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Cultural internship helping to kick start Linzi’s career

An employability programme designed to give experience and improve the job prospects of young graduates is flourishing- with over 214 having come through the system since it began.

Invest in Renfrewshire’s Graduate Internship programme offers paid work placements to Renfrewshire’s skilled young graduates who are unemployed, or underemployed, in their chosen sector.

Linzi Clark, the 200th intern to come through the programme, was struggling to find that first step on the ladder after graduating from university.

Linzi said: “I had graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Commercial Music and found that it was difficult to get that first opportunity to start my career and so was working in Costa Coffee full time.

“My older sister had previously completed a graduate intern placement at Renfrewshire Council and recommended that I should look at the vacancies available through the Invest in Renfrewshire website.”

Linzi applied for an internship with the Paisley 2021 Bid Team as the town entered the race to be named UK City of Culture 2021.

“Having lived in Paisley my entire life, I was excited that Paisley was going to showcase everything it has to offer through the City of Culture bid.

“I had been actively looking for work in the creative sector and have a big interest in the creative arts and so when I saw the opportunity to work as part of the bid team, I thought it would be the ideal role for me.”

As part of her role Linzi works within the community to raise awareness of the bid and find the hidden stories within Paisley.

“The highlights have been getting to meet people from all walks of life through community engagement, and gaining a better understanding of all the amazing things that are happening in Paisley.

“I’ve assisted with the organisation of various community engagement events and cultural consultations and I’ve also had the opportunity to perform at various events including at the launch of the Culture bus.”

The internships are an excellent opportunity for graduates and of those who have completed their internship, 80% have gone straight into work or further education.

Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We made eradicating long-term youth unemployment a key aim of the Council and figures in June 2015 showed Renfrewshire had climbed to 4th for youth unemployment out of all 32 local authorities- previously having been 27th.

“The Graduate Internship programme has been a key factor in bringing young people into employment and giving them the experience and skills to move into jobs which utilises their degrees.

“It is important that we give our young people a chance to get their first step on the ladder which will set them up for a career in their chosen field- and Invest in Renfrewshire gives graduates that opportunity.”

Linzi now plans to use her experiences to continue working in the creative sector with a number of fields now open to her.

“Working in such a small team has meant that I have gained experience which has given me confidence moving forward in my career as I now feel better equipped to take on new challenges.”

“I would encourage anyone thinking of applying for an internship to do so, as it’s a really great way to gain new skills and kick start your career.”

For further information on undertaking a graduate internship or advice on how to take that next step in your career, visit: www.investinrenfrewshire.com, call 0141 618 7856 or email intern@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

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School investment programme delivering results

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Work has started on a new school as another nears completion as part of Renfrewshire Council’s multi-million pound schools investment programme.

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Work has started on the building of a brand new campus in Erskine for a new joint faith primary school and nursery which will replace the existing Bargarran Primary and St John Bosco Primary as part of the £14m programme. The phased works will see the construction of a two-storey building and shared site facility.

Works commenced on site in January and the new campus is expected to be operational by January 2019.

In addition, work is nearly completed on the new St Fergus Primary in Paisley. The single storey building will accommodate 175 pupils and will feature a mix of formal and informal teaching spaces along with opportunities for outdoor learning. The school is due to open its doors later this year.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children Policy Board, said, “By progressing projects like the Bargarran and St John Bosco Primary campus and St Fergus Primary as part of our schools investment programme we are supporting the future of our children and young people by providing the best environment to help them learn and keep them engaged.

“This significant programme of refurbishing and building schools that is being implemented as part of the investment is not in the buildings themselves but in Renfrewshire’s children and it is exciting to see the results.”

The work is part of Renfrewshire Council’s extensive £52million investment programme to improve local schools and promote learning and achievement by giving children the best possible learning environment.

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Renfrewshire Council to help create another 100 jobs

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Renfrewshire Council will help create another 100 jobs by continuing a successful initiative encouraging businesses to take on young and unemployed people.

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Over the past four years more than 840 local people have gotten into work through new posts created with the help of Invest in Renfrewshire’s incentives to employers.

The new jobs were on top of an extra 430 paid traineeships and internships that were also created over the same time.

The Invest in Renfrewshire Employers Recruitment Incentive helps businesses meet the cost of employing an extra member of staff who may need time to build-up experience and skills needed in the job.

It was launched by Renfrewshire Council in 2012 but for the past few years has been jointly funded by the council, European Social Funds and the Scottish Government.

After national contributions to the programme ended in January councillors approved plans to continue funding the programme, along with the European Social Funds, for another year.

The convener of Renfrewshire Council’s economy and jobs policy board, Councillor Roy Glen, said: “We are determined to drive the economy forward and do everything we can to help create jobs for local people.

“This is a great programme that does exactly that, so we authorised Invest in Renfrewshire – our own programme for boosting employment and growing the local economy – to step into the gap and make sure it keeps delivering for local people.

“By paying half of the new worker’s wages for six months our new Invest in Renfrewshire Employers Recruitment Incentive will make it less risky for businesses to take on new staff.”

He added: “The scheme no longer has to be aligned with national funding criteria. Continuing with it now under local direction means we can make improvements.

“This Invest in Renfrewshire Employers Recruitment Incentive will offer businesses a more streamlined payment structure, making it easier for them to take part.

“We will also extend the initiative to the over 50s, helping people in this age group get vocational training and subsidised work experience leading to sustainable employment.”

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Housing plan could see Renfrewshire deliver 2,000 new homes

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Renfrewshire Council has unveiled the final version of a housing investment master plan which could see the area deliver more than double its target of building 1,000 new affordable homes by 2020.

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Councilors will next week be asked to approve the area’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP), which will see at least £30m of grant funding directed towards building new homes over the next five years.

The SHIP is the document which lays out the priority affordable housing projects in Renfrewshire – either planned or under way – over the years ahead, for the council and housing associations.

Since 2011, Renfrewshire Council and its housing association partners have overseen the building of 950 new homes in the area

That means the 1,000-homes target will be hit years ahead of schedule – and if all projects in the new version of the SHIP are delivered it will have been more than doubled.

Local authorities need to submit an updated version to the Scottish Government every two years to access central funding for affordable housing projects.

The plan was produced after consultation with local and national housing associations.

Councillor Tommy Williams, convener, of Renfrewshire Council’s Housing and Community Safety Policy Board, said: “One of the biggest priorities of the council is to help provide good-quality homes people can afford to live in.

“The Strategic Housing Investment Plan shows which projects we and our housing association partners are already delivering in that area, as well as the ones we plan to achieve.

“In line with other key council planning and housing strategies, the plan aims to make sure any new housing development is of the right kind and in the right place.

“Renfrewshire’s target was 1,000 new homes between ourselves and our housing association partners by 2020 – we will hit that years ahead of schedule and if all the projects outlined in this plan are delivered over the next few years, we will have more than doubled it.”

The following projects are detailed in the plan and will amount to more than 800 new homes over the next few years –
– redevelopment of Paisley’s west end, starting with the former Co-op site on Wellmeadow Street, by Sanctuary Scotland;
– around 200 affordable homes in the Bishopton Community Growth Area;
– 200 new affordable homes at two sites in Renfrew, at Andrew Avenue and the Western Park site in Inchinnan Road;
– around 100 new council homes for social rent in Johnstone Castle;
– 47 new homes and flats in Seedhill Road, Paisley, delivered by Williamsburgh HA;
– 24 flats built by Link Group in Smithhills Street, Paisley, as part of the next phase of development on the former Arnotts site;
– 18 social rented homes by Williamsburgh HA in Milliken Road, Kilbarchan;
– comprehensive improvements to tenements in Orchard Street, Paisley;

The plan also lists other potential future projects which could add another 500 units, including the proposals for housing regeneration in Ferguslie Park, connected to plans for a regional sports village next to the Paisley 2021 Stadium.

Affordable housing includes a range of options for people who are looking for a home to rent or buy: new council homes for rent, housing association homes for rent, low-cost home ownership/shared equity schemes and intermediate/mid-market rental.

Councilors on the Housing and Community Safety Policy Board will discuss the finalised SHIP when they meet on Tuesday 8 November.

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Anti-poverty programmes save £3m for Renfrewshire residents

Innovative anti-poverty programmes have put more than £3m into the pockets of Renfrewshire’s hardest-pressed families.

(l to r) Renfrewshire Tackling Poverty commissioners Dr Jim McCormick, Prof Sue Ellis (University of Strathclyde), Cllr Mike Holmes and Dr Linda de Caestecker (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of public health)

(l to r) Renfrewshire Tackling Poverty commissioners Dr Jim McCormick, Prof Sue Ellis (University of Strathclyde), Cllr Mike Holmes and Dr Linda de Caestecker (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of public health)

Renfrewshire Council’s Tackling Poverty programme was the first of its kind in Scotland – and members of the commission whose report preceded it today returned to Paisley to see how their recommendations are being brought to life.

The programme is made up of more than 50 individual projects covering education, health, income support, employability, and digital and cultural inclusion.

two of the Street Stuff coaches outside Renfrewshire's culture bus - Sarah Beattie and Emma Phelan

two of the Street Stuff coaches outside Renfrewshire’s culture bus – Sarah Beattie and Emma Phelan

Since the programme started in summer 2015 it has:
– allowed almost 1,000 home visits by energy advocates, cutting almost £270,000 from residents’ household bills;
– created 600 new credit unions members across Renfrewshire, saving them £85k in interest payments compared to high-street rates;
– put £84k into year one of a cost-of-the-school day fund – the first of its kind in Scotland – breaking down the barriers for less-affluent pupils;

That work complements the council’s existing Families First early-years scheme, which has helped residents claim £2.7m in benefits they didn’t know they were entitled to.

The Tackling Poverty programme has funded three new Families First locations from earlier this year, to add to the two which had been running in Ferguslie and Linwood since 2013.

Other achievements since the Tackling Poverty programme started include:
– more than 750 primary school teachers trained in literacy coaching through a programme unique to Renfrewshire;
– a 72% reduction in sanctions on Jobseekers Allowance claimants in the area;

The original commissioners included a range of local and national experts from the fields of education, health, housing, industrial relations, social affairs and more.

They and other guests were invited to Paisley Museum for an interactive showcase of some of the key Tackling Poverty Programme projects by the staff running them.

That included a unique scheme to increase literacy skills in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, the award-winning youth diversionary Street Stuff scheme, and a Making Futures project to engage young people in culture.

Renfrewshire Council’s depute leader Councillor Mike Holmes chaired the initial commission and gave the closing speech to visitors at the event.

He said: “Renfrewshire is a diverse area but deep-seated pockets of deprivation remain in some of our communities – as was shown this summer when government stats showed Scotland’s most deprived area was in Ferguslie Park in Paisley.

“These are long-term problems to which there are no easy fixes – and only a long-term solution will suffice.

“But this council was determined to take a fresh approach, which is why we pulled together a group of national experts and prioritised a £6m investment.

“I am pleased to say the work we are doing has attracted widespread attention and Renfrewshire is now recognised as leading the way in taking on poverty – several other Scottish councils have now followed our model.

“Today’s event was a way to thank our commisioners for their input and show them the steps we have made to act on their recommendations.

“I am immensely proud of the work the programme has done over the past 18 months – and would like to thank all the staff from the council and our partners across all 50 projects for everything they are doing.”

Dr Jim McCormick, Associate Director Scotland to the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was one of Renfrewshire’s Tackling Poverty Commissioners.

He said: “Renfrewshire has been one of the first areas to take such a comprehensive view of mapping out the causes of poverty – and across partners, not just the council.

“I see a big focus on removing cost barriers on families. There is reason to be optimistic about the long-term prospects for the area.”

For more information, visit  www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/tacklingpoverty

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Businesses provide their views on Glasgow Airport Access Project

A survey of businesses from across the West of Scotland, designed to give them a say on the Glasgow Airport Access Project (AAP) has closed, with early results indicating a strong level of support for the project.

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The AAP is the flagship project of the £1.13billion Glasgow City Region City Deal and is intended to provide a rail link between Glasgow Central Station and Glasgow Airport via Paisley Gilmour Street station.

The survey, issued by the Renfrewshire and Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, sought the business community’s views on the potential economic benefits of the AAP and the two options for the airport link. Results from the survey, which closed on Friday 2nd September, will be used to help inform the choice between the two options.

The full results are currently being collated and evaluated by the project team in an appraisal process which will be included in the Outline Business Case. That is expected to be presented for consideration to Renfrewshire Council’s Leadership Board and Glasgow City Council’s Executive Committee in December 2016.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said; “The business community is central to our drive to create permanent jobs and revitalise Renfrewshire’s economy, and the Glasgow Airport Access Project is a key component of that strategy.

“We’re pleased that businesses, of all sizes, took the opportunity to have a direct input into the project. While we’re just beginning to analyse the results, early indications are that the local business community is right behind the project and eager for it to be delivered as soon as possible.

“Glasgow Airport is Renfrewshire’s economic engine and its continuing success is vital to the future of the wider economy of the Glasgow City Region. The AAP will promote and support growth by offering passengers a better experience and improving links with the already existing transport network.

“In order for this project to progress, the transport agency Transport Scotland, needs to include it in future rail planning proposals due to be finalised next year. The project’s inclusion in this document is critical.”

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: “A new direct link between Glasgow Airport and the city centre is essential for the thousands of travellers who fly into and out of Glasgow every day.

“The Glasgow City Region City Deal will deliver that link, generating jobs and inward investment. I’d like to thank all of the businesses who proactively engaged with the business survey, as we value the input of those who will ultimately benefit from the project.

“We’ll be looking for the full support of the Scottish Government and its agency, Transport Scotland, to not only commit to helping us deliver the rail link but also to speed up its delivery.”

Councillors Macmillan and McAveety are meeting with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf tomorrow (14 September) to press the case for including the £144 million project in high-level rail plans due to be finalised next year and critical to the successful delivery of the project.

One option for the AAP is a tram-train link which would provide passengers with a direct link between Glasgow Central station and Glasgow Airport. It would run on the existing heavy rail network before switching onto a new tram line from Paisley to the airport terminal building.

The estimated cost of the tram-train link is £144.3m. This includes construction, rolling stock, inflation and land acquisition.

The other option is a light-rail, Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system where passengers would travel by normal train to Paisley Gilmour Street. At Paisley Gilmour Street they would change onto a new light-rail system to complete their journey.

Around 30 airlines operate from Glasgow Airport, serving 120 destinations around the globe and moving more than nine million passengers. In one month alone, July 2016, more than one million passengers passed through the airport, a significant increase on the corresponding week during the previous year of 6.4%.

The AAP will be delivered by Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council. Glasgow Airport, Transport Scotland and Network Rail are key stakeholders. Construction is expected to start in 2022 with services scheduled to begin in 2025.

See www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/citydeal for more information on Renfrewshire’s other City Deal projects.

See www.glasgowcityregion.co.uk for more information on the Glasgow City Region City Deal projects. Follow us on Twitter: @GlasgowCityDeal


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£3million investment in Renfrewshire community centres

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Some £3million is being spent upgrading and improving six Renfrewshire community centres over the next 12 months.

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The programme starts on Monday 12 September at Johnstone Castle Community Centre. The centre will be closed for around 10 weeks during its refurbishment.

Cargill Hall, Foxbar, Gallowhill, Glenburn and Ralston Community Centres are all in line for major work under the programme.

Specific proposals are being drawn up for each building but the work is likely to include: repairing or replacing the roof; re-rendering external walls; replacing the windows; redecorating; replacing floor coverings, ceilings, toilets and sinks; re-wiring; new lighting and the replacement of under floor heating with more efficient systems.

Councillor Jim Harte, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure Limited, said, “Across Renfrewshire millions of pounds are being spent on regeneration projects and new affordable housing.

“This refurbishment programme is a major cash injection into local facilities which provide services directly to their communities and are often run by those same communities. This investment will make our community centres more attractive for users and extend the buildings’ lives into the 2030s.

“It’s also good news that some of the works will be carried out by council’s own Building Services, a team which is developing a deserved reputation for delivering high-quality work, on time and on budget.

“This project has seen employees from across the council working with Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd to make sure that the cash available generates the biggest benefit for local communities.”

Renfrewshire Leisure Limited (RLL) manages Renfrewshire Council’s indoor sports centres and swimming pools. In July 2015 RLL also took over the management of town halls, libraries and museums.

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Retail Academy produces job ready recruits

Over the next six weeks, seven young people are learning the tricks of the trade at Renfrewshire Council’s Retail Academy.

Left to right::  Moroaj Alkenani, Morag Doig (Retail Coordinator), Cllr Mark Macmillan, Amrit Pall, John Docherty, Pauline McAree (Retail Academy Assistant)

Left to right:: Moroaj Alkenani, Morag Doig (Retail Coordinator), Cllr Mark Macmillan, Amrit Pall, John Docherty, Pauline McAree (Retail Academy Assistant)

The Retail Academy is based at the InCube shop in Gilmour Street, Paisley. It offers employer led training which is designed to help young people gain the knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience they need to work in a customer service or retail environment.

The trainees are: Natasha Aitchison, Moroaj Alkenani, Ruth McCallum, John Docherty, Nicole McGregor , Amrit Pall and Kelsey Robin

Trainees initially spend three weeks at the InCube shop where they learn to: deliver high standards of customer service, process till point sales and gain product knowledge and selling skills. They will also take part in merchandising activities and stock control. This is followed by a three week work placement where the trainees demonstrate these skills to potential employers.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “We want to make sure that there is a pool of well trained, customer focused staff available for local retailers to choose from. Our trainees will graduate in time for the Christmas rush when many retailers are looking to recruit new employees.

“But our aim is to do far more than just provide extra staff for shops during busy times. The council’s Invest in Renfrewshire initiative has been particularly successful in reducing unemployment amongst young people. Over the last six years we’ve seen a 60% drop in the number of 18 to 24 year olds claiming unemployment benefit.

“The Retail Academy is about giving young people the skills and experience which will be the foundation for long-term employment in retail or a customer service role.

“The InCube shop, itself, is an important part of our drive to regenerate Paisley’s town centre. It is more than just a Retail Academy. It is a real shop, selling high quality goods made by local manufacturers and designers. It is the kind of niche establishment that represents the future for traditional town centres in a time of expanding out-of-town shopping centres.”

Morag Doig, Retail Coordinator, said, “The InCube shop offers a unique live retail trading environment for trainees to learn in. The programme we offer isn’t just classroom-based, it is actual work experience which involves engaging with customers on the shop floor.

“An important part of our programme is helping our trainees break down any barriers that may be holding them back. This includes issues such as a lack of qualifications and limited work experience. At the end of the programme our trainees are talented, job-ready, potential employees with practical shop floor skills and an up to date work history.”

If you are a local retailer and would be interested in offering a work placement to a Retail Academy trainee, please contact Morag Doig, 0141 618 6040 or stop by the InCube Shop, 9b Gilmour Street, Paisley.

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Gavin Newlands MP meets with Sanctuary Housing

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has met with Sanctuary Scotland to find out more about the housing association’s developments in Renfrewshire.

Sancturary Housing

Mr Newlands joined area housing manager Robert Campbell to discuss a number of common housing issues that he’s been working on as a constituent MP, as well as speaking about housing developments that Sanctuary Scotland is engaged in.

During the meeting, Mr Newlands was given a tour of new-build Sanctuary schemes at Shortroods and Gallowhill.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“I was grateful to Robert for taking the time to meet me to speak about a number of issues that have been raised to me as the local constituency MP. Housing is the number one issue that is raised with me by local people, so it was good to meet with Robert and find out more about the work that Sanctuary Scotland is doing to address the housing need in Renfrewshire.

“It was also good to be shown around Sanctuary’s new-build housing at Shortroods and Gallowhill. These new houses not only make a massive difference to the lives of the families who live in them, but they also go a long way in helping to regenerate the area.”

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Renfrewshire Council’s jobs drive cuts unemployment by 43%

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New figures show Renfrewshire Council initiatives have almost halved unemployment among local people.

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Over the last six years the number of Renfrewshire residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit has dropped by 43%.

More than 2,000 adults have found work, bringing the overall unemployment rate down to 5.8%. The reduction is most marked amongst young people with the number of 18 to 24 year olds, who are claiming unemployment entitlement, dropping by 60%. Currently there are 620, 18 to 24 year olds out of work, a fall of 920 since 2010.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “The massive improvement in the unemployment figures is largely down to the efforts of Renfrewshire Council. Year on year we have been getting people into real jobs with real prospects.

“Our drive to end youth unemployment has paid particular dividends. We’ve seen a 60% drop in the number of 18 to 24 year olds claiming unemployment benefit.

“It is one of the most basic lessons of economics that getting people back into work is the best way to kick-start the economy. People who have jobs, which pay a decent wage, have the means to buy goods and services. This supports and creates other jobs in a virtuous circle.”

Invest in Renfrewshire is one of the key Renfrewshire Council programmes which offers a range of funding packages, designed to boost the local economy and help companies grow.

The business growth fund can pay up to 50% of costs of specific projects, up to a maximum of £10,000 while employer recruitment incentives help businesses meet the costs of hiring an unemployed young person for a new post.

Under the scheme, Invest in Renfrewshire pays 50% of their wage bill, at national minimum wage, for up to 40 hours a week for a maximum of 39 weeks. An extra £1,000 is available for companies paying the Living Wage of £7.50 per hour. Some 900 firms are signed up to the Renfrewshire Recruitment Incentive scheme. The jobs created must be new, additional to existing staff and, importantly, permanent.

Invest in Renfrewshire also matches companies with unemployed graduates, helping businesses benefit from new ideas and skills.

Microloan funding is available to help existing small businesses grow. It offers unsecured loans of between £1,000 and £5,000. The West of Scotland loan fund offers loans of up to £50,000, which can be used for working capital, equipment or property.

Grants of up to £10,000 are available to help retail businesses improve their shop-fronts and interiors and help is also on offer to find new premises.

InCube is another key part of the Invest in Renfrewshire programme. InCube is a business incubator designed to give new businesses the best possible start in life. The services provided by InCube are backed, quite literally, by a shop window for the unique goods created by local entrepreneurs.

The InCube shop itself has revitalised a vacant unit on Paisley’s Gilmour Street and sells textiles, paintings, jewellery, accessories, hats and children’s clothes.