Ute Bock
Ute Bock

I am an educator, not a policewoman or a judge. My job is to help young people get an education or to help them find a job and to support them in a way that they are capable of living a meaningful life. My belief is that every human being has the right to the same opportunities and chances. I don’t think it is wise to create a group of people who are at a disadvantage and dissatisfied. Even if they are people seeking political asylum, some of which may have to eventually return back to their home countries. I still want them to have gotten something out of being here, I want them to have learned something and to have been treated well. And then if they must go back, they should go back with the feeling that they had gotten something out of their experience here rather than, if they are mistreated, become disgruntled and have the feeling that they have gotten a raw deal and they turn into alcoholics, drug dealers, and criminals.

Ute Bock was born in 1942 in Linz. After she had graduated from school, she worked in the private sector for one year before she decided to become an educator. In 1969 she started working in the Gesellenheim Zohmanngasse in the 10th district, employed by the Gemeinde Wien; in 1976 she became head of this home. Since the early 1990’s, the youth welfare office had been sending foreign youths to Ute Bock. At first it was children of guest worker families, and later on also unaccompanied, under-aged refugees from war zones that were applying for asylum. For many years Ute Bock was the last resort for youths nobody wanted. When social workers or people caring for refugees were at their wit’s end, they sent youths to Ute Bock, because no one, no matter where they were from, was ever turned away.

In September 1999 more than 30 African teenagers and young adults were arrested in a bust in the home on account of assumed drug dealing. Ute Bock was reported for gang forming and drug dealing and was suspended. The charge against Ute Bock was dropped and she was no longer suspended, but the Gemeinde Wien forbade Ute Bock to accommodate African applicants for asylum in the home she was in charge of.

Ute Bock
Ute Bock did not have a heart to turn the young people out into the streets, so she organized private communal residences, which she financed and looked after herself in her free time. She has been given numerous awards for her social commitment, namely the UNHCR-Flüchtlingspreis (2000), the Bruno Kreisky-Preis für Menschenrechte (2002), the Dr. Karl Renner-Preis (2003), the Humanitätspreis of the Red Cross (2004), and the Spin the Globe-Award from Siemens (2004). Ute Bock was also nominated by the daily newspaper “Die Presse” in 2004 as one of five “Austrians of the Year” in the category social commitment. In 2000 an “Ute Bock-Preis für Zivilcourage” was donated by SOS Mitmensch.

Since Ute Bock retired in August 2000, she has been looking after her charges around the clock. Her small living project has now grown to about 60 apartments, where she provides more than 310 people with food and accommodation. Additionally, she has organized at least a permanent address and legal advice for several hundred applicants for asylum who do not receive any financial support from the state, but who are not allowed to work, in order that they are able to continue their cases for political asylum in Austria. Ute Bock has paid for the accommodation for homeless applicants for asylum out of her retirement fund, from her private savings, with awards money, and from donations.

To be able to care for so many refugees, she is totally dependent on support from sponsors and from donations. The costs of the living quarters and individual expenses such as university studies, German language courses or medical care add up to several thousands of euros a month. “I used to buy people tickets for public transportation, but now I wonder whether I can afford to buy myself a sandwich for lunch or not,” says Ute Bock about her present situation.

Awards given to Ute Bock:
# UNHCR-Flüchtlingspreis (2000)
# SOS Mitmensch Ute Bock-Preis für Zivilcourage (2000)
# Dr. Karl Renner-Preis der Gemeinde Wien (2002)
# Bruno Kreisky-Preis für Menschenrechte (2002)
# Spin the Globe-Award (2004)
# Preis des Österreichischen Roten Kreuzes (2004)
# Greinecker-Senioren-Preis des ORF (2004)
# Interkultur-Preis des Landes Oberösterreich (2004)

You are invited to send your donations to:
Verein Ute Bock
Hypo Bank Tirol
BLZ 57 000
Konto-Nr.: 520 110 174 99

Ute Bock

More information about Ute Bocks project ist found on her website:


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Ute Bock's refugee project