The Agency was inaugurated at a public meeting on 10 March 1870 as Aberdeen Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. Queen Victoria accepted an invitation to become Patron, and the reigning monarch has since held this position. The Lord Provost of Aberdeen holds the post of President.
An industrial register was drawn up, helping men and women to find employment. Two workshops were opened to aid unemployed men; one involved breaking metal, the other (in Spring Garden) making firelighters. On average 30 to 40 men were employed in each workshop.
A day nursery for under fives was established in East North Street to prevent neglect; operated from 5.30am to 6.30pm while mothers worked at cleaning or washing jobs.
Prisoners Aid Society was established: interested in the reformative aspects of the treatment of prisoners, and giving support and aid after discharge.
Flower Mission was established: a visiting service to the sick in hospital or in the community, with flowers collected and distributed; the development of caring relationships had a central place in this.
Penny banks established in various ‘sections’ of Aberdeen to encourage the habit of saving. Aberdeen Public Soup Kitchen regularly supplied large stocks of meal tickets to the Association for distribution.The firelighter workshop was moved to larger premises in Rogers Walk, then in 1895 was moved again to 15-21 Princes Street, where a day nursery was also run.
A ‘Handbook of the Charities of Aberdeen’ was compiled, and published annually as part of the Aberdeen Almanac.
A house was rented for women on their discharge from prison, providing temporary accommodation and support until permanent arrangements were made.
In 1890 the office was transferred from McCombie’s Court to 18 Adelphi, then to 38 Castle Street in 1899. The Parish Council Offices were purchased for £1,600.