Thursday, February 11th was designated 2-1-1 Day, a day designed to raise awareness about this national service.

2-1-1 is a free round the clock service that connects individuals to a live facilitator, and directs them to the community-based programs and services they’re looking for.

The 24/7 phone line has only recently become available in Manitoba in October 2020. Daria Lukie works with The United Way and serves as Provincial Director for the 211 service in Manitoba.

“We’ve had 2-1-1 since 2017 as a website. People could visit, self-serve, look for programs and services, trying to get connected to help. Since October we have the phone line now, so people can dial 2-1-1 from anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”

New statistics from United Way Centraide Canada show many Canadians are struggling to pay bills and dealing with mental health issues as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Helpline staff are hearing first-hand from Canadians about these issues, reinforcing the value of 2-1-1’s navigation service.

“That is why the federal government ensured every Canadian has access to 2-1-1 in some way. Through that, Manitoba was able to get this phone line. It’s been go-go-go since. We’ve seen lots of people calling in.” Lukie says

United Way Winnipeg has relied heavily on word-of-mouth to promote the service, garnering over 4,000 calls over the past four months. Future plans for a full 2-1-1 Manitoba service will include text and/or online chat capacity.