YEDID's Mobile Rights and Health Center is a van divided into two sections, a Citizen Rights Center and a Health Center. The mobile team consists of a YEDID staff member or volunteer together with a health professional. By combining a Citizen Rights Center with a Health Center, the unit provides a response to both medical and social problems. A YEDID director on board ensures that clients are aware of their social and economic rights, and a health professional carries out routine health checks and screenings for various illnesses. By providing holistic healthcare and outreach to low-income and underserved people, and by working with respect and dignity, the mobile unit staff earns clients' trust and empowers the latter to become more active in their own healthcare.
The Mobile Center is a cost-effective way to serve a broad social and geographical range, and to collect valuable information on the needs of vulnerable populations. For example, YEDID, together with Dr. Roni Kaufman, Head of the Social Science Center of Ben Gurion University, has instituted a questionnaire that will help create a portrait of the health consequences of food insecurity among elderly adults. Much of the research on food insecurity focuses on young and middle-aged adults and households with children. Resulting findings, definitions and measurements are therefore a reflection of these populations. Because of this focus, food insecurity among older adults remains poorly understood. YEDID will use the data it collects to study the relationship between health and food security, as well as that of poverty and food security.
From the beginning of May through the end of July, 2013, YEDID's Mobile Health and Rights Center ran five health days, serving 330 middle aged and elderly adults of diverse religions and ethnicities. One of these Health Days was run specifically for Holocaust Survivors. In addition, the center assisted 193 clients in accessing their legal rights and benefits. The majority of these clients turned to the center with issues regarding public housing, debt and repossessions, and obtaining benefits from the National Insurance Institute. The following story is taken from the period covered by this report:
In July 2010, a client turned to the Mobile Center in Carmiel. This client had been living in a public housing apartment in Kiryat Tiyon for many years, until the year 1987, at which point he moved. When he left the apartment, he had paid all that he owed and had no debts to the public housing company nor to the municipality. However, in 2010, the City Council of Kiryat Tivon sent him a letter demanding that he pay a sum of 26,000 shekels for a property tax debt that had been building until 2004 – a random date indeed. The client called the council and explained that he had not been a resident of Kiryat Tivon since 1987, but the council continued to badger him for immediate payment.
The client turned to YEDID in a panic, and asked for help in getting the inexplicable debt cancelled. First, the center director went to the Kiryat Tivon Collections Department to learn how the debt had come into being. The Billing Department clerk was unable to specify the components of the debt due to the amount of time that had passed. The center director then went to the director of the Collection Department, who was very helpful throughout the entire process. The center director and her client were asked to write a detailed letter to cancel the debt on account of non-receipt of details, as well as aging of the debt.
The request was transferred to a legal advisor for the City Council. The process was gruelingly slow – for the last three years, YEDID's center director called the director of the Collections Department every few months to director to get answers. Every time, she was told that "these things take time." All the while, the debt continued to grow and eventually reached 33,000 shekels! But in May 2013, patience and persistence finally paid off. The center received notice that the debt has been altogether cancelled!
On behalf of YEDID's staff, volunteers, and clients, I thank our supporters for their partnership. The immediate and essential assistance that the center provides to individuals across the country could never happen without your help. Thank you so much!