Need Help in New Hampshire? Call 211 NH to Get Connected to the Supports You Need
Rene, a single mom of three young children is having a hard time finding an apartment that she can afford. She was able to find housing with a friend for a while in a spare bedroom but was forced to leave early one morning with her three small children when the landlord was made aware of this situation.
People across New Hampshire face similar challenges every day, and like Rene, they are unsure who to call and where to access the resources they need. Fortunately, there is one easy-to-remember phone number to access the health and human services available in our state.
That number is 211.
Similar to dialing 911, calls to 211 are routed by the local telephone company to a call center. Thanks to our partnership with Eversource, dialing 211 will connect you to 211 NH - a Granite United Way initiative and the information and referral service for the entire State of New Hampshire.
“We have over 4,000 nonprofit agencies that offer a multitude of resources to anyone who calls in – from rental payment assistance to utility bill payment, or even help with Christmas and Thanksgiving,” explains Melina Burton, Director of 211 NH.
Once connected, callers speak directly with an Information and Referral Specialist, a real person, rather than an automated response. They speak to Heather who loves live music and has extensive experience working in the local nonprofit sector. They speak to Donna, a competitive runner, and compassionate listener. Whoever answers the phone at 211 NH, callers can trust that they’re speaking to someone who is ready to help.
After a few quick and anonymous intake questions, the Information and Referral Specialists will match the caller's needs to available resources in a state-wide database and connect them directly to the necessary agency or resources. These caring and local experts are trained to help with specific inquiries, like substance use disorder or homelessness, and provide personal, tailored care to each caller.
“Callers appreciate that we are genuinely interested in solving whatever they are struggling with,” said Paula, a 211 NH Information and Referral Specialist. “Hearing that someone feels better after speaking with us is one of the best parts of my job.”
While 211 NH does not provide any direct services themselves, their relationships with many key organizations throughout the state, like the Department of Health and Human Services for example, make it possible for callers to get quickly connected to solutions to some of our state’s most pressing concerns.
For callers looking for help related to substance use disorders, 211 NH and the Doorways establish an immediate direct connection or “warm transfer” between callers and a trained professional.
“When someone is looking for help with substance use disorder there are only minutes to capitalize on this moment of clarity,” said Burton. “We don’t want to just give them another phone number to call, we want them talking with a clinician right away.”
For calls related to homelessness, 211 NH performs a brief homeless intake survey and sends this information over to an outreach team that serves specific areas of the state. Callers are also given numbers to all emergency housing shelters within the state to check availability.
“We have an outreach team who stays in touch with our callers after they have been provided housing resources and update the 211 NH team on their progress,” says Burton. “This allows us to best help the caller if they call back looking for further assistance and eliminates the redundancy of providing callers with the same resources again. We can look at the caller's file and see where things were left.”
After Rene’s housing inquiry call with 211 NH she stated, “I have been treated really poorly by the places that I have called so far, this call has given me a little of my hope back that I will have somewhere warm for myself and my children to sleep tonight”.
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Chris Sununu assigned 211 NH as the primary contact for all COVID-19 information. In partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, callers were able to call 211 NH to schedule their vaccine appointments and were supplied with the most up-to-date information provided by the state. In 2020 alone, annual calls to 211 NH increased from 53,000 to 120,000.
The 211 NH team is more than just a voice of hope on the other end of a phone. They are the boots on the ground and active members of our community working hard to expand people’s knowledge of this important service. They participate in local back-to-school and public health events handing out supplies as well as 211 information cards to children and their families. They also provide presentations about 211 NH to local businesses, agencies, and government entities.
United Way recognizes the tremendous value that 211 NH provides to the people who live and work in our communities every single day. A donation to Granite United Way for 211 NH provides access to additional resources, efficiencies in meeting a variety of call situations, and an effective “virtual wrap-around” of services that can bring agencies together to address the needs of New Hampshire residents.
There are many costs associated with providing this type of Information and Referral service 24 hours a day/365 days a year. Support from United Way donors is essential to maintaining 211 NH’s operations to meet the needs of people who need us the most.