VANCOUVER, BC — Starting today, bc211.ca is now available to help British Columbians across the province access support in their local community. And it’s only a click away.

bc211.ca is an online information service that is an up-to-date, reliable gateway to community, social, non-clinical health and government services. The service directory database includes over 11,000 current entries that document and describe services and organizations available to help people. The website is optimized for mobile devices and online chat is available seven days a week from 8 am to 11 pm. Some of the information available includes:

  • Employment support
  • Legal assistance
  • Mental health and addiction services
  • Housing options including shelter locations
  • Seniors services
  • Children and youth programs, and much more.

“British Columbians need and deserve reliable information and help they can trust. 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. At bc211.ca, we have prompts that help people narrow down their search, assist them in finding the services that most meet their needs, and closest to where they live,” says Nathan Wright, Executive Director, bc211.

“Sometimes the biggest barrier to getting help is knowing where to look,” says Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “bc211.ca breaks down that barrier. United Way is proud to support the expansion of bc211.ca across B.C.”

“bc211.ca is a powerful tool for frontline service providers,” says Patricia Jelinski, CEO United Way Greater Victoria. “It is our aim as a movement to build the capacity of our valuable funded partners and bc211.ca is a one-stop shop for reliable resources so agencies can better serve their clients and provide solutions in their local neighbourhoods.”

bc211 launched in 2010 in partnership with United Way of the Lower Mainland with phone and online services serving Metro Vancouver. That service expanded to Squamish-Lillooet, Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley. Text capability was added in 2015, and in 2017, web chat was added.

The expansion of bc211.ca was made possible through funding from United Ways across BC including: Lower Mainland; Greater Victoria; Central & Northern Vancouver Island; Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen; East Kootenay; North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap; Northern British Columbia; Powell River & District; Thompson Nicola Cariboo, and Trail and District.

In 2016, bc211.ca had more than 287,000 unique visitors, a 22% increase in online queries over the previous year, the majority of which focused on issues of housing and homelessness, substance abuse, and health (non-clinical).

“211 is a very important Canada-wide project for the United Way Centraide movement because it helps people at vulnerable points in their lives and provides access to the supports required to cope with life’s challenges. We are thrilled to see British Columbia come on board to help us reach our goal to bring 211 to all Canadians. Over 70% of Canadians now have access to the service, either online or by phone and text,” says Bill Morris, National Director, 211 at United Way Centraide Canada.

On a local scale, United Way Greater Victoria is fundraising to help bring the phone and text option of bc211 to Vancouver Island. Once secured, the confidential and multi-lingual phone line will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and in over 160 languages. For anyone interested in making a contribution to this project, please contact Marg Rose, Director of Philanthropy at (250) 220-7365 or marg.rose@uwgv.ca.

United Way Greater Victoria would like to thank the following individual donors and companies for their support in jumpstarting this important initiative: John and Catherine Windsor, Telus Victoria Community Board, Kathy and Keith MacPhail, ALACS Fund through Victoria Foundation, Clint and Carole Forster, Edward Jones Foundation and 8 local financial advisors, Berwick Retirement Communities, Peter and Helen Malcolm, Salt Spring Island Foundation, and Beverly Unger.

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Media contact:

Jennifer Young, United Way of the Lower Mainland
C: 604.309.3937 E: jennifery@uwlm.ca

Nathan Wright, Executive Director, bc211
T: 604.708.3200 E: nathan.wright@bc211.ca

Heather Skydt, United Way Greater Victoria
T: 250.984.2269 E: heather@uwgv.ca

Bill Morris, National Director, 211
United Way Centraide Canada
T: 1-800-267-8221 x. 2368 E: btmorris@unitedway.ca