“211, Marcus speaking. How can I help you?”
“I’m trying to get into a women’s shelter,” said a woman named Sofia* on the other end of the phone. “I’ve tried one but it’s full. I have a newborn as well who I need to take with me. I’m just finding this whole thing really overwhelming.”
“I can definitely help you. Are you safe right now?” Asked Marcus, a 211 Information & Referral Specialist at Distress Centre.
“I am now, my husband is away on a work trip,” Sofia responded, her voice trembling. Marcus could hear some items being shuffled. “I’m packing. I want to be gone before he gets home.”
Marcus quickly searched for women’s shelters in Calgary and found three that could be a good fit for Sofia’s situation. He passed the numbers onto her and offered to follow up with her in a few hours. She accepted.
Upon calling back, Marcus could hear that Sofia was crying. He could also hear a child crying in the background.
“I’m having a hard time talking to the shelters,” she explained. “And my son is having a bad day. I’m trying to call shelters, pack my stuff and tend to my son – it’s all too much.”
“Could I make some calls on your behalf?” Marcus offered. Sofia gratefully agreed. He contacted and spoke to several domestic violence shelters and found one who could take Sofia and her son.
“Thank you,” Sofia said when Marcus called her back. “I don’t know what I would have done without 211.”
We’ve responded to 21,967 211 calls like Sofia’s so far in 2018 (as of October 31st). In December, we’re sharing some of our users’ stories to explore why Distress Centre matters.
We need your help. Demand for our services has increased significantly in 2018, and suicide remains a top issue. 70% of our contacts occur in the evening, so we need to keep online services open longer. This means additional midnight staff are needed 365 days of the year.
Donate to Distress Centre, so we can continue to help callers like Sofia. Double your donation – Monarch has agreed to continue matching donations until we reach $5000! With matching, that comes to $10,000 for our crisis services!
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*This story is based on a real call we received. Identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the caller and volunteer.