As I approach my three-month anniversary at EVOC, I’ve decided it’s important to pause for a moment to reflect on what we have achieved so far with the EVOC 150 project and what’s in store over the next six months.
What is EVOC 150?
EVOC turned 150 years-old in March 2018 and was awarded funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver a programme of events, communications and initiatives to celebrate this milestone.
Originally established as the catchily-named Edinburgh Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, the organisation has morphed and developed over the last century-and-a-half to what it is today. You can find out more on our website.
Through the EVOC 150 project we will excavate the heritage of Edinburgh’s voluntary sector, celebrate the work and individuals involved so far, and look ahead to what could or will be in store for the sector over the next 150 years. No mean feat! Our project is focused on four themes: organising, tackling inequality, protest and campaigning, and working together.
This project has the exciting potential to make a major contribution to the profile of the third sector in Edinburgh and beyond, and as we face a period of transition and uncertainty in the UK it is a fantastic opportunity to research and document the importance of the sector. Sometimes the opportunity to simply explain what the third sector actually is, is enough, but I have bigger dreams than that!
What have we been working on?
Media Education has a team of young filmmakers creating a documentary on the history of EVOC. I’ll say no more on that as I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it’s going to be fantastic! Young people from their Friday film club produced two short, silent films about the life of Elsie Inglis (see below).
The Living Memory Association have digitised thousands of archive photos and are recording an oral history of EVOC and community/civic action in Edinburgh.
We have been attending events and meeting individuals across the city to spread the EVOC 150 word, and to consider ways to collaborate. We celebrated International Day of Charity by touring a small number of the thousands of charities based in Edinburgh to deliver thank you cards and profile their work with short videos on social media. We have also recently appointed three professional researchers who are soon to say goodbye to loved ones as they venture deep into various archives to interrogate the history of the organisation. They hope to be allowed to surface before Christmas to share some initial findings.
What are we planning?
We will focus on some of the causes central to EVOC’s mission by making a splash on various awareness days. I say this with a full appreciation that for anyone involved with: older people, young people, mental health, volunteers, eradication of poverty, human rights…to name a few, every day/year is their day.
We will present the research mentioned above in a public format early next year. This might be a touring exhibition, an interpretive dance or a projection onto the castle (some of these suggestions are definitely in jest). Watch this space! We are busy planning for the EVOC conference in November and are hoping to deliver an event as part of the Fire Starter Festival 2019.
We are also working with a volunteer storyteller who is deeply passionate about the importance of the third sector and the transformative potential of volunteering. I am delighted he found us and can’t wait to schedule his first engagements.
How can you get involved?
We would love to hear from anyone with an interest in this project and are open to all ideas and possible collaborations, creativity is encouraged! If this is too broad, below are some suggestions of who this might appeal to.
• You are involved with a school in Edinburgh looking for an interdisciplinary learning project
• You are involved with a youth group, community centre, care home, sports club, art group or similar and would like to host our storyteller at one of your meetings/events
• You would like to run an event for a relevant awareness day but would like some support
• You have a story of volunteering, fundraising, campaigning or similar that you would like to contribute to our Memory Box
• You would like us to feature your organisation or community in a case study
• You have a noticeboard we could display an A4 poster on, or a space to host some promotional postcards.
Get in touch by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow our hashtag, #EVOC150, on social media.