Last Saturday, on 29th November, the SAMARITAN’s B.E.S.T. Awards 2014 were handed over in Gmunden, Austria. The local award went to ASB Austria’s Internetcafé ZwischenSchritt, the international award was won by the SAMETS project, headed by ANPAS, Italy. The second and third place of the international award were achieved by the flood relief activities of IDC Serbia and their partners and by an international youth exchange of 5 Samaritan partners, respectively.
The SAMARITAN’s B.E.S.T. awards were established last year to honour extraordinary projects of the European Samaritans. They consist of an international award, for cross-border projects, and a local award, that decorates a project with a high local and “hands-on” impact. The first award ceremony for the SAMARITAN’s B.E.S.T: awards took place the Samaritan Forum 2013 in Berlin. This year’s ceremony was kindly hosted by ASB Austria, and integrated into their annual St. Nicholas train event, which takes children and youths from less priviledged backgrounds on a train ride to see Santa Claus.
In his address at the award ceremony, Secretary General Christian Reuter thanked the hosts. “The St. Nicholas train is a truly wonderful event, and we are grateful that this year’s B.E.S.T. award ceremony can be part of it.” Standing in front of a crowd of almost 600 children and youths, who had arrived on the train, he added “It is also a fantastic opportunity to present the projects of the European Samaritans to an audience of young people!”
The winner of the local award was ASB Austria’s Internetcafé ZwischenSchritt, an institution that serves as a means of inclusion for homeless and formerly homeless people, allowing them to acquire digital skills, to re-built and maintain their social lifes via online communication, and to apply for jobs online. The option to volunteer as part of the managing team of the café makes up an additional inclusive factor. ZwischenSchritt also offers courses for additional target groups, in their work to bridge the digital divide in society.
The first place of the international award went to the project Social Affairs Management in the Emergency Temporary Shelter (SAMETS), which is implemented by ANPAS and the Samaritan partner organisations ASB, ASBÖ, ASSR and WK. The ongoing EU-funded project aims to improve care for groups with special needs in emergency camps, such as after an evacuation due to disaster. Previous project meetings have brought together the civil protection experts of the Samaritan organisations and experts on the particular special needs of children or the elderly and people with physical impairments. Additional work is planned on aspects of accommodating cultural diversity in emergency camps.
The second place of the international award was given to the project Emergency Response to Floods in Serbia (ERFIS), in which Serbian SAM.I. member IDC mobilized cross-border support from within and from beyond our network to better cope with the floods that devastated the Balkans earlier this year. The project partners included ASB Germany (through it’s South-East-Europe country office), ASB Austria and FARMAMUNDI, a Spanish NGO specialised in distributing medicine in humanitarian aid situations. The third place was awarded to the project “Europe = Borderless Educational Opportunities?”, which was a youth exchange with participants from ASB Hamburg, LSA, LSB, SFOP and Zene Sa Une. The young people debated issues such as remaining obstacles to truly enjoying the benefits of a borderless Europe, particularly when it comes to education.
The winner of the local award and the first placed project of the international award each received a cheque for 3.000 EUR, to help them continue the activities of their projects.The prize money for the international award was kindly donated by Union Versicherungsdienst, while the local award was sponsored by ASB Germany.
The next SAMARITAN’s B.E.S.T. award ceremony will take place in August 2015, in the context of the Samaritan Forum in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.
Videoclips of the other decorated projects can be found on our YouTube Channel.