Never Afraid to Challenge: Why Pride is the Essence of Community Powered Civic Action

Saturday (16th June) marked Edinburgh’s celebration of Pride.

Thousands of LGBTQ+ people and their allies marched from Holyrood, up the Royal Mile, over George IV Bridge and out on to Bristo Square dressed to impress, wearing glitter and smiles. Although Pride has become synonymous with glitter and rainbows, there is a deeper meaning to why people march and where Pride started. In the sea of rainbow flags and happy faces, people held up signs that read: ‘Trans Rights now’, ‘Support Trans Women of Colour’ and calls to have rights recognised and respected for all people no matter their ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

Pride started as a deeply political act of civil unrest against the systematic oppression of LGBT people. It has continued through to the present day, not only as a celebration of how far things have come, but also as a reminder that more work needs to be done for LGBTQI+ people to feel fully included in their communities and have their rights respected.

Tackling Inequality

EVOC has been campaigning for social justice and tackling inequality for 150 years, and although these efforts have been centred on issues like sanitation, housing conditions and health and social care – the ethos behind these campaigns is the same. That we must work together to make our environments and our communities a better place, for everyone.

Halfway up the Royal Mile, speeches were heard. They too focused on Pride as a celebration, but also on Pride as political, as an opportunity to take the time to be reminded of how far there is to go.

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, delivered his speech and commented that “Scotland was one of the worst places to be LGBT, but is now one of the best. Homosexuality (between men) was only decriminalised in Scotland in 1980, and the first Pride march was held in 1995.

After the crowd cheered, he reminded listeners of the gains still to be made for marginalised groups and joined the crowd in chants of ‘Trans Rights Now’, promising to work to push through legislation that would protect the rights of transgender people in the Scottish Parliament.

Intergenerational Learning

As well as political figures, the Third Sector was also represented which of course has been at the centre of fighting for equality in the city for generations.

Tim Puntis of LGBT Age, a project that supports older LGBT people, gave an impassioned speech, outlining the issues of invisibility that this group face, whether that’s isolation or having to hide who they are to access essential care services.

He urged the younger generation to thank their elders in the community for their hard work and relentless pushes for progress, tolerance and acceptance paving the road for gains that once seemed unimaginable. He spoke about a spirit of intergenerational learning, and carrying on the fight for equality.

EVOC’s 150th Anniversary year, will not only be about uncovering the heritage of social justice but also be about inspiring young people to take action and to challenge the status quo for the betterment of their communities. We will do this through an exciting programme of events and activities that will include people from all sections of society and exploring how we can learn from the history of our city’s third sector.

From civil disobedience, to protest, to celebration Pride embodies the essence of fighting for social justice through civic action, and this year’s event in Edinburgh was prudent to look to the past to inform what still needs to be achieved.

To keep updated on what we are doing during our 150th Anniversary year, follow us on Twitter @evoc_edinburgh, and use the #EVOC150 hashtag

The EVOC 150 project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with thanks to players of the National Lottery.

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EVOC lends support to campaign for statue of Elsie Inglis

Edinburgh Voluntary Organistions’ Council (EVOC) is delighted to publicly announce its support for the campaign to erect a statue of medical pioneer Dr Elsie Inglis.

As part of events and activities to mark its 150th Anniversary, EVOC has been simultaneously uncovering its own heritage and the history of the campaigns for social welfare in Edinburgh.
Through this research, connections to Dr Elsie Inglis have been rediscovered and celebrated.

Joan Fraser, EVOC Convener, said: “Elsie Inglis made an enormous contribution to the city of Edinburgh. Her work in establishing hospitals and improving the medical care of women is well known. However, perhaps less well known is her work with the charity sector in Edinburgh. She was a member of the governing council, Edinburgh Charity Organisation Society (ECOS) for almost ten years.

“On behalf of ECOS she organised lectures for health visitors and for mothers with the aim of reducing infant mortality in the city. ECOS exists today as the Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council and this year we are celebrating 150 years of campaigning for social justice, fighting poverty and supporting the Third Sector in Edinburgh.

“In our 150th year we are delighted to support the campaign for a commemorative statue in honour of Elsie Inglis’ life and work.”

EVOC will lend its support to the campaign launched by The OneCity Trust and Edinburgh Evening News to honour one of Edinburgh’s most prominent war heroes and address the imbalance of women commemorated in sculpture on the streets of the city.

Dr Inglis set up female run hospitals during WW1 for allied soldiers throughout Europe and was the first woman to be awarded the Order of the White Eagle by the Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia.

In addition to her work in the medical profession, Elsie Inglis was also instrumental in the women’s suffrage movement which marks its centenary this year.

Tweet us at @evoc_edinburgh to show your support, using the hashtag #StatueForElsie

To donate to the campaign for a statue of Elsie Inglis click here.

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EVOC's updated Privacy Statement

EVOC as an organisation has a responsibility to protect and respect your privacy and to look after data provided to us.

In compliance with the GDPR, EVOC has updated its privacy policy. The new privacy notice is available by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.

This privacy notice explains what data we collect, how we use that data, where we store the information, how long we store that data for and how we store your details securely.

EVOC may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. The last updated date will be displayed at the bottom of this page.

– What information is being collected?
– Who is collecting it
– What data we collect
– How we use that data
– Where we store your information
– How long we store the data
– How we store your information securely
– External web links
– Requesting Personal Data Records
– Your right to make a complaint
– Contact details

EVOC Privacy Policy 22nd May 2018

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Media Education interview activists and campaigners for EVOC 150

This year marks the EVOC's 150th Anniversary, and to celebrate we are delivering an exciting programme of events and activities that will allow people to uncover the intertwined history of the organisation, the third sector and social welfare in Edinburgh.

As part of this programme, EVOC is working with Media Education to produce a documentary film about the organisation's history and its role in the fight for social justice. In the spirit of learning from the past to inform the future, a youth media team will gather stories and experiences from stalwart campaigners, volunteers, activities and charity workers.

This is now in full swing and Media Education has captured the experiences and knowledge of three prominent Edinburgh third sector figures: Shulah Allan, Trishna Singh OBE and Paul Wilson.

These insightful interviews were filmed at EVOC's 150th Anniversary celebration, held at the Scottish Parliament in April.

Shulah Allan MBE, Former Director of EVOC

EVOC 150 Event at the Scottish Parliament - Shulah Allan from Media Education on Vimeo.

Trishna Singh OBE, Director of Sikh Sanjog

EVOC 150 Event at the Scottish Parliament - Trishna Singh from Media Education on Vimeo.

Paul Wilson, Chief Officer at Volunteer Edinburgh

EVOC 150 Event at the Scottish Parliament - Paul Wilson from Media Education on Vimeo.

We believe that uncovering a collective history of EVOC and Edinburgh's third sector is of paramount importance in securing the future of civic action. As such, we would love for you to share your memories to our 'Memory Box'.


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Commemorating 150 years of supporting the third sector

This year marks the date that EVOC has been campaigning for social justice and supporting the third sector in Edinburgh for 150 years.

We’ve been busy planning an exciting programme of activities and events to commemorate this milestone which have included a fantastic history of EVOC written by our Convener, Joan Fraser, launching our ‘Memory Box’ project and even hosting a reception at the Scottish Parliament.

As part of uncovering the organisation’s rich and unique heritage, we also produced an exhibition which was shown at the Parliament, which is a visual representation and timeline of the history of the third sector and EVOC in Edinburgh.

Invitation to the local community

To coincide with May as Local and Community History month, we are delighted to invite members of the public, volunteers and organisations to a lunchtime viewing of this exhibition here at EVOC.

If you would like to attend, please arrive on Friday 18th May between 12noon and 2:30pm cake and coffee will be provided. We are located on 1st floor, 14 Ashley Place, Edinburgh, EH6 5PX

To find out more about what we are doing to mark our 150th Anniversary, visit the website here. 

Why not tweet @evoc_edinburgh, using the hashtag #EVOC150

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Thank You for Celebrating With Us


Yesterday evening, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council welcomed guests to celebrate its 150th Anniversary with a reception at the Scottish Parliament.
Event sponsor Ben Macpherson MSP welcomed attendees to the event and spoke about the importance of the third sector in improving the lives of people in Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s communities. He also explored a personal connection to EVOC and Edinburgh's third sector as a former pupil of the Flora Stevenson school, named after the woman who did so much to improve education in the city.

Speeches were also heard from EVOC Convener Joan Fraser, EVOC Chief Executive Ella Simpson and Diarmaid Lawlor from Architecture and Design Scotland. A wide variety of guests were in attendance and represented Edinburgh’s public, private and voluntary sector organisations, very much in the spirit of the collaborative nature of the EVOC’s founders.

Marking our 150th Birthday

The event marks the beginning of a year of activity to uncover the unique heritage of EVOC and how it, and the voluntary sector of Edinburgh responded to the needs of its citizens. As part of EVOC 150, the organisation will pay tribute to the extraordinary people that have been involved throughout its history and look to the future of civic action in Edinburgh.

As part of this, EVOC 150 will incorporate the 'Memory Box' project with aims to recognise the involvement of citizens and organisations in the campaigns it has supported throughout the years by encouraging people to share their memories and stories. 

Looking to the future

The future of civic action and intergenerational learning are as important as the organisation's rich past and as such, Media Education Scotland were in attendance at the event to collect experiences and interviews from established activists and campaigners.

EVOC is working in conjunction with Media Education Scotland and it's youth media team to inspire young people to become ambassadors for social justice.

Ella Simpson, EVOC Chief Executive, said: "We will be working with young people because they will be the policy makers in the next 100 and 150 years, and we will be working to explore what civil action and social justice means to them"

Exciting Announcements

EVOC Chief Executive, Ella Simpson had the pleasure of announcing to those in attendance that the Heritage Lottery Fund will be supporting the EVOC 150 project with a grant of nearly £69,000.

The fund will go towards helping EVOC deliver a programme of events and projects to uncover the organisation’s own unique heritage and the history of the third sector in Edinburgh.

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Never afraid to challenge – 150 years of EVOC is a great project as it shows clearly how local heritage can be a catalyst for lots of different activities and bring people together behind a common purpose. HLF is pleased to support Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council in its plans to recruit volunteers of all ages, offer skills training and, thanks to National Lottery players, enable people to enjoy the history on their own doorstep.”

EVOC would like to thank all in attendance for joining us in marking this auspicious occasion.


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EVOC reaches its 150th anniversary

Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations' Council (EVOC) reaches its 150th anniversary this year and is marking the occasion with a number of exciting research projects and events.

EVOC was formed in 1868 and started life as an organisation formed by eminent physicians, academics, benefactors and reformers dedicated to addressing health and social issues in the city. Since then it has been working to support, develop and promote the interests and work of voluntary and community organisations in Edinburgh.

EVOC will mark its 150th anniversary by conducting research about its own heritage and how it, and the voluntary sector of Edinburgh, has responded to the needs of its citizens. EVOC 150 will pay tribute to the extraordinary people that have been involved with the organisation over the years and collect stories and memories from the dedicated people working and volunteering today.

Memory Box

As part of this, EVOC has launched the Memory Box project which aims to recognise the collaboration and involvement of citizens and organisations in the campaigns that it has supported throughout the years. We are looking to uncover the voices of people who were involved in protesting on social issues such as fighting to save the public laundries or campaigning to improve mental health and transport services by inviting them to share their story with us.

Tenants Road Show BusLothian Community Transport Services

Intergenerational Engagement

As well as uncovering EVOC's and Edinburgh's third sector heritage through the Memory Box project, EVOC 150 will launch projects that seek to work intergenerationally to learn from the past to inform the future.

Working with Media Education, EVOC will produce a documentary film about the organisation's 150 year history and its role in the fight for social justice. As part of this, a group of young people will be selected to form the youth media team who will gather stories and experiences from experienced campaigners, volunteers and charity workers. It is hoped that this interaction will inspire these young people and those around them to get involved with the third sector and discover civic action. 

Parliamentary reception 

In addition to building up a picture of the third sector in Edinburgh over the last 150 years, EVOC will be celebrating this anniversary with an event to be held at the Scottish Parliament on 19th April. Sponsored by Ben Macpherson, the evening will be a chance for individuals and organisations to learn about the organisation’s history and collaborative transformation of social welfare in the city of Edinburgh.

For more information on EVOC 150 please contact:


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