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Since opening its doors 250 years ago, the Poorhouse was the first to offer free medical relief for the sick poor of Belfast. As the town grew, the role of the Belfast Charitable Society remained central to the expanding network of charities, institutions and hospitals providing different kinds of medical care. This talk explores how the Society treated the sick within its own walls and how it endeavoured to respond to various public health issues. The Society played a key role in the provision of maternity care and the establishment of a lunatic asylum as well as dealing with epidemics of infectious and venereal diseases.

This year, as part of our 250th Anniversary celebrations, Belfast Charitable Society hope to use our talks and events to help raise funds for our ongoing philanthropic work, therefore we will be offering these free, with a ‘pay what you can’ donation. All funds raised will be used to support those most in need. Thank you in advance for your support.

Dr Robyn Atcheson is a social historian who specialises in poor relief and public health in early nineteenth-century Belfast. She teaches and writes on social history, women’s history and the social history of medicine in Ireland and Britain from the early modern period to the nineteenth century. Robyn consults on public history projects and is currently working on a project about the Belfast workhouse and pauper burial grounds in Belfast.