News : B.C.’s United Ways Pony Up to Expand 211 Service Province-wide
Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 15, 2017 -- The call centre linking thousands to community services also just launched online chat feature last week.
"We’re in full gear," quipped Nathan Wright, bc211’s executive director. "We’re ready to go."
The community services call centre service he oversees — founded by the United Way of the Lower Mainland (UWLM) in 2010 — has connected hundreds of thousands of British Columbians with community and non-profit agencies across the region since its opening.
Now, other United Way agencies across B.C. have ponied up to expand its online service across the province, and this fall Victoria will see its phone services arrive for the first time, followed next year by others.
Last week, the service also added a new feature: live web chat with call centre staff, offering the same service referrals to everything from food banks and shelters to arts and recreation and legal agencies.
They’ve recently hit 1,000 phone calls every week, Wright boasted, and last year its website got 287,000 unique visitors, a 22 per cent increase.
"We’ve always had a vision of bc211 being a province-wide program," explained UWLM president Michael McKnight in a phone interview. "We provide so many grants to support social services, but those only work and are effective if people know they exist, and have that information in their time of need or crisis.
"This is a perfect way for people to find those services when they need them."
McKnight said that the United Way increased its annual funding to bc211 by roughly $1 million to make the shift across B.C.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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