• 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

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
Police launch mass raids against jihad recruiters
Photo: APA

Police launch mass raids against jihad recruiters

Update: Austrian police raided homes, prayer rooms and mosques around the country early on Friday in a mass operation targeting suspected jihad recruiters, the Austrian Press Agency reported, citing police sources. READ  

Climate change endangers alpine villages
Photo: Skigymnasium Stams

Climate change endangers alpine villages

With temperatures rising faster in the Alps than the rest of the world, alpine countries are working together to adapt to climate change and hope to set an example. READ  

Shoah survivors' family return to Vienna
Paula Arnold (front row, 3rd from right) at the Chajes Gymnasium in Vienna, 1931. Photo: Dan Arnold

Shoah survivors' family return to Vienna

Daphna Amit (a translator) and her brother Dan Arnold (a tour guide) grew up speaking German in Binyamina, Israel. Their grandmother was Paula Arnold, an essayist, journalist and translator from Vienna, born in 1885. READ  

'Pirate' councillor found with safe full of drugs
Alexander Ofer. Photo: APA/Parigger

'Pirate' councillor found with safe full of drugs

An Innsbruck local councillor from the Austrian Pirate Party is being investigated on suspicion of drug trafficking after police raided his apartment and found 2.7 kg of cannabis stored in a safe. READ  

Pensioner scammed with fake dollar bills
Photo: APA/dpa

Pensioner scammed with fake dollar bills

An 82-year-old woman from Villach was tricked into giving a couple €900, after they said they needed to pay for urgent hospital treatment. As ‘security’ they left her with a handbag full of US dollars - which turned out to be photocopies. READ  

Facebook 'Rooms' now available in Austria
Photo: Facebook Rooms (rooms.me)

Facebook 'Rooms' now available in Austria

Facebook announced Tuesday that it has made its anonymous chat app called Rooms available in Austria and Germany, currently only available for the iPhone and iPad. READ  

Cold front from Russia 'to bring snow'
Photo: APA/Schlager

Cold front from Russia 'to bring snow'

A combination of extremely damp weather blowing in from Italy and very cold air from Russia means snow is expected across Austria on Monday - with even a sprinkling of snowflakes forecast for Vienna. READ  

Vienna holds first 'queer bus tour'
Cafe Savoy - a popular hangout for Vienna's gay and lesbian community. Photo: inyourpocket

Vienna holds first 'queer bus tour'

Vienna Chamber of Commerce's “diversity night” featured bus tours showing off the city’s multicultural hotspots and thriving gay and lesbian businesses on Wednesday evening. READ  

Vienna activists call for Mandela Square
A view of the Museumsplatz. Photo: Gugerell

Vienna activists call for Mandela Square

South African activists are calling for the Museumsplatz in Vienna’s 7th district to be renamed Nelson-Mandela-Platz, ahead of the first anniversary of the former South African president’s death on December 5th. READ  

Museum seeks moon rock crowd funding
Meteorite researcher and museum curator Ludovic Ferrière. Photo: CEN/NHM Wien, Kurt Kracher

Museum seeks moon rock crowd funding

The Natural History Museum in Vienna has turned to crowdfunding to buy a lunar meteorite with the idea that everyone can own a little bit of the moon. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Holocaust survivors' family retrace grandparents' steps in Vienna
International
An alpine village welcomes asylum seekers
Culture
Painting is a journey of discovery for Russian artist in Vienna
Gallery
Top 10 mistakes Austrians make in English
Culture
Guide to Austrian coffee
Gallery
Ten of the most delicious Austrian desserts you shouldn't miss
Features
No picnic with Italian bears
Features
Building a new life in Austria
National
12 etiquette tips to help you make friends in Austria
Features
The Austrian ski school churning out champions
Features
Expat life: Learning German and making music in Vienna
Society
Radical Islam in Austria is active and growing
National
The Austrian female priest who is defying Catholicism
Gallery
Top ten photo winners from the World Bodypainting Festival
Culture
Austria celebrates a film icon and brilliant inventor
Features
Why Austrians believe they are at the centre of a new Europe
National
Ideas for where to source unique children's gifts in Vienna
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
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

257
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply