Finding and using community resources

30 Sep 2014 06:11
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When someone is having a hard time, friends or family sometimes say, "You need help" or "You need professional help." But all people actually have the same basic needs — enough to eat, a safe and restful place to sleep, supportive community, meaningful work, dignity, and persona growth. "Help" isn't a need, but a way to decide and get what you need!

Deciding who to call

When you decide to reach out to community resources, you have to decide who to call. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you calling for yourself? Are you calling for someone else? Is someone else making the call for you? The person who wants support should make her own decisions, even if she doesn't make the call herself.
  • What do you want? Often people think of an institution or program before they think of their wants or needs. For instance, if you are thinking of going to an emergency room, what do you actually want? Would a free clinic, a mental health crisis line, or a friend be better or worse options?
  • What obstacles might you encounter? It is important to plan for obstacles, understand how programs work, and learn how to get what you actually want. For instance, some programs only accept people who can prove they are homeless. Other programs only accept people who can prove they have a legal address. Are you prepared to prove homelessness or residency?

Make a list of who you want to call and any questions you have. It can also help to write down what you want, and how you think each call might help you get it.

Tips for health promoters

Call all numbers on your referral list except 911 before you have to use them. Tell the operators that you don't need their services right now, then ask about what services they provide and how to access each service. Visit places you might send people so you can give good directions.

Some helplines and advocate lines require you to leave a name and number and be called back within ten minutes. Calling all the numbers on your list helps you learn how each service operates.

If you're building a resource list

Be sure to include resources from these categories:

  • Financial assistance and free care
  • Mental health services
  • Substance abuse services
  • Sexual assault and domestic violence advocate services
  • Disability rights and resources
  • Services for undocumented immigrants
  • Sexual health promotion and pregnancy options
  • Non-emergency basic needs

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