Ainslie House, 11 St Colme Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6AA
The first branch of the Edinburgh and Old People’s Welfare Council, overseen by the Edinburgh Council of Social Service, opened on this site in the autumn of 1941. In working for the welfare of elderly people, the council arranged friendly visits, especially to those who were alone or had few friends or interests. The Sydney Smith quote, “Life is fortified by many friendships,” was chosen as their motto. One of the council’s initiatives was to hold an annual “old people’s week,” with events such as film nights, coffee parties, and classes in handicrafts, singing, dressmaking, miming, drawing, and painting. As well as providing educational activities and social clubs, the Council also set up day centres and residential homes. Today, LifeCare Edinburgh, a descendant of the Old People’s Welfare Council, continues its mission to improve the welfare of older people, with three centres providing care services as well as the Stockbridge House community centre, which welcomes more than 70,000 people each year. The idea of friendly visiting is continued in their ‘Vintage Vibes’ charitable project which matches volunteers with over-60s to help tackle loneliness and social isolation.
Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Lucy Ridley, EVOC