EVOC 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


Firelighter Factory set up at 14 Leith Walk


47,511 free breakfasts server and 8,495 starving children fed


Sewing Factory set up in the Grassmarket


Childrens Council

A Children’s Council set up together with Scottish National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Destitute Sick Society and the Sunday Free Breakfast


The Help

In 1893 the Association adopted the title of “The Help” as a shorter alternative to its formal name and perhaps also to convey more of a sense of the practical methods that they were using to relieve poverty. That name continued in use for about 20 years.


The First Edition of the Red Book is published

The first edition of the Red Book was a directory of practical information about charitable organisations for “Ministers, Missionaries, District Visitors and others who are engaged in philanthropic work or are interested in cases of suffering and distress”


The Edinburgh Charity Organisation Society

The Edinburgh Association had always had a distinctive and, for the time, compassionate approach to assisting the poor. It had devised practical solutions and was not over burdened with philosophising. But at the turn of the Century it became involved with the London based Charity Organisation Society movement and by 1906, the Association had changed its name to the Edinburgh Charity Organisation Society (ECOS). This…


Health Visiting

Among the many practical schemes that ECOS introduced was the role of Voluntary Health Visitors in an effort to reduce the high levels of infant mortality. ECOS started this around 1907. In 1908 the Town Council appointed an official “Lady Health Visitor” and ECOS set about recruiting more voluntary health visitors to operate under her supervision. The Town Council then adopted the voluntary health visitors…


New Sub committee

A sub committee set up from which grew the Voluntary Health Visitor Movement and the development of playschemes


A series of seminars on “Social Reforms”, “The Poor Law”, “Co-operation between public and private agencies”


School of Social Study and Training

Edinburgh University opened its School of Social Study and Training to provide training, both academic and practical for the early social workers. The C.O.S. movement had laid the foundation stones for social work through its record keeping and sharing of practice and techniques. This, with its focus on the family, and upon a scientific approach, provided the basis for the development of social work as…


Edinburgh Council of Social Service is formed

In 1919, the organisation changed its name again – this time to the Edinburgh Council of Social Services.  The title “Charity Organisation Society” had become unpopular and it was felt that Edinburgh Council of Social Services was a better description of the emphasis of the organisation on relieving poverty and distress. The district based visiting approach continued and supported a range of family casework. ECSS…


Centre for the “mentally handicapped” opened at the University Settlement and a mother and infant care committee set up


Edinburgh Social Survey

ECSS commissioned a Social Survey of Edinburgh which was carried out in 1926. The contributors were many and varied and included academics, medics and experts in housing, child welfare criminality and poverty. The purpose was to bring together expert knowledge of the problems facing the City and their causes, with the intention that it would influence both public policy and the priorities of ECSS itself.


Family casework service established in new estates of Prestonfield and Niddrie