their jobs, worrying about their children, their schooling – just truly unprecedented times.”
To access the Manitoba 211 services, visit their website or simply dial 211.
“This is accessible, 24/7, and confidential. It’s about giving people the best possible way to get the help they need,” said Baker.
“Even if you don’t know exactly what you need help with, if you just feel anxious, stressed and have a lot on your plate, please pick up the phone.
“You will be connected to a real person whose job it is to connect you to the support you need in your community.”