Despite the large number of social services available in Calgary, people who need help often don’t know how to find it. The system of supports is complex and hard to navigate. That’s where 211 comes in. Calgarians who need help can simply dial 211 to speak with an Information & Referral Specialist who can help them find the right service for their need. 211 is operated by Distress Centre Calgary.
The foundation of our 211 service is the comprehensive online database of community resources that has been maintained by the Information Centre with the City of Calgary since 1967. The Information Centre played an integral role in bringing 211 to Calgary in 2005. Today, we are pleased to announce that Distress Centre is taking over the maintenance of the online database, from the City of Calgary, through the development of our new Community Resource Database program.
By having the same agency that operates 211 manage the online database, we will build the 211 program’s community resource knowledge and capacity, enhancing our agency’s in-depth knowledge of the resources available in Calgary and area. 211 has played a critical role during emergencies and in times of disaster, such as the 2016 Wood Buffalo Wildfires and the 2013 Alberta floods. Taking over this database improves Distress Centre’s ability to respond to our community’s needs during these times of emergency.
“We’re grateful to the Information Centre for their decades of work to ensure our community members have had access to up-to-date, comprehensive information on the resources and services in our city,” said Jerilyn Dressler, Executive Director at Distress Centre. “We’re excited to take over this role so that we can best serve Calgarians who need to access services.”
Meet our new Community Resource Database team (from left to right, at the top of the story): Chloe McBean, 211 Program Manager, Alexis Oakes, Community Resource Specialist, Sangeeta Sharma, Community Resource Department Team Lead, and Ricky Poon and Natasha Dharshi, Community Resource Specialists.
211 is a free 24/7 information and referral line that can help callers find non-emergency help, such as mental health support, financial services, resources for seniors and more. For people who don’t like using the phone, online chat support is available from 12-8pm daily. 211 Calgary and Area is a joint initiative of Distress Centre, The City of Calgary (Family & Community Support Services), and United Way of Calgary and Area.