Acc NoAcc 48
TitleRecords of Voluntary Services Aberdeen (VSA)
DescriptionRecords of Voluntary Services Aberdeen and its predecessors:
VSA/1 Aberdeen Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor 1870 - 1947
VSA/2 Aberdeen Association of Social Service 1940 - 1980
VSA/30 Voluntary Service Aberdeen 2004
VSA/25 Miscellaneous 1911 - 1931

Records of organisations connected to the VSA and its predecessors:
VSA/3 Scottish National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Aberdeen branch 1912 - 1918
VSA/4 Aberdeen Children's Society 1931 - 1963
VSA/5 Aberdeen Childrens Shelter 1925 - 1963
VSA/6 Aberdeen Children's Welfare Council 1949 - 1964
VSA/7 Albury Road Home for Children/Ferryhill Children's Home 1925 - 1963
VSA/8 Aberdeen Mother and Baby Home (Richmondhill House) 1942 - 1974
VSA/9 The Aberdeen Benevolent Fund and Society for Female Domestic Servants 1853 - 1919
VSA/10 Aberdeen Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society 1924 - 1960
VSA/11 Aberdeen Central Collection Agency 1920 - 1963
VSA/12 Aberdeen Committee for the Welfare of the Disabled 1958 - 1962
VSA/13 Aberdeen Old People's Welfare Council 1950 - 1963
VSA/14 Aberdeen Old People's Housing Association 1971 - 1975
VSA/15 Aberdeen Sick Man's Friend Society 1835 - 1974
VSA/17 Scotstown Moor Childrens Camp 1905 - 1952
VSA/18 Linn Moor Home 1905 - 1973
VSA/19 St. Aubins Home 1955 - 1957
VSA/27 Victoria Model Lodging House 1954 - 1982

Records of Trusts and Funds of the VSA and its predecessors:
VSA/16 West Aberdeen Coal Fund 1835 - 1982
VSA/20 Sutherland Trust 1930 - 2003
VSA/21 Milne Trust 1879 - 1991
VSA/22 The Morrison Fund 1907 - 1960
VSA/23 The Kenn Mortification 1925 - 1945
VSA/24 George Barzallia Anderson and Mary Anderson Fund 1913 - 1960
VSA/26 Woodside Coal Fund 1840 - 1995
VSA/28 Jean and Christina Smith Fund 1957 - 2003
VSA/29 Watson Mackinnon Fund 1915 - 2003
Date1835 - 2004
CreatorVoluntary Services Aberdeen and related organisations
​Open or Restricted AccessRestricted
Access ConditionsWritten confirmation is required from VSA in order to view these records. -
38 Castle Street
AB11 5YU
Tel: 01224 212021
Fax: 01224 580722
Administrative HistoryThe Agency was inaugurated at a public meeting on 10th March, 1870 as the Aberdeen Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. Queen Victoria accepted an invitation to become Patron, and the reigning monarch has since held this position. The Lord Provost of Aberdeen holds the post of President.

On 9th May, 1935, the Association was incorporated under the Companies Act 1929 as a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital.

In 1947 the title of Agency was changed to 'Aberdeen Association of Social Service', indicating a growing concern for a wider range of social needs.

In 1979 'Voluntary Service Aberdeen' was adopted as new operational title: this was formally changed to VSA on the 1st April 2006.

In 2004 a Strategic Review of the agency begins, consulting stakeholder groups for views on the agency and how it can improve. The review is completed in 2005 and results in a new management structure introducing three Directorates for Older People Services, Children & Family Services and Adults & Community Services. Today (2020) there are four areas of work: Children & Families, Adulty & Community, Education & Learning and Carers.

The VSA have played a role in a number of other local charities:
- providing administrative services to Linn Moor, Scottish National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and to the Seabank Home for Girls in the 1910s.
- The Aberdeen Citizen's Advice Bureau was established within the Association's Castle Street offices in 1940. This branches of as an independent organisation in 1976.
- Provided administrative services to the Aberdeen and Mother and Baby Home from 1949.
- In 1973 Linn Moor and Aberdeen Children's Society merged with Aberdeen Association of Social Service, while retaining their independent identity and financial self-sufficiency.
- In 1974 Richmondhill House and Aberdeen Old People's Welfare Council merge with the Association in agreements protecting their identity and financial independence.
- In 1982 the VSA joined forces with the Victoria Model Lodging House to open a new old people's home, Millbank, and the Lodging House's older residents were transferred there.
- In 2006 the VSA's six associated charities - Aberdeen Children's Society, AgeCare Aberdeen, Easter Anguston Farm Training Centre, Linn Moor School, Richmondhill House and St Aubin's Project - lost their separate charity numbers and logos but continue their individual names as part of VSA.
The histories of these charities are detailed in the elevant sub-fonds.

Initially premises were rented in McCombie's Court. 1890 The office was transferred to 18 Adelphi and in 1899 the offices were moved to 38 Castle Street, the Parish Council Offices being purchased for £1,600. In 1935 the Association purchased and demolished the dilapidated premises at 36, 37 and 39 Castle Street, which stood in front of the Association's office. In 1968 a new extension was added to the 38 Castle Street office, and the offices were redeveloped and extended further in 1996.
The Association also operated a number of thrift shops, the first opening at 183 King Street in 1965, the second at the office at Castle Street in 1968 and a third at 82 King Street in 1970. In 1994 a children's wear Thrift Shop at 206 King Street was reopened as a second-hand bookshop.

Dr T Auld, Agency Secretary 1945 - 1973
Bill Howie, Director, - 2004
Kenneth Simpson, Chief Executive, 2004 -

- 1870 A full-time Superintendent was appointed. Over 500 visitors were recruited, each being allocated ten to twelve families within Aberdeen (divided into '14 sections'), so that the giving of grant aid could be discriminate and within the context of a supportive relationship. An industrial register was drawn up, helping men and women to find employment. Two workshops were opened to aid unemployed men; one involved breaking metal, the other (in Spring Garden) making firelighters (the latter moved to larger premises in Rogers Walk in 1887). On average 30 to 40 men were employed in each workshop.
- In the 1870s cards were issued to the public to pass on to strangers begging round the doors, directing them to the Association's office. Annual approaches were made to the City fathers to reduce the number of licensed premises in Aberdeen: this fell from one licensed premise for every 157 inhabitants in 1871 to one per 495 in 1903.
- 1871 A day nursery for under fives was established in East North Street to prevent neglect; operated from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm while mothers worked at cleaning or washing jobs.
- In 1875 the Flower Mission was established; a visiting service to the sick in hospital or in the community, with flowers collected and distributed; the development of caring relationships had a central place in this.
- In the 1880s Penny banks established in various 'sections' of Aberdeen to encourage the habit of saving; administered by the Association until 1895, when taken over by Aberdeen Savings Bank. Central list of beneficiaries was established to help overcome duplication/overlapping among charitable trusts (some £30,000 being distributed annually by funds to 8,000 people). Aberdeen Public Soup Kitchen regularly supplied large stocks of meal tickets to the Association for distribution.
- 1883 A 'Handbook of the Charities of Aberdeen' was compiled, and published annually as part of the Aberdeen Almanac.
- 1884 A house was rented for women on their discharge from prison, providing temporary accommodation and support until permanent arrangements were made.
- 1895 The workshop moved again to 15-21 Princes Street, where a day nursery was also run until 1902.
- 1899 The offices were moved to 38 Castle Street, the Parish Council Offices being purchased for £1,600.
- 1904 150 new voluntary visitors were recruited in a revitalisation of the system of section visitors.
- Premises were rented for a short period in the Gallowgate, in conjunction with the Aberdeen Union of Women Workers, following the closure of Bannermill, with the loss of 400 jobs. Girls were encouraged to use this as their headquarters (crafts and meals provided) until permanent employment found.
- 1908 The Old Age Pensions Act 1908 has little effect on the Association, only 3% of its 1,871 clients that year being over 70 years. A much broader attitude to aid giving is evident in the light of new social awareness of the economic causes of poverty. 'Only 24 applicants were refused help that year.'
- 1910 A central register of beneficiaries was re-established following a meeting of representatives of 24 trusts (39 having been invited).
- 1911 National Insurance Act 1911 led to a fall in the number of applications to the Association by 400. The 'great and continuous emigration' of men moving south in search of employment, is noted.
- 1918 New problems emerged during the First World War, though fewer calls for assistance (due to less unemployment). The Association undertook the care of 35 neglected children in one year, boarding them at Linn Moor and meeting the expenses involved.
- 1922 Applications soared from 990 the previous year to 8,216, due to colossal unemployment - Bairns Boot and Clothing Fund was inaugurated and integrated into the Association's work: up to 100 requests per week for help from this fund. A shoemaker was employed over winter periods to repair footwear.
- 1926 A record number of calls for help on the Association in this year of the General Strike.
- 1928 Increasing focus on the needs of the elderly, particularly during the 'cold fist' of winter; 210 bags of coal delivered to elderly, sick persons.
- 1929 'Lady Provost's Willing Shilling Fund' was established, with money raised through the Evening Express. The Association helped to co-ordinate arrangements which resulted in 3,000 elderly persons receiving a parcel of groceries and 8,000 children being entertained in some way. In this and the subsequent year, applications for assistance exceeded 8,500, due to the general depression.
- 1940s Much work was done during the war years on behalf of Army and Navy Benevolent Funds, investigating family circumstances; and in assisting with the inflow of refugees from occupied countries.
- 1946 First trained social worker appointed, bringing objective professional principles to agencies dealing with those in need.
- 1947 Practical placements offered to social work students for the first time. Association convened meeting to discuss setting up of Marriage Guidance Council in Aberdeen and undertakes ongoing administrative support.
- 1948 Steps were taken to initiate the Aberdeen and North-East Association for Mental Health.
- 1962 Involved in national discussions leading to the formation of the Scottish Association of Voluntary Child Care Organisations (SAVCCO, now the Scottish Child and Family Alliance).
- 1963 Appointment of Field Officer (later styled Development Officer), with major responsibility for recruitment, training and deployment of volunteers.
- 1963 The Association is registered as an Adoption Society, offering this service in conjunction with the work of Aberdeen Mother and Baby Home at Richmondhill House. By the end of the decade, twenty babies per year are being placed for adoption throughout the North of Scotland and Islands. IN 1973 the Adoption Society joined the Adoption Resource Exchange. In 1985 Adoption Society phased out.
- 1965: A booklet 'Some Opportunities for Voluntary Service in Aberdeen' was produced.; A pre-school playgroup established in Mastrick Community Centre.
- 1966: The Association participated in moves to establish a Social Studies Course at Aberdeen University. A full-time Training Supervisor is appointed, with a second such appointment in 1970, these being funded by the Scottish Office.
- 1967 Association undertook organisation of outings for elderly and disabled persons in the Winlaw Car. In the following year, the Christopher Car was purchased and came into operation.
- 1967: Holiday play centres, primarily for children of single parent families, were introduced.
- 1968: The Association launched a Comprehensive Service for Unmarried Parents. A Community Service Volunteer was deployed (annually, for several years) encouraging community action by young people.
- 1969: A nursery for children of single mothers was established in St Katherine's Centre. Helped to create 'Voluntary Social Work - North East' aiming at integrated action by the voluntary sector in partnership with statutory departments.
- 1970 The Association, in conjunction with Richmondhill House and the Children's Society, brings about the formation of Castlehill Housing Association, primarily to provide accommodation for single parent families. Pre-school playgroup for 20 children established in Society of Friends premises in Crown Street. A short history of the agency was published.
- 1970: Centenary. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Association's Patron, paid visit to the Association's offices and the Children's Shelter on 7th October, as part of the Centenary celebrations. On 10th March (precise centenary), the City of Aberdeen held a Civic Reception in the Beach Ballroom for over 800 members, staff and volunteers.
- 1971 The opening of 6 flats for single mothers in Dee Street, the first project of Castlehill Housing Association.
- 1972 Inauguration of Easter Anguston Farm Training Scheme for mentally handicapped young people. A summer PHAB Course (for physically handicapped and able-bodied young people) was organised for over 50 people at Linn Moor.
- 1973 Neighbourhood Community Worker appointed for first time. First Christmas sheltered shopping evening arranged for elderly and disabled persons.
- 1974 Premises in Gallowgate acquired for furniture Thrift Shop.
- 1976 Richmondhill and Ruthrie Courts constructed: sheltered housing schemes with 47 flats. Community Work resource unit established. New day centre for elderly set up in conjunction with Social Work Department. Evening Express mounts appeal for a centre minibus. Crichton House constructed at Easter Anguston.
- 1977 Easter Anguston is adopted as local charity for the Queen's Silver Jubilee Appeal. Day centre for elderly in St Katherine's closed.
- 1978 A Youth Opportunities Programme is sponsored: temporary employment for 12 youngsters in conjunction with Social Work Department.
- 1980 Co-ordinated the resettlement of 12 refugee Vietnamese families in Aberdeen. Voluntary Organisations Centre established at 38 Castle Street, aiming to provide practical resources to the voluntary sector.
- 1982 Deemount House and Millbank House were opened, new supported accommodation units for elderly people. Solvent Abuse Project launched for 3-year period.
- 1983 Aberdeen Volunteer Bureau established. Voluntary Service Aberdeen becomes a Managing Agency for Manpower Services Commission Community Programme.
- 1986 Ruthrieston House, new 30-bed unit for elderly persons, constructed at cost of nearly £1 million. Pilot Home Care project launched. 2 houses leased to provide suitable accommodation for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems. Integrated Playgroup, Toy Library and Family Support Project developed.
- 1989 Development Officer for Carers appointed to help identify carers in the community and open up channels of communication between them and statutory and voluntary organisations to help meet their needs more effectively.
- 1990 Saturday Fun Club set up to enable children with special needs to meet and play in a safe environment and let carers enjoy a short break. Carers Resource Book published, a valuable reference guide for carers on services and support groups. Support given to establishment of Grampian Forum of Voluntary Organisations.
- 1992 Leisure Activities Organiser for the over 55's appointed to create, develop and organise a range of activities in community centres in the city provided by Aberdeen District Council. VSA achieved a major breakthrough towards improving the status and training of domiciliary, residential and day-care workers when it became the first Scotvec Accredited Training Centre in Scotland.
- 1993 Third caravan purchased for Family Holiday Scheme and located at Portsoy. In April 1993 Community Care regulations introduced which will have an impact on many aspects of our work. Deemount House, a supported unit for older people set up in 1982, closed in 1993 because of the difficulties in getting funding for this type of care under the new Care in the Community regulations. New accommodation opened in Peterculter, helping to integrate Easter Anguston trainees into the community, following a Special Appeal which raised over £300,000.
- 1994 A new Easter Anguston unit is constructed on the former Crichton House site: it contains showering and changing facilities, a canteen, a meeting-room and a small farm office. Princess Royal Trust Carers Centre in Belmont Street officially opened in April 1994 by the Princess Royal. The Centre's work extend to Aberdeenshire and Moray in 1998
- 1995 A 125th Anniversary Appeal raised £250,000.
- 1997 Woodgrove, a new 40-bed unit for older people with dementia, is opened. Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations (ACVO) is established, a Standing Committee of VSA, representative of the voluntary sector and with powers to act for the voluntary sector in Aberdeen.
- 1998 At Richmondhill House a creative play area is set up, and as a pilot project a couple and child take up a residential placement.
- 2001 New shop-front premises for Aberdeen Volunteer Centre are secured, adjacent to the main office in Castle Street. A new Children's Society Project assists children with special needs to access after-school care provision.
- 2002 A Young Carers Activities Centre is opened in Justice Street, Aberdeen, moving in 2006 to 82 King Street.
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