Cold weather shelters are opening in Greater Victoria as the temperature cools. A new service provided through bc211 will provide real-time information on where shelter beds are available in the city. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Cold weather shelters are opening in Greater Victoria as the temperature cools. A new service provided through bc211 will provide real-time information on where shelter beds are available in the city. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

United Way, bc211 activate shelter bed helpline and real-time list for Greater Victoria

Street community, service providers can access interactive map to find open shelter spaces

As Victoria’s extreme weather protocol comes into effect, United Way Greater Victoria and bc211 will be helping more people in the region find a warm place to sleep.

On the heels of a successful release in the Lower Mainland, a new shelter and street helpline was announced today and will be available here through bc211. The resource will provide real-time assistance to help people affected by homelessness find shelter for the night.

Jen Wilde, regional co-ordinator for the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Response Plan, said she is grateful to United Way for funding the program for the Capital Region.

“I look forward to alleviating the struggle of calling multiple resources to determine which facility would be right or accessible for those seeking emergency shelter services,” she said. “[The helpline] is a resource that just makes sense, both to the clients we serve and front line service providers who are trying to advocate for them.”

BC211 staff will call the 10 shelters, including year-round, seasonal and emergency shelters in Greater Victoria, twice daily and publish the bed and mat availability as an online PDF and on an interactive map. Both services are mobile-friendly. This information also gives front line shelter staff and police access to information to help locate available beds.

“You can look at things in real time throughout the day, so for the police, they encounter people on the street, they are able to pull something up on their phone or … [looking at the interactive map] … they will be able to see what’s available,” said United Way Greater Victoria CEO Patricia Jelinski. “Or they can just simply call standing there in the street and say, ‘hey, 211 what’s available, where can we send somebody?’”

VicPD Chief Const. Del Manak noted that his officers often are faced with helping steer people toward community resources beyond what they can offer themselves. He said the shelter and street helpline gives police another valuable tool to ensure people in need are connected to the help they need in times of crisis. On top of the other assistance provided by bc211 – finding housing or locating an addictions counsellor, for example – it will help free up officers’ time to attend other high-priority calls, he added.

READ: United Way Greater Victoria embarks on ambitious multi-year campaign

United Way made the announcement of the new service on Thank You Thursday, noting that the addition of this function to the bc211 service was made possible through the generosity of United Way donors.

Anyone looking to locate the nearest available bed, as well as which shelters allow carts and/or pets and are wheelchair accessible, can call or text 211 to speak with an agent 24/7, in 160 languages.

The interactive map can be found at streetmessenger.io/map, or the regularly updated PDF can be downloaded at shelters.bc211.ca/bc211shelters.

For more information about United Way or to donate, visit uwgv.ca or call 250-385-6708.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

United WayUnited Way Greater Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Anvy Technologies CEO Victor Nicolov displays his company’s innovative garbage disposal device, the Sepura. (Courtesy of Anvy Technologies)
Goodbye garburator, this Victoria company has a clean composting solution

Sepura has made Times Magazine’s ‘100 Best Inventions of 2020’ for its hassle-free functioning

Merchants along Fort Street are hosting the Winter Wander holiday shopping event Dec. 5. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Wander along Fort Street for a total holiday shopping experience

Merchants featuring discounts, special offerings; community event set for Dec. 5

Sweetpal Chauhan, operator of several Shell Gas stations in Greater Victoria, donated 100 jackets and 100 sleeping bags to Our Place on Friday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria businessman donates 100 jackets, 100 sleeping bags to Our Place

Warm jackets, sleeping bags can mean the ‘difference between life and death’

Nikita, a four-year-old German Shepherd that was attacked by a buck in a backyard in Esquimalt Sunday is lucky the injury wasn't more severe. (Photo contributed by Suzette Goldsworthy)
Esquimalt dog owner issues alert after deer injures German shepherd

Nikita needed stitches after an early morning encounter

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read