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Timeline :: Edinburgh Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor established

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The Edinburgh Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor was formed in 1868. It can be seen as a companion organisation to the Charity Organisation Society (COS), formed a year later in London, in its attempt to regulate and co-ordinate charitable work.  The Edinburgh Association divided the city into 28 districts, each with its own visitors whose task was to pursue their enquiries about the needs of families and individuals in their districts.

The Edinburgh Association was strongly influenced by the work of Thomas Chalmers, who had set up a visiting scheme in 1820 in the East End of Glasgow. Chalmers had called this an 'investigation' to discover how the ‘fountain’ (Chalmers words) of charity could flow from the ‘springs’ of relatives or neighbourhood. In 1844, he set about repeating the St John’s experiment in the West Port district in Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh Association went on to become the Edinburgh Council for Social Service (ECSS) and is today known as Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations' Council (EVOC). A 150-year history was published in 2018 and is available here (with thanks to Alan Rees).

Source:  Checkland, O. (1980) Philathropy in Victorian Scotland, Edinburgh: John Donald.