211 ex­pan­sion to ben­e­fit south­west Saskatchew­an

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current -

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

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

United Way of Saska­toon and Area CEO Shaun Dyer speaks at the launch of the 211 ser­vice ex­pan­sion in Swift Cur­rent, June 2018.

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