Tens of thousands turn to 211 helpline

A helpline that connects Albertans to community, government, and social services received more than 88,000 calls in 2016.

Just over half of all calls to the 211 number last year were about income and social assistance; housing supports; transportation; and public service information.

The call data provides “a view to the mostly invisible social service needs in the province,” said the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (Edmonton Region), which operates the United Way-funded phone line.

“Our community, social, and government services are plentiful but complex to navigate, and many Alberta residents find it difficult to know where to begin,” said Ione Challborn. “On average, a person will make seven calls before finding the help they need.”

Residents should always call 911 for a life-threatening emergency, when a property is in danger, or a crime is in progress, the organization said in a release. For health advice and information residents can call HealthLink at 811.

The 211 helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides service in more than 170 languages.

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