1964 Edinburgh Settlement’s Bold Social Service Plans
Two ambitious and challenging proposals, involving large-scale community development at home and abroad, are now being considered by Edinburgh University Settlement. They could revolutionise the whole scope of social service in the Scottish Universities.
The first proposal is to set up a settlement for social service along Edinburgh lines at Baroda, in the state of Gujarat in India. There the university is already taking part in a unique experiment by exporting a medical faculty to establish the same teaching techniques in medical education as are offered in Edinburgh with its illustrious tradition.
The second proposal is for Edinburgh University to establish links with one of the crofting counties in Scotland, probably Sutherland. Students and graduate volunteers would bring hands and brains to almost every aspect of the county’s development. They would build picnic places and caravan sites and work in peat bog reclamation and forestry. The settlement might set up and supervise work camps.
These two proposals represent an exciting departure for a Scottish university settlement, and one which shows Edinburgh is responding to modern needs. Founded in 1905, it now has a full professional staff and some 200 voluntary student helpers. Some students give it two or three hours service a week, others give an occassional weekend – or perhaps respond to some urgent request for help from time to time. At present its work is confined to the city.
Through it the students can work with under-privileged children or adolescents at the Niddrie Centre, with adolescents or the mentally handicapped at Cameron House, Prestonfield; visit a child or elderly person in a residential home, help a former mental hospital patient along the road to normal social life through the settlement’s Mental Health Clubs, or participate in the activities of Wilkie House, off Chambers Street, and its associated outdoor centres.
But now the future offers a borader yet complementary role. As the settlements warden, Mr. J R. Waddington, put it to me this week: “Instead of having a purely local significance, we are trying to introduce the students to world problems. And we now set up an overseas information centre, whereby we can stimulate students and advise them on opportunities for working overseas.”
The new International Service Centre in Wilkie House is operated by a committee, drawn from the university’s more outward looking student socieities – like War on Want…
Inside the Universities by David Kemp; The Scotsman, Saturday, June 6th, 1964
This is part of the Edinburgh Settlements digital archive collaboration with Ragged University: