During a pandemic or disaster, things change quickly. Government supports and social services might be closed, have limited hours, or have significant phone wait times. New community resources might pop up as people try their best to respond to community needs.

Information and referral services such as 211 Alberta are essential in reducing the strain on emergency services, government departments and support service agencies during disaster situations by handling non-emergency calls. 

211 is an essential service that helps Albertans find the right resource or service for whatever issue they need help with, at the right time.

How 211 Alberta can help you during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a government or social services agency

  • 211 acts as a communication hub. One phone call, text conversation or online chat is all that is needed to get people to the right place, limiting the number of instances of misinformation and misdirection for those seeking support. 211 also prevents a large number of confusing help lines from being developed.
  • 211 hosts a comprehensive database of resources and services. The need for this information during a disaster when available resources can change on a daily, or even hourly basis. New resources surface while others may become unavailable. 211 Information and Referral Specialist can also use this data to identify unmet needs and monitor the allocation of available resources. For the most up-to-date information 211 has, here’s 211’s COVID-19 Resource List.
  • 211 can expand the capacity of first responders by diverting calls from emergency responders during a disaster.
  • 211’s data has the potential to play a key role in identifying trends of previous disaster response to help in shaping the response of future disasters. To subscribe to 211’s Weekly Covid-19 Report, click here.
    211 can help build up sector capacity and build connections by linking community organizations together prior to disaster striking.

As someone who needs help:

  • 211’s infrastructure and network allows for the system to have extended capacity and reach during a disaster. Since the comprehensive database is online, it can be accessed from many regions, and makes resources accessible beyond the communities from which they originate.
  • 211 Information and Referral Specialists can provide support to callers post-disaster, connect them with services and meet new needs that may have surfaced because of the disaster.
  • 211 Information and Referral Specialists are highly skilled in crisis intervention.
  • To reach 211, dial 2-1-1, text INFO to 211 or visit www.ab.211.ca and click “live chat.”

As someone who wants to help:

One of the largest gaps that arises during a disaster is coordinating the influx of donation and volunteer offers of support that come in. In many cases, agencies do not have the capacity to respond, and helpers can feel discouraged when their offers are not taken up. 211 can coordinate these offers of help and support by directing people to available opportunities to be of service. In partnership with VolunteerConnector, 211 can refer people to available volunteer opportunities and coach them on how to use the VolunteerConnector website at https://www.volunteerconnector.org/.

To help keep 211 up-to-date, visit the 211 Alberta website to check information about your organization’s
programs and services. If you have any updates, email database@ab.211.ca

211 is here to help individuals looking for support and frontline staff looking for information about changing
resources during a pandemic. It is a part of our community of supports that can help direct you to the right
place.

Learn more: https://www.ab.211.ca/