What can a family do when their primary provider suffers from a change in employment status?
How can an individual find a safe and confidential way out of a physically or emotionally abusive situation?
Where does a homeless veteran go for crucial support services?
The unpredictability of life can bestow unimaginable hardships like this on anyone – friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. Fortunately, 2-1-1 is here to connect individuals in need of assistance with the agencies and organizations that can help stabilize them and get them back on their feet.
In 2017, over 1.6 million people across North America requested help combatting food insecurity. Another 4.4 million reached out for assistance with housing or utilities, and 2 million more sought support related to physical or mental health and health care. Accessible by phone or computer 24/7, 2-1-1’s free and confidential referral and information helplines across the country can empower individuals in need to seek out services that can not only improve lives but save them.
Here at United Way of Escambia County, we are proud to house 2-1-1 of Northwest Florida, which serves Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties across the Florida Panhandle. Our comprehensive database of services in our community empowers residents to become their own advocates by connecting them to the information they need.
In 1985, 2-1-1 of Northwest Florida originated as ‘First Call For Help (FCFH)’. Despite being contracted out to an external agency for a period of time, it returned to United Way following Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
In 2011, with grant funding and support from multiple sources, United Way of Escambia County converted First Call For Help to 2-1-1. This meant more than simply changing the name and phone number, however. To meet state requirements, 2-1-1 would be staffed 24/7, and the program would meet significant national accreditation standards and have the equipment, personnel, and support to maintain service during any disaster.
In 2016-17, over 24,000 people called 2-1-1 Northwest Florida to be connected with local resources. From those calls, over 56,000 referrals were given. Sometimes, however, citizens need additional help getting the assistance or support they need. Our 2-1-1 Specialists contacted agencies on behalf of 500 callers who needed this individualized assistance. Going this extra step can make all the difference in ensuring that some individuals receive the support they need, and it illuminates this team’s unwavering commitment to our community.