With a rich history of helping the city’s most in need, Glasgow Care Foundation’s roots run deep. Founded all the way back in the Victorian era, GCF was supporting vulnerable families and individuals long before the existence of the Welfare State and the NHS.

Throughout wars, recessions and a global pandemic, the organisation has adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. Along the way, GCF has spearheaded schemes and shaped regulations – some of which are still in place today.

So, to celebrate 150 years of the Glasgow Care Foundation, let’s journey through time to look at how the organisation has endured and evolved throughout the decades.

We embark on a fascinating tour through the Glasgow Care Foundation’s historic milestones, starting with the 1800s!

May 19th 1874 – The Glasgow Charity Organisation Society was founded. Its vital aim was to improve the living conditions of the city’s poor and provide opportunities and training in social work.

1893 – The society’s Clothing Scheme was launched on a large scale. To help needy children, the scheme aimed to provide them with much-needed clothing and boots. The Needlework Guild was started shortly afterwards, thanks to the collaboration and hard work of a large number of Glasgow’s women.

1895 – District offices were opened in different parts of the city. Soon, there were 13 offices

throughout Glasgow, all run by volunteers. Salaried secretaries were appointed in most districts whilst, through collaboration with Glasgow University, a scheme was put in place to train Social Workers.

Diving into 1900-1940, GCF was a beacon of innovation and support in Glasgow:

1901 – A pension scheme was established to assist elderly people who had not amassed a

pension from their careers. Even after the introduction of the state pension, this essential support remained in place.

1904 – The Society became the first agency to build a homeless shelter. Not only were single, homeless men offered a roof over their heads, but they were also given work opportunities in the shelter’s workshops. With enough space for up to 80 men, the shelter stayed open until it was repurposed for the war effort.

1910 – The Mutual Aid Registration of Assistance is established. With multiple charitable sources participating in the scheme, this register of people who were seeking help in Glasgow centralised efforts to provide support for those most in need.

1923 and 1924 – Under a government supported scheme, boys and girls from inner-city Glasgow were trained in farm work. The idea was that they would be empowered with skills that would allow them to work rurally beyond Glasgow. Glasgow Charity Organisation was closely involved in the scheme and was responsible for providing clothing for the girls as they undertook their training.

1928 – The society changed their name to The City of Glasgow Society of Social Service and, thanks in part to a broadcast appeal with the BBC, the organisation was flooded with enquiries.

1932 – Eleven years into the Great Depression, unemployment in Glasgow reached 23.7%; this meant that 123,302 people were out of work and 90,208 inhabitants were in receipt of Poor Law relief. This caused a surge in casework for the society.

1934 – In order to help Glasgow’s struggling mothers, the Frances Lipton Memorial Fund was established to help  low-income mothers and their children.

1939 – As the country sat on the cliff edge of a National Emergency, the Society prepared to respond to war. The Society, after campaigning against so-called charitable firms taking advantage of people’s generosity for years, helped to bring about licensing for charitable collecting. The House-to-House Collection Act was established, forming the basis for charitable registrations and regulations that remain in place today.

Warriors of Compassion During WWII

As war broke out, the society took on more vital roles within the community. It became responsible for the Red Cross Postal Message Scheme in Glasgow, allowing messages to be send by British nationals to relatives and friends in enemy occupied territories.

The society also established Scotland’s first ever Citizens Advice Bureau. This resource helped to trace missing members of HM Forces and provide free legal advice, as it still does today.

Other wartime initiatives included a voluntary force to help in the aftermath of air raids and a Searcher Service for servicemen seeking to know the welfare of family after air raids. Demonstrations of Wartime Cookery were provided in people’s homes to help them make the most of scarce resources.

Due to critical need, the society’s geographical reach extended to towns throughout Scotland’s west coast. By 1944, the society had 8 Citizens Advice Bureau offices that\ proved invaluable in giving the community information on war time regulations such as rationing, identity cards, price regulations and PAYE.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, the society took on a huge number of cases on behalf of the British War Refugee Fund. There was also a deluge of domestic and family cases referred by service welfare officers. By the end of the war, the society had grown enormously, representing the financial interests of approximately 200 charity organisations.

1947 – As the dust settled and peace was established, the Old People’s Welfare Committee was created to support the elderly, whilst the Glasgow Marriage Guidance Association was

formed in response to a surge in marital breakdowns resulting from the war, PTSD and evolving gender roles.

GCF in the 1950s: Building Community and Support

1955 – The newly built post-war housing schemes were beset with problems. With a lack of communal facilities and recreational opportunities, uprooted families were struggling to settle in new areas. The Council agreed that the Society’s services should be available in the housing schemes. To this day, GCF still works closely with Glasgow’s housing societies.

1958 – Despite having evolved to provide a vast range of services across Glasgow, the Society decided to focus on much-needed family casework as its primary function.

Evolution Through the 1960s

1963-1968 – Due to funding difficulties, various arms of the society were either forced to close down or become independent. Reluctantly, the seven regional offices were closed, or the running was handed over to other organisations. Elsewhere the District Committees were disbanded, and their services directed into other channels.

By this point, state welfare, whose creation and legislation was greatly informed by the work of the Society, had taken on a lot of responsibilities that the Society had previously managed.

Reflecting on the 70s: A Time of Change for GCF

1970-1971 – After a drastic reduction in staff, the Society’s Bath Street offices were refurbished and let out to various charities. Voluntary service was encouraged, which helped to keep vital services running despite dwindling staff numbers. Bath Street became the home of the new Citizens’ Advice Bureau, the busiest and most modern in Europe.

1972-1973 – The consolidation of the Society’s affairs was completed. Help was no longer provided by the local authority, so all money had to come from voluntary donations. Work continued thanks to the dedication of a skeleton staff and a Volunteer Bureau. The initiative was taken to establish a council representing all the charity organisations of Glasgow.

Journey Through Time: GCF Today

1999 – Dinner at the Peoples’ Palace to celebrate the organisation’s 125th Anniversary.

2007 – We took over the City of Glasgow Native Benevolent Association, and their Directors

became Directors of CGSSS

2009 – Consolidation of the 13 trusts administered by the Society.

2013 – We change our name to the Glasgow Care Foundation. We also go from being a

a company limited by guarantee to a SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation). A new website was created, bringing GCF firmly into the 21st Century.

2020 – As a global pandemic forced the world into lockdown, we adapted our services to the changed needs of the community. Through our network of health visitors and other organisations we distributed over 40K of food vouchers to beneficiaries struggling to survive and afford food for their children.

How our staff work changed, too. We began working from home, a setup that has remained in place ever since.

2022 – The organization dedicates itself to the aim of helping 10,000 people in 10 years. They are currently well on their way to surpassing this goal.

Glasgow Care Foundation in 2024

After 150 years, our work – sadly – is far from done. As we experience a rise in poverty across the city, we continue to provide vital household items for families, allowing them a warm meal and clean clothes. We also provide hardship grants for local schools and support school trips and holidays. Last year, we supported over 30 local small organisations and charities who would benefit from a grant.

Glasgow Care Foundation endures thanks to a small, dedicated staff and board consisting of volunteer trustees. We’re privately funded and do not receive funding from the government.

As an individual, you can donate a small amount monthly or consider becoming one of our

Ambassadors. If you’re an organisation looking for your next charity of the year or the beneficiary of your team fundraising activity, we would be delighted to hear from you.

For an informal chat or more information please email info@glasgowcarefoundation.org

More information is also available at www.glasgowcarefoundation.org

On our LinkedIn page www.linkedin.com/company/glasgow-care-foundation