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Exhibition celebrating VSA’s 150 years of work in Aberdeen comes to art gallery

Dr Kenneth Simpson and Councillor Ryan Houghton at the exhibition.
Dr Kenneth Simpson and Councillor Ryan Houghton at the exhibition.

An exhibition marking 150 years of invaluable work by local charity VSA is coming to Aberdeen Art Gallery this weekend.

Curator Lynne Clark has pulled together 150 stories from the city’s archives to serve as themes for Aberdeen Cares, which will open to the public on Saturday.

The exhibition will look at the role of Aberdeen Association of Social Service, which was founded in 1870 by former lord provost Alexander Nicol, in the history of social care around the area.

Known locally as VSA – standing for Voluntary Services Aberdeen – the charity aims to offer care, support, and vital services to vulnerable people in the community, and has supported more than three million such people across its lifespan.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to explore its Victorian origins, royal connections and innovations in care provision, as well as the vital roles played by its volunteers.

‘The best of care to live the best of lives’

Dr Kenneth Simpson, the charity’s chief executive, said: “VSA has been caring for vulnerable children and adults in Aberdeen and beyond for over 150 years, and the vast history of the charity has been amazing to discover.

“As times have changed, so has the way we have delivered our services, but always with one ambition: to give the people of Aberdeen the best of care to enable them to live the best of lives.”

He added: “We are so incredibly grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for awarding us a grant to help deliver this project and showcase the history of social care.

“I would also like to thank Aberdeen Art Gallery and Aberdeen City Council for their support in helping us present this exhibition.”

Stories of sharing and generosity

The VSA exhibition, which is free to enter, will stay at the gallery until May 29. A number of related events will also be held before then, including a lunchtime talk from Lynne Clark on May 4 and two creative writing workshops on April 2 and May 14.

Councillor Ryan Houghton, convenor of Aberdeen Council’s city growth and resources committee, said: “The Aberdeen Cares exhibition demonstrates how unfounded the Aberdonian reputation for miserliness is.

“VSA’s archives record generations of friends, neighbours and strangers looking after each other, often sharing what little they had with others.

“The people of Aberdeen continue their support for VSA and its work today through volunteering, donating, leaving a legacy and fundraising.”

More information about the exhibition can be found on the Aberdeen Art Galleries and Museums website here.

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