(Innisfil/Bradford, ON) South Simcoe Police Service is teaming up with the Ontario Provincial Police, Barrie Police Service, Simcoe County Paramedic Services and the County of Simcoe to launch a 211 awareness campaign called #HelpStartsNow. The week-long social media initiative coincides with the annual 211 Day across North America on February 11. The collaborative campaign is aimed at educating our communities about the services provided by 211.

Did you know?

· 211 is a free, confidential, 24 hour a day, 7 day a week helpline

· 211 connects people to local food programs, income and housing assistance, home support services, mental health services, substance use support, and so much more

· 211 offers service in over 150 languages

· 211 navigators can help you navigate the various COVID-19 relief programs

· Across Ontario, 211 is available by phone (dial 2-1-1) or by visiting 211.ca with a live chat option also available. Texting will be available in the coming weeks.

We understand that many people are struggling during the pandemic. Emergency services and community partners are collaborating with this campaign to ensure our residents know they are not alone. Help starts now at 211.

The #HelpStartsNow campaign will feature community champions, local police services, students, paramedics, and many more as we work together to deliver important information about this invaluable service. The social media campaign will bring awareness to the free support and navigation 211 provides on needs related to employment, housing, food security, mental health and addictions and so much more. As always, 911 is for emergencies.

Please follow along on all our social media accounts to learn more about the services provided:

Ontario Provincial Police:
· Twitter: @OPP_CR (#NottyOPP, #OrilliaOPP, #SGBOPP, #HurWOPP, #CwoodOPP)
· Facebook: @OPPCentralRegion

Barrie Police Service:
· Twitter: @BarriePolice
· Facebook: Barrie Police Service
· Instagram; Barrie Police Service

South Simcoe Police Service:
· Twitter: @SouthSimcoePS
· Facebook: South Simcoe Police
· Instagram: South Simcoe Police Service

County of Simcoe:
· Twitter: @simcoecounty
· Facebook: County of Simcoe
· Instagram: CountyofSimcoe

County of Simcoe Paramedic Services:
· Twitter: @simcoecountyPS
· Facebook: Simcoe County Paramedic Services
· Instagram: Paramedics of Simcoe County

211 Ontario:
· Twitter: @211Ontario
· Facebook: Ontario 211
· Instagram: 211Ontario

“We know that there are those in our community that need help, but don’t always know where to turn to find it. 211 is a valuable service that is there to help people navigate these challenging times. And we know that the abundance of “11” phone services can be confusing. We want people to call 911 for emergencies, but also know that there is 511 for information about provincial highways, and 411 is like the old yellow pages. But 211 is the best kept secret and needs to be used more often, and a service we want everyone to be aware of and take advantage of.” – Chief Andrew Fletcher.

“211 is like the best kept secret that we want everyone to be aware of. 911 is for emergencies. 211 is there with a helping hand and a guiding voice to help you navigate through the day to day challenges many of us are facing.” –Pamela Hillier, 211 Central East Ontario.

For further information, media contacts:

Sue Sgambati, Corporate Communications Specialist, South Simcoe Police Service
Katy Viccary, Media Relations Officer, Ontario Provincial Police
Peter Leon, Corporate Communications Coordinator, Barrie Police Service
Paul Wuergler, Community Paramedicine Coordinator, County of Simcoe Paramedic Services
James Nightingale, Public Relations Manager, County of Simcoe