United Way’s ‘211’ Helpline Connects People In Need To Services
OGDEN, Utah — People all over Utah are feeling stress from the pandemic — whether it’s paying rent or mortgage, putting food on the table or finding affordable medical services. But the United Way’s 211 is helping connect those in need with community and social services.
Single mom Daisy Lael was seeking help so she doesn’t lose her home.
“Even though I’m working full-time, I’m still sinking and getting potentially evicted,” said Lael, who lives in Bountiful.
Lael said she finds herself in a situation so many people are facing because of the pandemic.
“On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst and one being nothing, I was probably at an eight or nine when I got a letter from my landlord that said, ‘hey, you’re past due again,'” she said.
But there’s a three-digit phone number that is offering help to those in need.
The United Way’s 211 number is a free, statewide information referral service that connects people to community and social services.
“It houses information from about 10,000 services, ranging from housing to food to mental health, to virtually anything you can think of,” said Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake.
Crim said their service is a problem solver.
“The top needs that people call about are housing, food, and health-related,” he said. “When money gets tight, they need emergency food — that’s the second most frequent request.”
The 211 helpline connects people to nonprofits, mediation programs and charitable organizations.
Along with housing, food and medical problems, 211 can also help with unemployment, domestic violence, legal and transportation issues.
“Simply put, we aren’t case managers — we don’t provide direct service, and we don’t connect people to for-profit organizations,” said Beth Martial, 211 managing director. “But Utah 211 is here to connect Utahns to health and human services that are free and accessible throughout the state: from utilities, food assistance, housing, mental health, health care, income support, transportation, substance use, legal needs, clothing and household.”
Crim said calls to the helpline have increased by 30 percent since COVID-19 hit, and online requests have doubled.
He admitted the high call volume has caused some communication issues.
“If people are finding barriers, we want to know about that, to make sure we can correct it as fast as we can,” he said.
The United Way encouraged anyone who has hit roadblocks to call back.
Despite setbacks, Lael said she is hopeful.
“Even though times are hard, I know that eventually, something will happen,” she said. “I’m hoping that me and the rest of the community can take what comes our way, and turn it into something good.”
Besides calling 211 for help, you can text the United Way at 898-211 and enter your zip code in the dialogue box, or visit the company’s website.
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How Do I Prevent It?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
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- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
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