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1 Apr 2022

Mayor Kenney, City Council announce new violence prevention community resources and 211 hotline

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April 1, 2022 Category: Local Posted by:

The Kenney administration and City Council, in partnership with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) and 211 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA),  launched a 24-hour violence prevention hotline on March 21. By dialing “2-1-1,” callers can access resources and services related to gun violence prevention for themselves and their neighborhoods. The new hotline will provide real-time support to people at-risk for engaging in violence, or who are in neighborhoods experiencing high rates of gun violence. These supports are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and are available via phone call, text, email, or website chat.

Developed in 2021 as a partnership between the Kenney administration and City Council, the creation of the hotline was a response to the surge in gun violence experienced in Philadelphia over the past two years. Acknowledging the complexity of the gun violence crisis in Philadelphia, and recognizing a need for preventive services, a violence prevention hotline was proposed by Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and developed in partnership with the Managing Director’s Office.

The goal of the hotline is to:

Reduce the likelihood of individuals to engage in violence by offering real-time access to critical violence prevention and intervention services.

Help residents in neighborhoods experiencing high levels of violence to connect with services and resources that will help them address quality of life issues, as well as trauma resulting from persistent gun violence.

“In 2022, we continue to strive towards stronger collaboration and coordination across all our services, but especially those dedicated to getting to the root of our gun violence crisis,” Kenney said. “Today is an important milestone in our fight against this crisis — one that will help save lives while connecting people to critical resources available in our communities. 

The creation of a Violence Prevention Hotline will enhance our ability to deliver needed services while also allowing us to increase our ability to get people to the resources and services they need, in a timely fashion.”

“When people in our neighborhoods are exposed to violence, it can seem overwhelming, and they don’t know where to turn,” Clarke said. “That’s why we need a one-stop shop like this new Hotline. Call 2-1-1 – and whatever different kinds of services you need to keep you or your neighborhood safe, the City will connect you with the right person or agency to help you right away.”

Examples of the kinds of services and resources which will be available to residents who call the 2-1-1 hotline for help include:

  • Conflict intervention
  • Youth violence prevention
  • Peer counseling
  • Referrals to violence prevention community organizations
  • Neighborhood crisis mediation services
  • Workforce development and job training programs
  • Behavioral health and crisis support services
  • Community support services (CLIP, L&I) for vandalism, graffiti, litter, vacant lots
  • After-school programming, mentoring & academic support services

To connect residents with these services, the City of Philadelphia has contracted with UWGPSNJ and 211 SEPA. UWGPSNJ funds nonprofit organizations and delivers at-scale, long-term solutions that break the cycle of poverty. 211 SEPA is a health and human service hotline that links individuals to services within southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.

“Every major issue that our region faces has its roots in poverty,” said Bill Golderer, CEO and president of UWGPSNJ. “Gun violence is no exception. Philadelphians want to prevent violence in their neighborhoods and young people want to find programs that give them hope and opportunities. They just aren’t sure where to start. Starting now, United Way’s 211 Resource Navigators are standing by to connect Philadelphians to the services they need.”

UWGPSNJ and 211 SEPA are qualified to provide violence prevention hotline support and implementation. 211 SEPA is strengthened by a network of hundreds of partner agencies, programs and resources. It’s capable of providing translation in over 170 languages; provides interactions 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year; and has flexible communication channels with call, text and chat available.

By dialing the easy-to-remember 2-1-1 number, callers are directed to a menu where the caller can select the Violence Prevention Hotline. 

These calls are routed to trained 211 Violence Prevention Hotline staff. During an interaction with the 211 line, callers are engaged in a conversation that involves active listening and information gathering, resulting in the Resource Navigator directing the caller to the most appropriate referral service or agency. 

Individuals that reach out to the Hotline are offered a follow-up contact, about one week after the initial call, at an agreed upon time, to determine if referrals were successful, or if further help is needed.

Hotline staff receive two to four weeks of specialized training and complete a shadowing process with experienced staff before being authorized to handle hotline calls on their own. Staff receive ongoing training on topics such as trauma-informed care and mental health first aid, and are expected to complete the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) certification.

City officials emphasized that the hotline is a resource hub and a preventative tool. If you or a loved one are experiencing or witnessing a crime in real-time, Philadelphians should call 911.

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