charities, heritage, housing

New book on Scotland’s oldest housing association

SCOTLAND’S oldest housing association today celebrated 60 years of success – launching a new book charting its history.

Viewpoint Housing Association opened its first development in 1948. Sixty years on, the Association owns 1400 properties and three care homes across Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife. It’s also become the largest provider of sheltered housing in the Scottish capital.

The group was founded “by women, for women” to help ladies of limited means get a home of their own. At its core was Jane Cunningham, the daughter of a Free Church Minister, who inspired a small group of women to take “matters into their own hands”.

Today, at a ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh – Viewpoint’s chairman, Dr. Roger Smith, reflected on the early years and the substantial growth since then.

He made his comments as he helped launch the new book, “Exceeding Expectations”, documenting Viewpoint’s history. The publication – which is being sold by the group and via booksellers like Amazon – will raise funds for the charity.

Said Dr. Smith: “The early years of the Association were to be spent fundraising, and purchasing the odd property here and there. It was a real hand-to-mouth existence. I doubt very much the main founder, Miss Jane Cunningham, would recognise what Viewpoint Housing Association has become.

“I hope, though, that she would be proud that the Association now owns around 1400 properties and manages many more. We now provide 120 care home beds, have a turnover in the region of £10 million and employ over 300 staff.”

He added: “There was no government funding in the early days. There was an almost continuous round of whist drives, coffee mornings and other fundraising initiatives.

“Companionship and unstinting loyalty to the organisation were the drivers, and it is absolutely incredible what that achieved. A biennial Easter Market was instigated in 1962. By 1967, Viewpoint had opened its first shop in Tanfield. At a time when charity shops were much less common, this was a pioneering step for the organisation.

“But in order to find out the rest of the story, you will have to buy the book!”

The chairman also thanked the Association’s bankers, the Royal Bank of Scotland, who contributed to the production of the book. He concluded: “It is an incredibly interesting story not only for those with an interest in housing, but also an informative social history of the period. Two books for the price of one is outstanding value and would make a great Christmas present.”

Dr. Smith was joined at the launch by some of the Association’s oldest residents – Edinburgh 100 year-olds Dan Orr and Margaret McNeill – as well as Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesman Ross Finnie MSP and invited guests.

Dan and Margaret with Viewpoint chair Roger and Ross Finnie

Mr Finnie said the new publication was “well researched and well written”. He told guests: “I congratulate you on this occasion and wish you well for the next 60 years.”


Also attending the event was Edinburgh pensioner June Grainger (81), who lives in a Viewpoint development in the Blackhall area of the city. She is pictured on the front of the new book.

• “Exceeding Expectations” (ISBN 978-0-95594276-0-9) by Laurence Wareing, is published by Viewpoint Housing Association. It is available directly from the Association, priced £10, or via booksellers such as

• For more information contact Viewpoint Housing Association – by email:


1. Viewpoint’s main aim is to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of its tenants and care home residents – promoting independence, enabling choice and offering peace of mind in a safe and supported environment.

2. Viewpoint Housing Association is registered with Communities Scotland as a Registered Social Landlord and is also registered as a charity with the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR).

3. The Association manages properties in Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife and Midlothian. The properties include:
i. sheltered/retirement housing
ii. enhanced supported housing
iii. mainstream properties
iv. amenity properties
v. alarmed housing
vi. wheelchair housing
vii. loanstock housing
4. Find out more online at


Viewpoint Housing Association is a member of the Rowan Group, which has been one of the City of Edinburgh Council’s preferred partners for housing development funding since 2004. Collectively, the Rowan’s Group’s eight members – Barony, Dunedin Canmore, Manor Estates, Margaret Blackwood, Muirhouse, Prospect and Viewpoint Housing Associations, Link Group and Malcolm Homes Ltd – own over 8,500 properties in Edinburgh, with a further 8,000 properties nationwide.

By combining members’ expertise, the Rowan Group provides high quality affordable social rented housing, housing for sale and private rental, or purpose designed housing for people with varied needs. Rowan endeavours to promote best practice and encourage social inclusion and is innovative in supporting the communities in which it works.


Please contact Graham Harper, Viewpoint Housing Association, telephone: 0131 668 4247; email:

Media enquiries: Adrian Mahoney, The PR Store, telephone 01506 823714 / 07967 150560; email: