London, 21 February 2013
Three finalists competing for the £50,000 Ockenden International Prize presented their projects to a panel of expert judges, led by broadcaster Michael Buerk, on 19 February at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, where the charity’s founder the late Joyce Pearce OBE began her career of service to refugees and displaced people worldwide.
The judges were looking in particular for evidence of increased self-reliance in the communities supported as this is the central ethos of the Prize which recognises and rewards work that has improved the lives of refugees and displaced people in Africa, the Middle East or Asia.
In this, the inaugural year, the Prize was awarded to India’s Centre for Development (CfD) partnering with UK charity Childreach International for their Piplaj Advocacy Project to empower a deeply impoverished community in Ahmedabad, Gujarat to campaign for better living conditions, education and healthcare.
During a round table discussion moderated by Michael Buerk, CfD Programme Consultant Prasad Chacko explained how the project had overcome obstructions faced by citizens living in extremely difficult conditions and helped communities oppressed for centuries to take leadership. He summed up the project’s impact by saying it had “put the smiles back on the faces of the children”.
Trophies and a cheque for £50,000 were presented to the winners by Ockenden International’s longest serving trustee Stephen Cooke.
CfD plan to use the prize money to replicate their achievements in other slums in Ahmedabad, as well as to track vulnerable child beggars and labourers and record information in a database to strengthen further advocacy efforts. They will also use it to continue their education and life skills training for the most vulnerable children.
The two runners up were:
- HelpAge International for their project to support older people, who have suffered years of upheaval, violence and loss, in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, to identify their needs and take action to improve their lives.
- Womankind Worldwide partnering with The Women’s Legal Aid Centre for the For Women We Stand project, the first of its kind in western Tanzania, to promote and protect the rights of refugee women and girls.
Chaired by Michael Buerk, the judging panel included Dr Dawn Chatty – Director of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, Dr Jeff Crisp – Head of Policy Development and Evaluation Services, UNHCR, Dr Kirsten McConnachie – Research Fellow, and Mohammed Suleman, Managing Director of Barrow & Gale.
During an evening awards ceremony, which included presentations from all three finalists, Dr Kirsten McConnachie reported on behalf of the judging panel that all the projects had been “compelling” and the winner was chosen because of particularly wide community involvement and strong outcomes. She complimented HelpAge for their work to support older people “in such a neglected area and in a difficult and challenging environment” and the Women’s Legal Aid Centre for taking on challenges in the area of sexual and gender based violence that are “difficult and hard to resolve” and for the long term value of their project.
At the close of the awards ceremony Trustee Stephen Claypole thanked Lady Margaret Hall for invaluable support as host of both the judging session and the ceremony. He concluded by announcing that the Ockenden International Prize for projects which improve the lives of refugees and displaced people in Africa, the Middle East or Asia would continue in 2013 and that the scheme would be extended to recognise inspirational work in the UK.
The Ockenden International Prize will be open for applications from May 2013.
More information can be found at www.ockenden.org.uk
Note for editors
Ockenden International’s roots lie in the work of three British schoolteachers, led by Joyce Pearce, who created the Ockenden Venture in 1951. Their aim was to receive in Britain young East Europeans from homeless persons’ camps in Germany and to provide for their maintenance, education and welfare. This work later extended to projects in India, north Africa and south-east Asia. The venture’s expertise and skills in helping people help themselves was so well recognised by 1979 that the British government asked Ockenden to be one of the three charities tasked with helping Vietnamese ‘boat people’ resettle in the United Kingdom.
After the death in 1985 of Joyce Pearce, the driving visionary of the organisation, the charity took stock of its work and by 1999, as Ockenden International, had concentrated nearly all its work overseas. In 2007 the trustees decided that continuing to be an operational charity was no longer sustainable and that it could work more effectively by becoming a grant-maker and promoting awareness of the challenges facing refugees and displaced people.
Contact for media queries:
Stephen Claypole, Trustee, Ockenden International
SClaypole@dma-media.com | + 44 (0) 208 563 1718