Why people called 211 in 2013 - Caller Stories*
Senior discovers he is eligible for financial help
A senior called to find homemaking services. He had tried a home help service but could not afford the $6 per hour as his pension was less than $1,000 a month. The 211 Specialist asked if he was receiving the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). He was not sure what he was receiving. 211 suggested he apply for the GIS and the caller admitted he couldn’t fill in forms as he could not read. 211 referred him to Etobicoke Services for Seniors and LAMP for help with the forms. 211 followed up a few days later with caller. The agency had prepared the form for the GIS with him. 211 also spoke with Storefront Humber, a home care provider, who agreed to work out something with the caller until he received his GIS funds for homemaking help.
Mom finds warming centres during ice storm
During the Winter Ice Storm a single mother with two children called 211. She had no luck calling 311 or Hydro to find out when hydro would be restored and she did not know what to do. 211 explained that there was no information available on when power would return at that point. It could take a couple of days. Her parents were in a similar situation so she could not stay with family. 211 explained about the warming centres that had opened and was encouraged to take her children there. 211 encouraged her to pack warm clothing for herself and the children, and to take some diapers and toys.
211 helps new business immigrant become orientated
A new business immigrant is staying at a hotel and is referred to 211 by hotel staff. She is not confident with her English skills yet but hotel knows 211 can help in multiple languages, including Mandarin. She had a lot of questions about helping her husband and daughter to settle here and starting her business in Toronto. She needed to know how to open a bank account, apply for a driver’s license, renting a house, buying a house and how to register a business, among many other questions.
211 told her to start with a bank near by, recommended she contact a Chinese association like the Chinese Business Chamber of Canada. 211 explained about the G1 test and the website with testing information and a website that could explain it in Chinese. We referred her to several agencies to get help with the whole range of settlement services in Mandarin. We told her of the website with information on registering a business. We encouraged her to call 211 any time.
211 helps a senior who has fallen during the night
A senior in Niagara region called 211 at 2:30 a.m. in great distress. She wasn’t sure who to call so she had called 211 because the Meals on Wheels person had left a brochure earlier that day. She explained that she was over 80, lived alone and had fallen. She wasn’t hurt but was too weak to lift herself and had used all her energy to get to the phone. Luckily, the senior had a great sense of humour. 211 brainstormed with her on who they could call at that hour and the woman remembered her neighbour had a set of keys but she couldn’t reach her phone book to get her number. 211 did a search for the neighbour who picked up on the second try and went to help her neighbour. The caller was very relieved the ordeal was over and grateful for the help.
Senior frustrated with government voicemail automation calls 211 for help
An elderly woman called regarding getting help contacting the Attorney General office. Her husband had been called for jury duty but he had been in a nursing home for several years and could not attend. The recording message she heard at the Attorney General number had confused her. She was very frustrated. The caller gave 211 permission to call the Attorney General on her behalf. We promised her we would make a warm transfer to a real person and not another voicemail. 211 explained the situation and the caller was transferred to the correct person who promised to fix the records to take her husband off the list.
Youth connects to LGBT programs near him
A youth was looking for support in the coming out process. He had a few friends at school who were supportive. After asking the caller some questions, 211 told the caller about the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) if his parents required support. 211 also described Prideline Durham and the LGBT Youthline which serves all Ontario. He was also interested in the history of the Church and Wellesley area so 211 referred him to the Lesbian and Gay Archives and the 519 Church Street Community Centre for more information.
Unemployed man learns of Ontario Works help to find employment
A caller was looking for work but he was running out of funds and was not eligible for Employment Insurance. He was looking for help with food and clothing, as well as finding employment. 211 referred him to his local Ontario Works office and told him how to apply. 211 also referred him to his local food banks and a clothing program that specialized in career clothing. The caller was interested in training courses and help looking for work. 211 explained the employment help available through Ontario Works and referred him to his closest Employment Centre and the Employment Ontario hotline for information on possible training and employment programs.
Disabled seniors find help for broken furnace
A man and his wife are both living on the Ontario Disability Support Program and their furnace has broken down. He can afford the monthly payments but doesn’t have the security deposit needed. The couple are sick and using a small propane heater to stay warm. 211 investigated the Ontario Renovates program in the couple’s community. This program offers loans or grants to low to moderate income families to repair their home to bring to acceptable standards while improving the energy-efficiency of the unit, or to increase accessibility of their unit through modifications and adaptation or create a new affordable rental unit in an existing single family home. 211 also spoke with the Salvation Army who couldn’t help with the security deposit but could put the couple in a hotel through the Emergency Housing Program until the issue with their furnace was resolved.
Stressed senior finds much needed support for his adult son with developmental disabilities
A senior called 211 looking for services for his adult son with severe developmental disabilities. His wife had passed away the year before and she had managed most of the service coordination for their son. His son was sometimes aggressive and refused to leave the house without his dad, which made accessing services difficult. The senior was exhausted and overwhelmed.
211 asked many probing questions to better understand the caller’s concerns and situation to make the best referrals possible. 211 helped identify not only programs geared for adults with developmental disabilities in his area but respite services and financial assistance for the caller as he was having trouble making ends meet. 211 offered to advocate on the caller’s behalf to ensure he knew he was not alone and to make sure he reached the right help at the agencies.
Woman finds professional clothes for new job
A women who had been on Ontario Works social assistance was successful in finding a job and needed professional clothes to wear to work. 211 referred her to the Women’s Enterprise Skills Training (WEST) Ready for Work program, which provides free and gently used clothing for people going to job interviews and starting new jobs. With permission, 211 followed up with the caller a week later and learned WEST has provided two suits. The caller was grateful to both 211 and WEST for their help.
Photo provided courtest of Women's Enterprise Skills Training (WEST) of Windsor Inc.
Disabled senior needs moving help
An elderly gentleman called to find help moving to a new apartment. He lived on fixed income and didn’t have enough to hire movers. He was also in a wheelchair, over 70 years of age and had no family or church who could help and his friends were of the same age. The 211 Specialist knew that very few agencies are able to help with moving. 211 called four agencies and discovered none of these could help. 211 called the Community Care Access Centre and the CCAC worker they agreed to supervise the moving process so no one would take advantage of the senior. 211 then called the client back and brainstormed with him possible help with packing, lifting and moving. He revealed he was Muslim. 211 then called a Muslim centre and explained the situation. The agency was very helpful and agreed to organize volunteers and spoke with the caller’s superintendent to coordinate the arrangements together.
Bed bound senior needs food
A senior called for assistance with food. He had had surgery the week before and was unable to make it to the food bank. He was on medication for a heart condition and can barely move and has no support at home. He had no means to pay for meals and hadn’t eaten for two days. The 211 Specialist advocated on the caller’s behalf with their permission. After several calls, 211 found a community agency that would sponsor Meals on Wheels for him for the rest of the week and offered to provide additional support while he was home bound.
Lonely senior finds great programs in her community
A senior woman is looking for activities to keep her busy. Her husband died a few years ago, the children live in other parts of the country and she is often lonely and bored. The 211 Specialist looked up social groups for seniors in the Eastern part of Ottawa and referred the senior to the Gloucester Senior Adults Centre and the City of Ottawa Recreation Centres as starting points.
*Identifying details in stories have been changed to protect caller confidentiality.