EVOC 150 Years

Happy birthday to us. For 150 years, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council has been supporting the people of Edinburgh and been marching and protesting for their rights side-by-side with them. We’d love for you to help us celebrate this year and uncover the heritage of the third sector in Edinburgh with us.

The Past

EVOC started as the Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor in 1868 and was founded by the city’s physicians, academics and benefactors who recognised the need for action against the high levels of poverty and poor health. 150 years on, poverty, social injustice and helping vulnerable people in Edinburgh are still critical issues that need to be addressed. We want to capitalise on 150 years of momentum and use this opportunity to engage Edinburgh’s citizens with the third sector and the benefits of active citizenship.

The Present

We have a number of exciting projects and we are working in collaboration with organisations and schools to promote tackling inequality, organising, protesting and campaigning, and working together. We will also be saying thank you to the organisations and extraordinary people that lent their support to EVOC in the past. Through research into our own heritage, we rediscovered shared history with other organisations and connections to key figures for Edinburgh portrayed in our timeline.

The Future

Be involved, share your memories and spread the word to keep social justice in the hearts and minds of Edinburgh’s citizens for at least another 150 years.





  • Establishment of the Edinburgh Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor

    Under the Chairmanship of Dr Wood, the Association was established very quickly and made rapid progress with the appointment of voluntary visitors. Their role was envisaged as what we might regard today as a befriender. Visitors were to give advice on cooking, childcare and other household tasks. They were not there to evangelise (but were to encourage church attendance) or to give out money. Where…

  • The Factory

    From the beginning, there was demand for the Association to provide employment both as a labour test (to establish a man’s ability and willingness to work) and as a means of providing temporary employment for those out of work. In 1869 the Association entered into an arrangement with a local firelighter manufacturer to provide work for the "otherwise destitute". But the wages were low and…

  • Penny Banks

    The first Penny banks established, an early forerunner of Credit Unions

  • Opening of the Sewing Room

    The Association opened a Sewing Room in 1871 under the supervision of Flora Stevenson (after whom the school is named) which provided work for women for a small wage which was paid in provisions. It operated in the winter months. Until 1892, the purpose of the work was to make items for sale. But from that point, the purpose became the making and mending of…

  • Sick and Funeral Society Established

    This was established long before death benefits were thought about

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Women activists against climate change

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Out of Isolation

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