How 211 helps: real caller stories

When people are isolated or in crisis, finding the right help can seem impossible. There is so much information available – thousands of programs, services, and government supports – but wading through it all can be overwhelming.

211 Community Navigators are available to listen and to help people find the connections that are so important for their mental health and wellbeing

A caregiver was looking for seniors services providing help in Vietnamese

A worker at a social service agency called 211. She was looking for services in Vietnamese language for her client, who was a caregiver for a frail senior. The client was understandably overwhelmed with the many responsibilities of caregiving. She felt that the client needed some assistance, so they could cope better with their stress.

After asking some questions, the 211 Community Navigator found several appropriate non-profit counselling programs in Vietnamese that were close to where the caregiver lived. She described the eligibility, services and how to apply for each one.

The Community Navigator encouraged the caller to dial 2-1-1 again anytime she needed more referrals. She also encouraged the worker to give the 211 number to her client. If the client wished to speak in Vietnamese, 211 has access to telephone interpretation in Vietnamese and more than 150 other languages.

Understanding When Additional Supports Are Needed

A senior called 211 for help locating her adult son. On the initial call, the Community Navigator referred her to the police and to the Family Tracing Service. Since the caller was quite emotional, the Service Navigator offered a follow up call in a few days to see how the caller was doing. The caller agreed.

The follow-up call revealed more information about the caller’s situation. The caller was emotional and cried often during the call. The Service Navigator listened to her and validated her feelings of fear and loss. When the senior was calmer, the Service Navigator made some suggestions about how best to follow up with the police and her son’s workplace.

The Service Navigator felt that the caller was very lonely and might benefit from being with other people and accessing some emotional support.  She suggested a call to a community agency where they have a COPE Program, a peer led group program to connect people who may be anxious or depressed to talk together about issues they face.

With the caller’s permission, the Service Navigator made a warm transfer and advocacy call, and stayed on the call for some time, as the caller talked to and listened to the program coordinator at the community agency.  She felt good knowing that the senior was now connected to an agency that could potentially help her as an older woman living by herself at home.


In Search of Safe Housing

A 211 Community Navigator received a call from a woman who needed to access a shelter immediately. She had been experiencing abuse from her partner, and the police had been called.

Although the woman was safe in a hotel at the time of her call, she feared for her safety once her abusive partner was released from police custody. This woman was particularly vulnerable because she has a physical disability.

The Service Navigator probed and learned the woman had not been in touch with any shelters, so on her behalf she called the Assaulted Women’s Helpline, which provides women with shelter referrals. The Service Navigator explained the situation to the helpline operator before making a “warm transfer” on the woman’s behalf.

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