LSS has partnered with the Community Voicemail project, a service that provides people in need with a local phone number, personal greeting, and means of retrieving voicemail messages. The service offers a weekly update for clients on community events, local services, places where they can get free meals, and more.
Through the project, LSS staff can provide phone numbers and voicemail access to clients who have neither a phone nor a place where messages can be left. The service is currently equipped to handle 604 and 778 area codes, and the long-term goal is to serve all of BC and, eventually, all of Canada.
Coordinated by the Lu’ma Native Housing Society, the project has grown quickly, with over 50 partner groups from health, justice, employment, housing, and women’s services providing numbers to about 900 people. This project has already helped people find housing, receive healthcare, find employment, contact family, and receive social assistance. While the number of LSS clients without phones is declining, seven percent of legal aid applicants have neither a phone nor voicemail, so many of our clients may benefit from this service.
For more information about the Community Voicemail project, read their recent report.
BC also has agencies that offer free or low-cost Internet services that people with low incomes may benefit from. These services include the South Island Community Access Network, which provides computer access to the general public in many locations in the South Vancouver Island region, Victoria Free-Net, a not-for-profit Internet service provider that provides Internet service and facilities at low cost, and the Vancouver Community Network, which provides free services to individuals, community groups, and non-profit organizations.
If you know about other free or low-cost services that could assist people with low incomes, please comment and let us know.