Impact

We made 144,663 connections in 2023. Further creating a community where everyone is heard.

At Distress Centre Calgary, we are here for people going through some of the most difficult times in their lives.  When someone is in crisis or needs navigation or referral support, the staff and volunteers at Distress Centre are here to listen and help. And we’ve been here since 1970. Learn more about our impact in 2023.

Crisis Support

54,038

crisis contacts (calls, chats, texts, emails), which includes 4,177 ConnecTeen contacts

Distress Centre provides 24 hour crisis support by phone, text and chat to Calgary and Southern Alberta. Anyone can contact Distress Centre when they’re in crisis to speak with a highly trained responder, receive emotional support and feel heard.

Teens and youth contact, ConnecTeen, can speak with a youth around their own age during daily peer support hours.

25.9%

of all crisis interactions were suicide related, a one percentage-point decrease from 2022, after years of increasing suicide-related contacts

1,439

emergency interventions, an increase of 23%

93.6%

of surveyed users would contact Distress Centre again if in crisis

93.1%

of surveyed users reported a stable or reduced level of distress at the end of their chat session

84%

of contacts initially assessed as high risk were stabilized and half (50.9%) of contacts initially assessed as High Risk were deescalated to Moderate/Low Risk

61.9%

of surveyed ConnecTeen users indicated that it’s important they speak to a youth

The top caller issues on our crisis lines were: Anxiety, suicide ideation, depressed mood, family relationships, isolation/loneliness.

CRISIS REPORT IMPACT STORIES

CRISIS REPORT IMPACT STORIES

“Ryan” called Distress Centre after an argument with his partner, feeling lonely and hopeless. He was crying and overwhelmed. The volunteer told Ryan that he was right to call DC, as this is a safe space for him and listened as he shared what he was going through. After completing a risk assessment with Ryan, the volunteer learned that he was having thoughts of suicide, but did not have a plan at this time, or a true desire to die by suicide. The thoughts were a result of the hopelessness he was feeling.

Together, Ryan and the volunteer developed a safety plan, a plan for someone to go through when they’re experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm to help identify coping mechanisms and get through the initial state of crisis until they can get further support. Then the volunteer completed an intake to our counselling program for Ryan and they discussed what Ryan could do after the call. Ryan thanked the volunteer sharing that he felt a lot better and was glad he’d decided to call Distress Centre.

CRISIS REPORT IMPACT STORIES

CRISIS REPORT IMPACT STORIES

“Fatma” reached out to ConnecTeen after having intense suicidal thoughts. She had no current plan, but had previously attempted to harm herself. She felt that her parents didn’t understand her and that she was a burden to them.

The volunteer validated what Fatma and made space for her to share her thoughts and feelings. Together they explored coping strategies and Fatma talked about some of her interests and hobbies that she would turn to when feeling overwhelmed. After talking for some time and further exploring Fatma’s relationship with her parents, Fatma felt empowered to speak with her mother about the suicidal thoughts she was experiencing. She passed the phone to her mother and the volunteer spoke with her about Fatma was going through and advocated for her support. The volunteer shared mental health resources with Fatma’s mother and they all agreed it was best for Fatma to go to the hospital. They thanked the volunteer for the help before ending the call.

Please note: Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of the program participant.

211 Information & Navigation Support

We made

50,230

connections through 211
in 2023.

When someone needs help and doesn’t know where to turn, 211 connects them with the right service for their issue. Calls, texts and chats are answered 24/7 by professional 211 Community Resource Specialists who are trained to assess needs, refer the person to the most appropriate service and help them navigate the network of community, social, health and government services.

14%

of 211 contacts were related to housing, up from 9.7% in 2021

7,103

calls were connected to 211 via the 211/911 co-location initiative 

3,183

In 2023, the HELP team (formally DOAP) was successfully dispatched 3,183 times from both calls diverted from 911 and directly from the community

73.8%

of surveyed users reported learning how to access community resources that meet their needs

94.6%

of surveyed users reported they are likely to contact 211 again if needed

2,904

Distress Centre’s Community Resource Database team validated 1,007 organizations and 2,904 services in 2023, ensuring that updated and accurate information is available in the Inform Alberta database

Most Common Reasons for Reaching Out in 2023: Information and Referral*, Undesignated Temporary Financial Assistance, Information Sources**, Crisis Intervention, Emergency Food.

*Information and Referral refers to programs whose primary purpose is to maintain information about human service resources in the community and to link people who need assistance with appropriate service providers and/or to supply descriptive information about the agencies or organizations which offer services.

** Information Sources refers to programs that provide live or recorded information about a particular topic or service that interested individuals can access by telephone. This includes Health Link-811.

Basic Needs Fund

We provided assistance to

290

clients in 2023

The Basic Needs Fund distributed $376,529 to individuals and families who needed one-time financial assistance, including support with rental arrears, damage deposits and utility payments.

211 IMPACT STORY

211 IMPACT STORY

“Regina” phoned 211 after she had been evicted from her home after falling behind on rent. She was a single mom of a toddler and was worried about where they would live. She was also scared that her ex, the father of her child who had ended the relationship, would find and harm them, as he had a history of domestic violence and had previously abused Regina.

The 211 Community Resource Specialist assessed the caller’s current safety and provided information about Child Intervention Services, ensuring that Regina would reach out to them. The 211 Specialist then connected Regina with domestic violence and abuse supports, emergency income supports and information on emergency protection orders. The specialist also scheduled a follow-up call for Regina to see how she faired with the provided resources and provide further support if needed. Regina shared that she had never called 211 before and appreciated the help creating a plan for her and her child to move forward.

911/211 CO-LOCATION IMPACT STORY

911/211 CO-LOCATION IMPACT STORY

"Barrett” phoned 911 after experiencing overwhelming mental health struggles during his first semester in post-secondary school. 911 dispatched CPS to the caller, but also transferred the call to 211, as part of our co-location work with 911, so the caller could receive crisis intervention and navigation support. The 211 Call Diversion and Navigation Specialist explored what was going on with Barrett and was able to de-escalate the intense emotions Barrett had been feeling and bring him to a calmer state. The specialist provided mental health resources and worked with him to develop a safety plan.  The specialist also eased Barrett’s worries about meeting with attending officers by coaching them on how to communicate to officers about their plan tos tay safe for the rest of the evening.

Please note: Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of the program participant.

Volunteers

26,688

hours of crisis support by phone, chat and text in 2023

Volunteers Hands icon

334 total crisis and online services volunteers and 47 ConnecTeen volunteers in 2023

Person's Heart icon

78% of surveyed volunteers report learning new skills at Distress Centre

94% of surveyed volunteers report using their skills outside Distress Centre

Our highly trained volunteers are dedicated to making a difference by providing compassionate support to those in distress. In turn, Distress Centre is dedicated to supporting the incredible work they do. We ensure they are prepared, comfortable and successful in their role. The volunteers then use the skills and experience they gain in their personal and professional lives, to help build a more resilient community for all. 

“What’s made this the most special for me is not only the people I connect with but also our mentors, who have helped me time and time again to stay motivated, to feel heard, and to support me on the lines. Being able to work with someone who actually cares about me and wants to see me succeed and be the best crisis responder that I can be has been really significant for me, and it’s been really important, and it’s helped me through a lot.”

— ConnecTeen Volunteer

“I know that I can’t prepare them for every single call but seeing a volunteer start, when they have those nervous jitters, and then seeing how they’ve grown as a crisis line volunteer, in their comfortability, their mindset and their skill sets – to have played a role in making them feel more confident – that’s what makes me feel fulfilled as a leadership volunteer.”

— Leadership Volunteer

Counselling

To help with more complex issues, our professional crisis counsellors provide free short-term counselling for individuals, couples and families at Distress Centre.

2,012

total counselling contacts

1,766

counselling appointments in 2023

92%

of surveyed clients reported they were better able to cope at the end of counselling

90%

of surveyed clients reported that they were better able to cope with their circumstances and issues 60-90 days post counselling

Counselling Impact Story

“Phillipa” was referred to Distress Centre’s counselling program by her doctor, as she was experiencing depression, isolation and stress related to a health condition. She was especially struggling to manage her depression as the anniversary of her sister’s death was approaching. Her goal when she began counselling was to develop more effective coping strategies to alleviate depression, process grief and help her better manage her health condition. The counsellor at Distress Centre guided her through the grieving process, helping her channel her emotions into honouring her sister’s memory. Phillipa was encouraged to reduce her isolation by connecting with close friends who had been identified as positive influences in her life. She also decided to explore other opportunities to get involved in her community and meet new people. They also discussed a self-care routine that Phillipa could follow to develop positive habits. By the sixth and final session, Phillipa expressed her gratitude to the counsellor for helping her reach her goals of better managing her grief, depression and health issues and supporting her through a difficult time.

Please note: Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of the program participant.

Coordinated Entry

We served

4,434

unique individuals and families
in 2023, providing 14,513
unique services 

Distress Centre’s Coordinated Entry program provides multiple programs and services at the location of SORCe, all with the goal of serving people experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness by connecting them to supports and services and addressing financial instability.

This program directly provides support beyond system navigation and referral to holistically support housing, health, finances, and community connection.

Distress Centre’s programs at SORCe:

Coordinated Access and Assessment (CAA):

  • The CAA Housing Strategist Team acts as the primary program for the Homeless Serving System of care for access to CAA Supportive Housing Programs, and targeted outreach to Health & Justice Partners
  • Coordinated Entry Trainer provides training & mentorship for Calgary door agencies, housing plan & resourcing training for shelter, outreach, health partners
  • System Navigators & Resource Specialists provide in-person system navigation, information & resources, and supported referrals to support housing plans for individuals who are not eligible or do not require supportive housing

Community Supports:

  • ID Replacement: provides support to obtain birth certificates, government-issued ID, Alberta Health Care Cards
  • Communications Hub: provides access to computers and phones to support employment, treatment applications, affordable housing, etc. with the support of a System Navigator & Resource Specialist
  • Prevention & Diversion: provides short-term light touch case management for those not eligible/requiring supportive housing programs. This includes support for rental navigation, move-in, accessing income support and referrals to community supports
  • Financial Empowerment: provides taxation & benefits support, financial coaching and pensions over 65

Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response:

Distress Centre is a partner of the Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response, which runs from November 1, 2023 through March 31, 2024. The Coordinated Entry Program provides a social support team at a community site to support vulnerable and unsheltered individuals facing extreme weather conditions.

  • The Coordinated Entry team offered assistance this season at Journey Church for the second year and had a team at a new pilot location this year of Parachutes for Pets, in addition to returning to Journey Church. These teams provide System Navigation & Resource Specialists, Housing Strategists, and ID workshops.
  • This season the teams provided 5442 services over 3113 visits to 736 unique individuals at Journey Church, a 188% increase to services provided compared to 2022 and a 153% increase in total visits
  • This season the teams provided 2702* services over 1480 visits to 455 unique individuals at Parachutes for Pets
1,653

housing assessments or updates, and 12,950 housing check-ins 

157

housing strategists were trained at 20 community partner door agencies

720

unique ID Replacement services in 2023

Coordinated Entry Impact Stories

Coordinated Entry Impact Stories

“Rei” arrived at SORCe seeking immediate housing for herself and her two children. She spoke with the System Navigator team, part of DC’s Coordinated Entry program and shared that she had recently fled from a family violence situation in British Columbia.The System Navigator began making phone calls to shelters, but no space was available. After roughly four hours of phone calls and advocating for Rei, the navigator was able to find a safe place for her at a local women’s emergency shelter. A taxi was provided for Rei by DI Victime Services, another agency at SORCe, and the family left feeling a lot better about their situation. Rei returned to SORCe and filled out a Needs and Services Questionnaire (NSQ) with a Coordinated Entry Housing Strategist. Three weeks later, Rei and her children were referred to another housing program, giving her family a safe place to call home.

Coordinated Entry Impact Stories

Coordinated Entry Impact Stories

“Len” was a long-term program participant at SORCe who had engaged with multiple programs due to suffering from mental and physical health issues.Through his own hard work and with the support of the agencies at SORCe, he was doing well and ready to seek employment. But he lacked ID, which was a significant barrier to obtaining a job. Len engaged with DC’s ID Specialist, who made phone calls to obtain all the necessary information for Len to receive ID and then met with Len at the registry to complete the process. After receiving the ID, he was able to secure a job and feel excitement about starting work, bringing in income and eventually getting his own place. He still receives support from the programs at SORCe, particularly our Engagement and Triage team, to support him in building his future.

Please note: Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of the program participant.