• Austria edition
 
Austrian of the week
Ute Bock, champion of the refugees
Photo: APA/ROLAND SCHLAGER

Ute Bock, champion of the refugees

Published: 20 Jun 2014 15:29 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Jun 2014 15:29 GMT+02:00

Born in 1942 in Linz, Upper Austria, Bock first worked as an educator in a special school.  In 1969 she took up a position at a home for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Zohmanngasse, in Vienna's Favoriten district, eventually becoming the centre's director in 1976.

During the early 1990s, Austria's youth welfare office began to send increasing numbers of foreign youths to Zohmanngasse, many of whom had been turned away from other centres.  Bock realized these young people were in dire need of help and began to assist them with legal advice, housing and counseling.

In 1999, the Zohmanngasse hostel was raided by police. Thirty young Africans were arrested for drug trafficking, along with Bock herself, who was accused of banditry and trafficking.  The charges against her were eventually dropped, although she was subsequently banned from accommodating Africans at the hostel.

Bock then began to organize and supervise the establishment of private residential communities, which she funded with her own money.  Since retiring in 2000 she's devoted herself entirely to her refugee projects.

Currently her accommodation centres house over 350 asylum seekers.  Bock also provides counseling services, legal advice and a mailing address for a further 1000 refugees.

These services are funded by donations and fundraising events – including concerts, festivals and even a campaign known as Bock auf Bier, in which the price of beer was increased and the extra revenue raised was passed on to Bock.

Bock is the recipient of multiple awards, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Refugee Award in 2000, the Bruno Kreisky Award in 2002 and the International Human Award in 2003.

Last year, President Heinz Fischer presented Bock with the Golden Order of Merit of the Republic of Austria.

She's also been the subject of two movies: the documentary, Bock for President (2009) and The Crazy World of Ute Bock (2010).

In mid-December 2013, Bock suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.  Since May however, she's been back at work on her latest housing project.

For more information about how to help Ute Bock, see http://www.fraubock.at/home/

Staff reporter (news@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Armed youths attack Tyrol refugee centre
The Bürglkopf centre. Photo: APA/EXPA/JFK

Armed youths attack Tyrol refugee centre

Police in Tyrol are investigating an attack on the Bürglkopf refugee centre near the market town of Fieberbrunn on Wednesday evening. READ  

Austrian MPs visit Syrian refugees
Yazidi families occupy tents in a new refugee camp near the Turkish-Iraqi border town of Zakho, Iraq. Photo: APA (epa)

Austrian MPs visit Syrian refugees

Several Austrian parliamentarians paid a flying visit to the overflowing refugee camps at the border between Turkey and Syria this week. READ  

Protesters dump Hypo city in front of parliament
Photo: Ajit Niranjan

Protesters dump Hypo city in front of parliament

The organisers of the Hypotopia model-city project staged a protest march on Thursday from a central square in Vienna to the national parliament building - carrying the weighty concrete blocks of their project with them. READ  

Majority of Austrian women support abortion
Abortion is no longer taboo in Austria. Photo: APA (Pfarrhofer)

Majority of Austrian women support abortion

A new survey of 1,000 Austrians shows that nearly three quarters agree that public hospitals in all Austrian provinces should be permitted to perform abortions. READ  

Austrian restitution case 'flawed'
Vienna's High Court. Photo: APA

Austrian restitution case 'flawed'

The lawyer for a Viennese Jewish author found guilty of defrauding the government over property confiscated by the Nazis has requested that the case be reheard. READ  

Switzerland sex slave seeks asylum in Austria
File photo: APA

Switzerland sex slave seeks asylum in Austria

A 19-year-old woman from Kosovo who was forced into prostitution and kept as a sex slave in a cellar in Switzerland for almost three years has sought asylum in Austria. READ  

Disabled woman 'sold drugs from bed'
Police evidence image of the weapons and drugs. Photo: APA/ROLAND SCHLAGER

Disabled woman 'sold drugs from bed'

After years of investigation Vienna state police and Europe’s crime fighting agency Europol say they have succeeded in smashing an international drug trafficking ring. READ  

Kazakh banker to face 'double murder charge'
Rakhat Aliyev was sentenced to 40 years' jail in Kazakhstan, but remains in Austria. Photo: Wikimedia/Mikhail Evstafiev

Kazakh banker to face 'double murder charge'

Kazakhstan's former ambassador to Austria is about to face charges of double murder, according to a report on national broadcaster ORF on Friday, which quoted a leaked 14-page opinion by prosecutor Bettina Wallner. READ  

Alaba scores Sportsman of the Year award again
David Alaba. Photo: APA (Archiv/Pfarrhofer)

Alaba scores Sportsman of the Year award again

FC Bayern Munich star David Alaba was voted Austria's Sportsman of the Year for the second year running on Thursday evening. READ  

Cross-dressing singer to perform for UN head
Photo: courtesy Conchita Wurst

Cross-dressing singer to perform for UN head

The Austrian winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest will perform live at the Vienna International Centre in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, during the Secretary-General's visit to the United Nations in Vienna. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Funeral museum rises from the dead for Halloween
Business & Money
Advertising value with The Local
Culture
The Lowdown on Austria's goose eating season
Society
Left behind in 1939 - a tale of loss
Travel & Tourism
Ten things to never say to an Austrian
Gallery
Austrian regions: The best and the worst
Travel & Tourism
Europe's top six ski hotels features Austria
National
Protest in concrete: Vienna's €19 billion 'Hypotopia' city
Tech
Editorial: Google Plus
Travel & Tourism
Vienna in Lonely Planet's top ten city destinations for 2015
International
Finding your favourite home foods in Austria
Gallery
Photo of the Week: Austrian Jagdkommando and his dog
Culture
Vienna Philharmonic receives major music prize
Gallery
What kind of Austria expat are you?
Health
Doctors launch campaign to challenge smoker's paradise
Culture
Happy Birthday, Udo Jürgens
Culture
Test your German skills with the odd word out quiz
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
National
Graz designer creates Dirndl and Lederhosen with a twist
Health
Sigmund Freud: 75 years after his death
Society
Coming home after 75 years with the Jewish Welcome Service
Health
Austrians can't stop smoking
Culture
Why Austria wants a divorce from Germany
Features
'A love of learning was vital'
National
The Vienna solar power plant that is also a nature reserve
National
Vienna exhibition on 50 years of Turkish guest workers
Politics
The unpopular finance minister defeated by tax reform
Features
'Suddenly you're just trying to get a sentence out'
Health
Key to happiness is 'making the right choices'
National
The Austrian office with a climbing wall and swimming pool
National
Six top tips to get a job in Austria
National
Danielle Spera on the mission of the Jewish Museum Vienna
National
Why Vienna is a 'hub for European jihadists'
Gallery
Horses rescued from burning barn
National
Why beggars are a problem for Vienna's street paper Augustin
Culture
'No one speak English to him!'
National
The grassroots group working to unite Muslims and Jews
Society
Pink Lake festival attracts LGBT visitors
Gallery
Weirdest spa treatments: Fancy a session of full-body cryotherapy?
Society
The question of begging in Austria
National
Naked cyclist faces charges and told to wear clothes
International
Cop surrounded; busts a few moves
Society
Church porn star faces charges
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

242
jobs available