Ockenden International Prizes for Refugee Projects Surpass £1,000,000

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2024 Ockenden International Prizes

The cash Prizes, for projects proven to advance refugee self-reliance, recognise the agency, dignity and autonomy of refugees and forced migrants anywhere.

Ockenden International, renowned for its work for and with refugees for more than 70 years, has launched its 12th annual contest to find and reward the most effective self-reliance projects for refugees and/or displaced people.

The annual GBP100,000 prize money will be shared equally by four winners – to be announced by the end of March 2024 – who will each receive GBP25,000 to further their project and programme ambitions.

The chair of Ockenden International, Judith Ingham said: “The Trustees of Ockenden International are proud to have reached the GBP million milestone in prize money shared by so many innovative projects since the launch of the Prizes in 2012.

“So far 37 projects operational in 58 countries and regions have directly benefited from the prizes, which not only identify and promote best practice but enable our winners to develop their initiatives to further improve the lives of those facing some of the most challenging global issues of our times,” she said.

“Ockenden’s founders, who started by fostering 14 child refugees from war-torn Germany in 1951, would be astounded by the tens of thousands worldwide benefitting from their inspiration more than 70 years later.”

The global total of 108.4 million forcibly displaced people is up 19 million in 2022 (from 89.4 million in 2021), according to the latest United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) figures. Of the 108.4 million, 62.5 million were internally displaced, 35.3 million were refugees, asylum-seekers made up another 5.4 million while a further 5.2 million people were defined as ‘in need of international protection’.

“It is impossible,” Ms Ingham said, “to ignore the ballooning numbers of forcibly displaced people worldwide.”

 “Ockenden International knows it is doing the right thing when thousands of refugees and displaced peoples – and their communities – are benefitting from the self-reliance and independence its prize-winning projects generate,“ she added.

Submissions for the GBP25,000 prizes are sought from non-profit organisations, which can enter their own projects or alternatively nominate projects managed by non-profit partners or affiliated organisations. Projects can be led by – or have a high level of participation from – the project beneficiaries themselves.

The cash prizes recognize and reward innovative work that promotes self-reliance among refugees and/or displaced people anywhere in the world – a distinguishing feature of Ockenden International and its predecessor, Ockenden Venture, since 1951.

Prizes will be awarded to projects that promote self-reliance among refugees and/or displaced people. ‘Self-reliance’ is understood broadly and may be furthered by projects promoting education, providing legal assistance, or developing life skills and by any other programmes that help displaced people build stable, independent lives.

The entries will be judged by a panel of experts who will be looking for highly effective projects that have led to real change in people’s lives, with measurable evidence of outcomes, as explained in the Entry Rules and Judging Criteria. The three-month deadline for entries is midnight (GMT) on Thursday, November 30, 2023, with the four winners to be announced by March 31, 2024.

The Ockenden International Prizes remain focused on identifying solutions to the challenges faced by displaced people, raising awareness of their needs, and rewarding outstanding projects.

The 2023 Prize Winners

The four winning projects of 2023 came from Uganda, Mexico and Japan:

Hope Health Action East Africa (HHA EA), Uganda’s project ‘Transforming the lives of South Sudanese refugees with disabilities living in the refugee settlements and hosting communities in Uganda’ for its practical and significant mobility improvements of often-neglected refugees with disabilities – in the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in northwest Uganda, the temporary home for more than 270,000 South Sudanese refugees fleeing ongoing civil war.

Otros Dreams en Acción, Mexico for ‘A Dignified Return for the Deported and Forcibly Returned Community in Mexico’, which the judges praised for its focus on deportees forcibly displaced by the state. They also noted that the project, based in Ciudad, is run by deported people and forced returnees and commented on the practical support provided: effective help with documentation, reconnection of dislocated families and legal support for appeals to reverse deportations.

Shanti Volunteer Association, Japan for its enterprising library project ‘Assisting returnees’ integration and stable settlement through improving access to information and learning along the Thai-Myanmar Border’, one of the world’s most challenging geopolitical hotspots. The judges liked the fact that Shanti’s 15 community libraries – in seven refugee camps along the border – are self-managed by refugees.

SINA (Social Innovation Academy), Uganda nominated by Zimbabwe’s Transformation Innovation Hub (TiH) was awarded one of the coveted Prizes for a training project that’s manifestly inspiring young business entrepreneurs by implementing their principle of ‘Freesponsibility’ – combining ‘freedom’ with ‘responsibility’ – and the co-creation of ‘Self-organized Learning Spaces’.

More information about the Prizes can be found @ Entry Rules & Judging Criteria as well as previous winners and their projects.