150 years of memories

Share your own VSA memories

We invited people who’s lives had been touched by the VSA in some way to share their stories. Here you will find interview recordings from people who have been supported by the VSA in many different ways, as well as hearing from those responsible for facilitating these services and the challenges they faced delivering care during a global pandemic.

Lesley Frazer memory
Aberdeen Volunteer Centre Memories 1988 - 1994
Aberdeen Volunteer Centre was at one time an integral part of VSA, based on the first floor offices at Castle Street. I had the privilege of managing the Volunteer Centre Team (1988 - 1994) as well as some of the services provided by Aberdeen Children's Society: Support to Families; Integrated Playgroup; Contact Centre; Christmas Toy Appeal; and Counsellors for Children and Families going through divorce and separation. All of the Volunteer Centre staff were fully qualified Social Workers or Community Development Workers, and we were kept very busy running not only a host of in-house volunteer services, but also acting as the Volunteer Bureau for the whole city. My annual report to VSA's Community and Personal Services Committee for 1991-2 shows that we placed 393 new volunteers in that year, 186 of them within VSA's own projects and establishments and 207 with other voluntary organisations around the city. The Centre also ran a number of training courses for our volunteers, especially those involved in our own innovative projects supporting lone parent families, or befriending older people, adults with mental health needs, or learning disabilities. Our transport services were incredibly popular. VSA's three minibuses (Winlaw, Norco and Christopher) took older people out into the countryside almost every afternoon of the year (weather permitting) for a drive and a stop for tea. Each minibus had its own crew of volunteer drivers and helpers - 100 in all, looked after by a sterling group of four volunteers who came into Castle Street all through the week to take referrals, send out invitations and organise rotas. We also had 40 volunteers using their own cars to take older people for appointments, organised by another two Castle Street volunteers; over 1,000 such trips were recorded in 1991-2. Christmas was an especially busy time for us as we ran two schemes for VSA in close partnership with our Fundraising and Publicity colleagues - Christmas food parcels for older people, and the Christmas Toy Appeal. The food parcel scheme involved setting up a distribution hub in a large, very cold hall beside the Gallowgate Thrift Shop, which at that time stocked affordable, recycled furniture. Funds were raised to buy non-perishable Christmas food, and we and a loyal group of volunteers would spend the best part of the week before Christmas filling over 1,000 parcels in the hall, which were then delivered directly to older people in their homes by VSA's army of transport volunteers, using the minibuses and their own cars. The Toy Appeal when I started at VSA involved people bringing second-hand toys to the Beach Ballroom on a given day just before Christmas, which were then distributed by VSA's Social Work team to families in need. While many of the generous donations were of great quality, sadly others were not, and it was very difficult to provide suitable gifts for teenagers in particular. It was therefore decided to change over to a new system based on donated funds, which were used to buy new toys for younger children and to provide gift vouchers for teenagers - a much better system to my mind, and one which I believe continues to this day, thanks to the incredible generosity of the people and businesses in the city. The attached picture - the front cover of the Volunteer Centre's information folder - hopefully provides a snapshot of our work at that time and shows the important difference that VSA's team of volunteers made to the lives of the people of Aberdeen. We worked incredibly hard, but we had a lot of fun too!
Lesley Frazer
Carolyn Johnston memory
Tapestry in the making

Lesley Crerar, British Sign Language interpreting screen printing training to our heritage tapestry creators

Carolyn Johnston
Carolyn Johnston memory
Tapestry in the making....

Recently our lovely ladies from Aberdeen's Deaf Sewing Bee received screen print training from Ellie Turner, who is overseeing our anniversary heritage tapestry.

Carolyn Johnston
Jim Allison memory
Easter Anguston

I recently wrote an article on how VSA changed my life and part of that article reads as follows;

“One Sunday morning after a trip to the grave I couldn’t face going home and decided to drive to Easter Anguston. There I found peace and tranquillity which calmed me down. I was a frequent visitor until the covid virus forced a closedown, but as soon as it opens, I will be back there with my kindle where I can sit and read”.

Well, I have partly kept my promise and returned to Easter Anguston taking, not my Kindle, but my son and Daughter-in-law. We spent a lovely morning walking through the farm. At one point the peace and tranquillity was shattered for a short time by an amorous peacock who spread his beautiful feathers several times and did a little dance. We decided he wasn’t showing off to us and left him to his courting. We had a friendly chat with two university students, volunteers, who obviously loved animals. Later I met a long-time friend Judith and Jackie, both previously with Carer’s support and had a chat on the workings of Easter Anguston. I am pleased to say my family and I enjoyed our morning and one thing is certain, Easter Anguston is as it was, a friendly place to visit, it has lost none of its charm and is ready for visitors to return.

Oh by the way I bought some lovely strawberries.

Jim Allison
Jim allison memory
Easter Anguston
Wish to add family photo to memory posted yesterday
Jim allison
Carolyn Johnston memory
Rosy Cheeks and Big Appetites

Until the schools re-open in August, 130 children will be taken out every fortnight to enjoy a holiday at Linn Moor. And what rosy cheeks, what happy stories of games, sing songs and walks they have to take back to town with them.

And some of them going back to homes where there is never quite enough to eat will cherish memories of platefuls of delicious porridge and soup, of creamy puddings and tasty snacks between meals.

I shall never forgot watching 155 hungry children at dinner. They all stood at long tables until Matron had said the short grace, then bedlam of talk, of spoons against enamel plates broke loose. In next to no time the plates of broth were empty and a 155 pairs of eyes watched the maids knowingly as they served out more soup, most them couldn’t wait their turn.

With pride I was shown the features of the beautifully equipped kitchen, where tea was now being prepared for the children, who would soon return from their walk.

It was time for me to go. As I stood on the veranda saying goodbye Matron and to the babies who were hanging on to her skirts we heard singing.

“There they are coming back. You’ll excuse me if I go and see about their tea, they’ll be hungry after their walk.”

My best wishes to you Matron. Your “family” is a credit to you and your organising. 12/09/1930

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If your life has been touched by VSA, we invite you to share your story