211 expansion to benefit southwest Saskatchewan
The 211 service can be a useful asset to strengthen the human services sector in the province through the collection of data about gaps in services.
“If we have repeated calls for a particular service where there isn’t any, that’s going to be the value of the information,” Edwards-Bentz said. “So we can begin to think about how should we invest differently if this is a high-need service and you have to travel an hour, two hours to get it. Maybe we need to rethink the positioning or where we have services across the province. I think that’s the real value that we are seeing with 211.”
The 211 service can also be used by first responders, social workers, police and other service providers to find accurate information for people they are assisting.
The expansion of the 211 service is a result of a financial donation of $150,000 from CanPacific Potash and a contribution of $600,000 over the next three years from the Community Initiatives Fund.
“United Way has believed in this project for many years and has worked this into our budget funding for the long term,” Dyer said. “What we have with our expansion partners is that signal from the broader community, the business community, the granting community to say actually we share your vision for this long term. So we think that the three-year window is going to be plenty of time to develop and to demonstrate that this is a robust, important, sustainable service. We’re really hopeful and optimistic that we will see this as a core part of our business going forward.”
Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz thinks the expansion of the 211 service will be a benefit for southwest Saskatchewan, where residents in rural areas might have challenges to access certain resources. The 211 service can help them to bridge that gap to find out what services are available in their area and the nearest location of resources. It will also assist various organizations to gain a better understanding of the need for services in the area.
“So 211 just helps to meet that gap and where we always have that data at our fingertips and have a true perspective of what is needed in the area,” she said.
She feels the human service sector will play an important role to make people aware of the 211 service when they are meeting with their clients and suggesting this resource. She considers it necessary to get municipalities, both urban and rural, involved to also make it available in their communities.
“211 Saskatchewan has given us as a community and a province the opportunity to find out first hand from those requesting the services what their greatest needs are, not just provincially, but the opportunity to gain insight based on regions and specific communities,” she said. “So 211 means helping to meet the needs of our rural communities and connecting them to their closest resources.”
The 211 Saskatchewan service is available 24 hours a day for seven days a week throughout the year in over 100 languages. Call or text 2-1-1 or visit sk.211.ca
United Way of Saskatoon and Area CEO Shaun Dyer speaks at the launch of the 211 service expansion in Swift Current, June 2018.