Two gifts lead the way to bring bc211 phone and text to Vancouver Island

 VICTORIA, BC – On the eve of National Philanthropy Day, United Way Greater Victoria is celebrating a total of $80,000 from donors John and Catherine Windsor and corporate partner TELUS Victoria Community Board as leaders in their new project bc211.

 People across Vancouver Island who are looking for assistance for themselves or their loved ones often do not know where to turn for help. With 211 you will be able to connect to community services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 180 languages. It will be confidential and free.

 211 has an award-winning track record and has been in operation as a help line, website and via text messaging in other provinces across Canada and throughout the United States for many years. bc211 is already available in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Squamish, Sunshine Coast and Lillooet thanks to United Way Lower Mainland. Unfortunately, it’s not available on Vancouver Island.  Not yet. United Way Greater Victoria is working to change that. 

windsor-chequeWith help from major donors John and Catherine Windsor and corporate partner TELUS Victoria Community Board in the amount of $80,000, United Way Greater Victoria is two steps closer to adding the phone and text option for bc211 in conjunction with the local expansion and redesign of service directory (launching April 2017). Five other contributors have added a total $50,000 as well towards the $1.2 million goal.

 Philanthropists John and Catherine Windsor helped jumpstart the campaign with a $40,000 annual financial commitment for three years to help bring bc211 phone and text to Vancouver Island. They have a particular reason for doing so…to help seniors: “Let’s not forget that today’s seniors are yesterday’s teachers, nurses, doctors, soldiers and business leaders. Together with their parents, they built this wonderful country. The least we can do is help look after them in their later years. Providing them with 211 is a great way to help them, their children (or other caregivers), to get and stay connected to the services and information they need,” says John Windsor.

 telusboardThe lead corporate contribution comes from the local TELUS philanthropic arm. “The bc211 service connects Greater Victoria youth and residents with valuable social services close to home. The TELUS Victoria Community Board has answered the call from United Way and recognizes this important need in the community where we live. We are pleased to provide a matching grant of $40,000 to support the phone and texting option for bc211,” says Mel Cooper, Chair, TELUS Victoria Community Board.

Once bc211 is available on Vancouver Island, it will help individuals, seniors and families in need with information about:

Basic human needs such as housing, food banks, shelters, clothing depots

  • Services for children and youth such as childcare
  • Mental health and addiction services
  • Assistance for people with disabilities, seniors and newcomers to Canada
  • Employment support

Donations to bring bc211 phone and text options to Vancouver Island can be made by calling Marg Rose, United Way’s Director of Philanthropy at 250-220-7365 or online at 

BACKGROUND: In the 2015/16 fiscal year, bc211 received 236,000 visits to the online resource directory and saw a 40% increase in queries from the previous year. bc211 also answered 56,000 phone calls, over 350 text messages and made 66,000 referrals to community agencies for help. The top 3 reasons for calling bc211: housing and homelessness, substance use and violence/domestic abuse.

 In April 2016, building on the success of United Way Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, United Way Greater Victoria’s Board of Directors and eight other United Ways operating in BC approved the expenditure to bring bc211 online services to all British Columbians. This project showcases the collaborative nature of United Ways to benefit local communities. The service directory database will be built to accommodate new records from across the province and the website will be optimized for mobile devices and a live web chat feature will be developed (expected launch April 2017).


Heather Skydt
Director, Marketing and Communications
United Way
Work: (250) 984-2269

Patricia Jelinski
CEO, United Way
Work: (250) 220-7364
Cell: (250) 217-8698