Outreach Vans

Every night, thousands of Israeli teens and young adults roam public parks, town squares, hangouts and hideouts. Many of them have dropped out of educational or therapeutic frameworks and wander the streets. Without support or assistance, these youth suffer from environmental, social and emotional neglect and often deteriorate to drinking, drug use and self-harm.

What are ELEM’s Outreach Vans?

Since 1996, specially equipped vans staffed by ELEM professionals and volunteers provide immediate responses to youth at-risk on the streets. The staff of the outreach vans travel to meet the teens on their turf. They provide mentorship and support and help them to acquire the services they need to get “Off the Streets and On to Life.” The vans have been adapted for informal meetings with youth. Inside, there is a place to sit, to serve hot drinks and refreshments, a telephone, informational materials and contraceptives.

What areas do Outreach Vans serve?

ELEM currently operates 15 vans operating in 24 communities: Haifa, Atlit, Netanya, Tel Aviv- Yafo, Or Yehuda, Petach Tikva, Bat- Yam, Holon, Hevel Modi’in, Ramle, Lod, Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Sderot, Ofakim, Elad, Modi’in Illit, Beitar, and Safed, and an additional project, Night Birds (street work without a van) in Hod Hasharon. For a full map of our programs, click here.

Who is served by Outreach Vans?

Youth and young adults, aged 12-26, roaming the streets at night, coping with issues of adolescence, instability within the family unit, relations with peers, as well as lack of access or disappointment with institutional therapeutic frameworks, and/or a degree of distrust with the adult world. Under these conditions, the vans staff meet the youth, alongside the dangers that the street creates, such as alcohol use, delinquency, violence and involvement in prostitution. In 2018, over 10,000 teens and young adults received assistance from the ELEM Outreach Vans.

New Research

  • An increase in the number of incidents of sexual violence- there is a continuum of interventions undertaken by ELEM staff who work on the street in events related to sexuality in the streets. Where on the one end lies pro-active interventions and taking initiative (physical separation of participants in the event) on the other end passiveness (observation, keeping a distance, examination of the situation). The type of intervention is selected according to the nature of the event, the level of its clarity, the characteristic of the ELEM staff worker and the need they identify.

  • Residing in isolated areas- youth rent apartments or dwell in shelters in order to carry out activities such as risky and indiscriminate sexual behavior, sexual abuse, drug and substance abuse and other risky behaviors without adult supervision.

  • Meeting children under the age of 12 who roam the streets after midnight. Most are in in the process of running away from home.

  • In 2018, outreach teams located more than 180 youth experiencing a form of homelessness, 50% of whom were under the age of 18 and half of whom were girls.

In this video, Diana Golbi, winner of the Israeli version of “American Idol,” returns to the streets of Holon to meet with ELEM social workers who helped inspire her to pursue her dreams when she came to them as a struggling teen.

Achievements for 2018

  • Project “back to the community” in the Chareidi community- greater in depth street work in the cities of- Beitar Illit, Safed, Jerusalem (Ramat Shlomo), and Beit Shemesh. Beginning of ELEM Street work with Ultra-Orthodox young women and the recruitment of Ultra-Orthodox volunteers from the community.

Expansion and Development goals

  • Expand or establish services for specific sectors including the Ultra-Orthodox/Chareidi and Arab communities.

  • Establish services for the 18+ age range.

  • Expand services for high-risk youth, including youth involved with prostitution and those who are homeless.

  • Establish services specifically designed for female teens and young adults.