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Paisley gets set for Halloween spooktacular


Paisley is gearing up for a spooky entertainment extravaganza at the weekend when the annual Halloween festival once again takes over the town centre.


The hugely popular annual event – run by Renfrewshire Council – is one of only a few of its kind in Scotland and will take place over Friday evening and all-day Saturday.

The first day of fun runs from 6 to 9pm on Friday, starting with a lantern-lit parade down the High Street from the UWS main entrance to Abbey Close, led by the stunning Spark! LED drummers.


Abbey Close itself will be home to a fire garden run by outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank, featuring fire-breathing sculptures, illuminations and much more.

Paisley Town Hall will be Spook Central, with Halloween arts and crafts, family disco, storytelling, puppet shows and music sessions with Feis Phaislig.

Saturday will see more of the same from 12 until 9pm, but with the addition of a main stage featuring live music from local musicians and dance groups and entertainment from Pulse FM DJs.


Both days will also have a funfair, street entertainers and a great selection of outdoor food vendors.

This will be the third year of the Halloween Festival and kicks off Renfrewshire’s major winter events programme, with the Paisley Fireworks display (Sat 5 Nov) and Christmas Lights Switch-on (Sat 12 Nov) set to follow.

And this year will see a special treat with the world premiere of a new performance by award-winning visual theatre artist Al Seed taking place in Paisley Town Hall’s Loggia room.

Described as a dark gothic melodrama inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Raven, tickets for shows on Wednesday and Thursday are on sale now via www.renfrewshireleisure.com

The show is one of the first to be funded by Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events fund, which aims to boost cultural capacity in the run-up to Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the Paisley Halloween Festival back for another year – it has been a hugely popular family day out with locals and visitors alike since it started in 2014.

“Again, we expect thousands of people to descend on Paisley town centre over the two days, providing an economic boost to the local area and local traders.

“This year’s winter events are extra special as the last ones to take place before the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 goes in next year.

“And with that in mind, we are delighted to welcome critically-acclaimed performer Al Seed to the town for a unique performance made possible by the Paisley 2021 bid.

“But the event is also a great showcase of the talents of the thriving grassroots creative scene we have here in the town.

“That goes from the young people making costumes and starring in the parade, to the many music and dance performers of various ages who will take to the main stage on the Saturday.”

The groups taking part in the weekend include Independent State of Happiness, Right To Dance, Street Stuff, Floor4orce, Solid Rock Cheerleaders and Rock Us Community Choir.

For more information, visit  www.paisley2021.com

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Pride of Paisley auction is a roaring success

Autumn lion
Photos courtesy of  Ian McDonald photgraphy for paisley.org.uk

Lions were on the loose all across Renfrewshire on Friday night as the ‘Pride of Paisley’ public art project came to a close.

Autumn lion Photos courtesy of Ian McDonald photgraphy for paisley.org.uk

Autumn lion
Photos courtesy of Ian McDonald photography on behalf of  paisley.org.uk

The 25 colourful lions were auctioned off to the benefit of two local hospices- ACCORD and St Vincent’s- with the final amount raised a staggering £79,300.


Paisley Love Buddie was the most sought after lion fetching a magnificent £6500.

The extremely popular public art trail was brought to the town centre by business regeneration group Paisley First as part of the push towards Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Inspired by Paisley Museum’s famous ‘Buddy the Lion’, each lion featured a different aspect of Paisley’s unique culture and heritage.

The auction crowd prepare to make their bids

The auction crowd prepare to make their bids

They’ve been the ‘mane’ attraction in the town centre over the past ten weeks which has seen an estimated 20,000 visitors following the trail around the town.

Alongside the 25 full-size lions, 40 mini lions have been spread around the area with the aim of attracting visitors into shops, cafes and restaurants.

Andrew Mitchell, Paisley First Manager, said: ““The Pride of Paisley has been an enormous success for Paisley First and demonstrates what we can achieve through our business improvement district over the next four years.

“The project increased footfall and brought new visitors into the town who have went on to spend in local shops, restaurants and cafes.  We are currently working on next year’s summer projects which I am sure will be as good, if not better than this year.”

Chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, said: “The Pride of Paisley lions brought a real buzz around the town centre and the project has been an unquestionable success.

“We are working hard to regenerate Paisley as part of our bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and the project has highlighted the community spirit that Paisley possesses- which we need to harness if our bid is to be successful.”

Paisley First Business Improvement District is a business-led organisation which has been tasked with bringing forward events and activities to increase footfall and stimulate investment.

Paisley First are also a key partner in Paisley’s push towards the bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

The art trail’s headlining sponsors were: West College Scotland, University of the West of Scotland, Renfrewshire Leisure, The Piazza, Paisley First, Paisley 2021 and PACE Theatre Company.

For more information on the project visit: www.prideofpaisley.co.uk

For more information on how you can get involved in backing the bid for UK City of Culture visit www.Paisley2021.co.uk.

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Vote for RAMH


RAMH’s has been nominated for 2 cash awards and are asking everyone to vote for them!

Firstly the Singing For Wellbeing group has been nominated for an Aviva Community Fund award – and you can help by voting at https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/voting/project/view/16-1743 and register to receive your 10 votes to get the group a crucial £5,000 in funding. We know that severe and enduring mental ill health impacts every part of a person’s life, and we also know that the crucial steps towards recovery include keeping connected, nurturing relationships and being creative. Please vote for Singing For Wellbeing in the Aviva Community Fund – this cash will make such a huge difference to the group.


RAMH has also been nominated for a Tesco Bags of Help award and will receive either £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000, depending on the public vote, for their Wellbeing Gardening Group. Voting takes place from October 31st – November 13th at Tesco in Linwood, Renfrew or Paisley. Please vote for RAMH during this fortnight so they can continue to offer creative and therapeutic support for people with severe and enduring mental ill health.


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Award-winning theatre maker premieres new show in Paisley


Paisley is set for a unique Halloween spectacular as multi-award-winning visual theatre maker Al Seed holds the world premiere of his latest solo show The Tapping as part of the town’s winter festivities.


The show – a gothic-horror melodrama based upon Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven – is part of the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid and taking place during its Halloween festival, in Paisley Town Hall from 26 to 27 October.

Al – a former artist in residence at Glasgow’s The Arches – is a critically-acclaimed performer who designed his latest performance based upon a long-term fascination with the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, and elements from Greek myths.


The show is one of the first to be funded through Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund – a five-year £500k programme to transform the town’s creative scene and build up cultural capacity during the Paisley 2021 bid.

Paisley 2021 Project Director Jean Cameron said: “For an artist as well respected as Al Seed to premiere his new show here is a major coup for Paisley ahead of the bid going in next year – and it just highlights our growing reputation as one of Scotland’s key cultural destinations.

“We are delighted the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund has enabled Al to create this original piece of work and I would recommend you book early for what is sure to be a fantastic spectacle in one of Paisley’s iconic venues.”

The Tapping is described as ‘drawing upon the myth of Orpheus’ descent into the underworld’ and will ‘take its audience down a hallucinatory spiral of madness’ within the stunning backdrop of Paisley Town Hall.

The show relies heavily upon strong visual and design elements, original music, and the space in which it is set, while drawing upon the history and conventions of gothic-horror literature and art, and related genres.

Al Seed added: “I am delighted to be presenting the debut of The Tapping at Paisley Town Hall and in support of the Paisley 2021 bid.

“This past year it has been wonderful to receive so much support in the making of the show; especially from the staff at Paisley Arts Centre, Johnstone Town Hall, and Paisley Town Hall itself. I am now really looking forward to sharing the finished results.”

The Tapping will be at Paisley Town Hall from 26 to 27 October. Tickets – costing £10 and £6 – are available now at www.renfrewshireleisure.com or by calling 0300 300 1210.

The show is being produced by FERAL Arts in association with Renfrewshire Leisure. Supported by Renfrewshire Council’s Culture, Events and Heritage Fund as part of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021

Paisley’s Halloween festival is free to attend and runs from Friday 28 until Saturday 29 October and will feature a spectacular lantern-lit parade through the town and a fire garden of flame-breathing sculptures. More information at www.paisley2021.co.uk

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New savings website helps give residents some credit

Frances McCann (Scotwest); Margaret Bryce (Johnstone Credit Union); Heather Kay (Engage Renfrewshire); Provost Anne Hall; Stacey Mathieson (Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union); Sean Sandland (White Cart Credit Union); Cathy Mitchell (White Cart Credit Union); Bill Ingles (Gleniffer Credit Union); Paula Ferrier (My Credit Union Renfrewshire); Alan McNiven (Engage Renfrewshire).

Renfrewshire’s five credit unions have teamed up to offer a one-stop-shop website aimed at covering the savings and loan needs of everybody in the area.

Frances McCann (Scotwest); Margaret Bryce (Johnstone Credit Union); Heather Kay (Engage Renfrewshire); Provost Anne Hall; Stacey Mathieson (Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union); Sean Sandland (White Cart Credit Union); Cathy Mitchell (White Cart Credit Union); Bill Ingles (Gleniffer Credit Union); Paula Ferrier (My Credit Union Renfrewshire); Alan McNiven (Engage Renfrewshire).

Frances McCann (Scotwest); Margaret Bryce (Johnstone Credit Union); Heather Kay (Engage Renfrewshire); Provost Anne Hall; Stacey Mathieson (Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union); Sean Sandland (White Cart Credit Union); Cathy Mitchell (White Cart Credit Union); Bill Ingles (Gleniffer Credit Union); Paula Ferrier (My Credit Union Renfrewshire); Alan McNiven (Engage Renfrewshire).

The new site at  www.mycreditunionrenfrewshire.co.uk has just been launched and brings together Gleniffer, Johnstone, Renfrewshire-Wide, Scotwest and White Cart credit unions.

It means the various services offered by the five organisations are available in one place – allowing visitors to find whatever savings and borrowing plan suits them and link through to the credit union website.

children from Hillview Nursery with Paula Ferrier of My Credit Union Renfrewshire

children from Hillview Nursery with Paula Ferrier of My Credit Union Renfrewshire

The website was funded through Renfrewshire Council’s Tackling Poverty Programme – a two-year £6m scheme covering 50 projects aimed at taking on the causes of deprivation.

Staff from local third-sector group Engage Renfrewshire also played a key role in co-ordinating the project.

nursery child Robbie McGlynn

nursery child Robbie McGlynn

And representatives of all five credit unions were joined by councillors in Paisley’s Piazza to promote the scheme to lunchtime shoppers.

They were joined by kids from Childcare First’s Hillview Nursery in Ferguslie Park – one of the first organisations to make use of the new website.

Paula Ferrier, marketing officer for  www.mycreditunionrenfrewshire.com, said: “The website signposts the users to a credit union which suits their needs.

“The five credit unions all offer different things but whatever the user is looking for – savings, a mortgage, a car loan, a funeral loan – it’s all there.

“We aren’t like the banks in that we aren’t in competition – we all work together and support each other.

“We are not-for-profit organisations and our members are the shareholders so by saving with us people are giving back to the community.”

Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall was there to help launch the scheme and she added: “The website is a great idea and really easy to use – I would recommend anybody who is thinking about borrowing any money have a look at it.

“We are delighted to have funded this scheme through the council’s Tackling Poverty programme – by helping the credit unions market what they offer we are putting money back into the pockets of people who need it most.

“Since the programme started in 2015 it has helped create more than 600 new credit union members across Renfrewshire, and saved local people a total of £84,000 on interest payments compare to high street banks.”

You can see the new website now at www.mycreditunionrenfrewshire.co.uk

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Families First serves up a treat during school holidays

Families First Johnstone Campus

Hundreds of pupils across Renfrewshire managed to get their free school meal this week – even though the schools were off for the October week.

Families First Johnstone Campus

Families First Johnstone Campus

The popular activity clubs run by the council’s Families First early-years scheme were run over the October holidays at 12 local venues.

Youngsters from Primary 1 to 4 in receipt of a school clothing grant were invited along for a healthy lunch and some sporty and arts activity for each of the five days.

Families First Johnstone Campus

Families First Johnstone Campus

The programme was recently extended to include P4 pupils for the first time.

The clubs were run at Brediland, Castlehead, Gallowhill, Glencoats, Langcraigs, Paisley Grammar and Todholm schools in Paisley, as well as Linwood High, St Benedict’s, Rashilea in Erskine, St David’s in Johnstone and St James in Renfrew.

Council catering staff were on hand to serve up the meals, while council and Renfrewshire Leisure ran sport and craft classes to keep the kids active.

The activity clubs were funded through Families First – the council’s pioneering early-years programme – which runs all year round in five of Renfrewshire’s most deprived locations and offers intensive support to parents with young children.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, the council’s education convener, popped into the activity club at the St David’s/Cochrane Castle shared campus in Johnstone to see how the kids were getting on.

And she said: “The activity clubs are a much-needed and well-used service and you could hear from the noise in the room the kids were enjoying it!

“The ongoing evaluation of the Families First programme has been able to detail the significant impact which the strategy is having across Renfrewshire and the difference to the lives of children in the areas where it operates.

“We are proud to be making such a positive impact on the lives of children across Renfrewshire.”

Active Schools officer Danny Johnstone was co-ordinating the club and added: “The clubs are a great way of guaranteeing the kids get a healthy meal – we encourage them to go up for seconds and thirds if they want to.

“It also gives them an opportunity to try different things – while the sport helps keep them active.”

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Monte Carlo Rally 2017

Driver Andrew Goodfellow and co-driver Derek Coghill in their 1930 Austin Seven Ulster 2-seater sports with Paisley Abbey in background

The town of Paisley has once again been confirmed as the sole UK start point for the 2017 historic rally run to Monte Carlo.

Driver Andrew Goodfellow and co-driver Derek Coghill in their 1930 Austin Seven Ulster 2-seater sports with Paisley Abbey in background

Driver Andrew Goodfellow and co-driver Derek Coghill in their 1930 Austin Seven Ulster 2-seater sports with Paisley Abbey in background

It’ll be the fourth time the town – which is bidding to be the 2021 UK City of Culture – will be the only British start point out of seven European cities for a range of historic cars to make the 1300 mile trip to the South of France.

(left to right) Paisley start organiser Douglas Anderson; Andrew Goodfellow; Derek Coghill; Renfrewshire Council Provost Anne Hall

(left to right) Paisley start organiser Douglas Anderson; Andrew Goodfellow; Derek Coghill; Renfrewshire Council Provost Anne Hall

Close to a hundred cars are expected to leave the start ramp outside Paisley Abbey at 6pm on Wednesday January 25th in three separate categories.

The Historique class is being run for the 20th year and is restricted to car models which competed in the Monte Carlo Rallies between 1955 and 1980. It will run over eight days on open public roads with the cars and crews having undertaken a series of fourteen demanding test stages in the mountains of southern France.

Driver Andrew Goodfellow and co-driver Derek Coghill

Driver Andrew Goodfellow and co-driver Derek Coghill

The Classique event is for older cars from as early as 1911 to 1980 and follows the same route to Monte Carlo but does not include any test stages, the goal simply being to finish in Monte Carlo after checking in at a series of control points on the way.

Once again the event will feature the popular Monte Heritage Runs which will follow on from the full-scale events and will take in a series of short classic routes in Scotland.

In January this year a crowd of more than 10,000 gathered in the centre of Paisley with the magnificent backdrop of the Abbey to wave off the crews in a party atmosphere with lights, music, street food and fireworks…..and working with staff from Renfrewshire Council and volunteers from many motorsport clubs in Scotland the organisers are confident of making the start even bigger and better next year.

The event was officially launched this morning by Douglas Anderson, the UK co-ordinator and the man responsible for bringing the Monte back to Scotland in 2011.

He believes the 2017 start will be the best yet.

He said: “The Paisley Abbey Start will flash round the world on the evening of 25th January 2017.  It is universally acknowledged as the best start in Europe and with the help of the good folk of Paisley who come out in their thousands to cheer the competitors on their way, we will keep it that way.”

Also there was one of the entrants in the 2017 event, Andrew Goodfellow from Dundee and co-driver, his brother-in-law Derek Coghill and their 1930 Austin 7 Ulster 2-seater sports which will – hopefully – complete the drive to Monte Carlo.

Said Andrew: “What a fantastic opportunity this is to take part in this historic event and were both totally confident that we and the car will make the 1300 miles. We’ve been prepping the car over the past month with still lots more to do to it to ensure everything is in top condition before we set off. The only concern is the very strong likelihood of snow while driving through the Alps.”

Their drive will also raise funds for SAMH, the Scottish Association of Mental Health.

The event is being supported by Renfrewshire Council. Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are delighted to be hosting the only UK start leg of the Monte Carlo Classic Rally here in Paisley again in 2017, for the fourth year in row.

“Next year we will be submitting the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, and to have this prestigious and truly international event  in the town centre just helps cement Paisley’s status as a key destination on Scotland’s map of major events.

“The people of Renfrewshire and beyond have always turned out in huge numbers to wave the cars off against the striking historic backdrop of Paisley Town Hall and Abbey, and I am sure they will be as excited as we are to welcome the event back.”

Giving his backing to the event is Scotland’s latest motorsport champion, Gordon Shedden, who won the British Touring Car Championship for the third time earlier this month.

He said: “Scotland has such a proud history in motorsport and it’s great to see Paisley as the only UK start point for this classic event. The Honda Civic Type R in which I compete is the latest example of car technology but I love getting behind the wheel of something from the past. I wish everyone taking part the very best of success…..and an enjoyable and safe drive to Monte Carlo.”

More information can be found at  www.monte.scot

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Radio show comes live from Johnstone Library

Janice Forsyth, who will present her live radio show from Johnstone Library

BOOK fans will be able to attend a live broadcast of BBC Radio Scotland’s Janice Forsyth Show, at Johnstone Library.

Janice Forsyth, who will present her live radio show from Johnstone Library

Janice Forsyth, who will present her live radio show from Johnstone Library

Producers chose the library to host the popular arts and culture show – between 2pm and 4pm on Wednesday, November 2 – after it had been recommended by the Scottish Library and Information Council.

Johnstone Library will remain open throughout the broadcast and people are being encouraged to come along and make up the audience.

The show is being held at the library as part of the BBC’s Love to Read campaign, which encourages people to read books.

Presenter Janice Forsyth will interview library staff, a youngster from the local Children’s Book Group and members of the public, as well as featuring Renfrewshire Leisure’s award-winning Skoobmobile mobile library and activity space.

She will also chat with authors, including romantic comedy fiction writer, Jenny Colgan, who will visit Johnstone library to take part in the show.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, which runs the local libraries service, Joyce McKellar said:
“Everyone who is interested in books and reading is invited to come along to the library to watch and hear the show being broadcast.
“It’s a feather in the cap of the staff who run our libraries that a Renfrewshire library was recommended as a good place to host a live radio show like this.”

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Paisley Buddie to play it right in Manhattan


A Paisley playwright is set to deliver performances of her play in New York as part of an international theatre exchange after receiving support from the Renfrewshire Culture, Heritage and Events Fund (CHEF).


Karen Herbison at Glasgow Airport departures on her way to New York

Karen Herbison, who operates as H-arts, will put on performances of ‘Say You Love Me’ just a stone’s throw from the famous Broadway theatre district later this month. The play has previously been a success at the world renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

H-arts was one of the first recipients of support from CHEF which is a key component of Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021. The £500,000 fund was created with the aim of unlocking Renfrewshire’s creative potential by helping the region’s cultural community run its own events and projects in the build up to the bid.

‘Say You Love Me’ will be produced by Mind The Gap Theatre- who boast revered actresses Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Judi Dench on their board of advisors. The production company are well known for taking the best of British theatre to New York every year- with productions ranging from short plays to full length features.

Karen and the team from her production company, Punch Productions, will put on three performances at the distinguished Duplex venue, known as an international destination for arts and entertainment. While in New York, Karen will also attend a number of theatrical workshops and meetings with the local cultural community to help generate interest in and support for Paisley 2021.

Upon her return from the USA, Karen aims to take ‘Say You Love Me’ on a tour of Renfrewshire’s high schools. She will also deliver creative workshops, covering many aspects of the writing process, to pupils studying Higher and Advanced Higher English.

‘Say You Love Me’ offers the audience a unique experience as it’s a theatrical performance which can take place in any public setting. Since writing the play in 2008, Karen has staged performances with the help and support of her Punch Production colleagues, Cheri Smith and Jon Cuthbertson, in a wide variety of venues, including most recently Bernie’s Café in Bridge of Weir.

Taking place in a restaurant setting, this current run of the play is designed to let the audience get close and listen in to what is happening at an adjacent table where the cast are playing out the story.

Critics have described ‘Say You Love Me’ as intimate, funny, explosive and poignant.

Karen Herbison said: “I’m incredibly excited about taking my play to New York and giving audiences there an experience of culture which has been created in Paisley. Since writing the play, it has always been a dream of mine to have it performed off Broadway and the support from CHEF has made that possible.

“I would encourage any Renfrewshire-based groups with ambitions of getting local people actively involved in cultural activities to apply to the Culture, Heritage and Events and Fund. It is a great initiative which is helping to make culture more accessible across Renfrewshire.”

Jean Cameron, Paisley 2021 Bid Director, said: “We’ve had an amazing response to our Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, showing that there is a real appetite to get involved in culture across Renfrewshire.  Karen and H-arts is a prime example of that and I wish her all the best in New York and upon her return when she takes ‘Say You Love Me’ on a tour of our schools in Renfrewshire.”

Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is taking place as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using its unique cultural and heritage offering as the home of the Paisley Pattern and the one-time centre of the global textile industry.

Bids are expected to be lodged with the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport in spring 2017.

For more information on Paisley 2021, visit  www.paisley2021.co.uk, like /Paisley2021 on Facebook or follow @Paisley2021 on Twitter and Instagram.

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Council leader says child asylum process ‘should have been quicker’

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

Renfrewshire remains willing to help offer a new home to unaccompanied refugee children – but its council leader says the area could have done more by now if not for government red tape.

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

Currently, around 1,000 unaccompanied asylum-seekers aged under 16 are housed in Kent – with hundreds more arriving in Britain this week from the refugee camp in Calais, soon to be closed by French authorities.

Renfrewshire Council agreed in September to start the work to put in place support arrangements for a small number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

But bosses weren’t able to fully progress those plans at the time as the UK Government’s national transfer scheme UK Government to relocate those children doesn’t apply in Scotland due to the separate legal system.

While that matter remains unresolved, the Home Office is now asking if local authorities in Scotland are willing to take in any of the new arrivals from Calais, outwith the terms of the national scheme.

And while Councillor Mark Macmillan says Renfrewshire is willing to help if it can, he feels more could have been done by now if there had been progress on the national scheme.

He said: “I believe everyone has a duty to help those fleeing persecution and am pleased my fellow councillors in Renfrewshire agreed this year to do our share.

“Renfrewshire Council is already leading the way within Scotland on its work to resettle vulnerable people fleeing the Syrian conflict – the 81 refugees accepted by the area since last year is the second-highest of any local authority in the UK.

“And we would like to build on that further by offering safety and shelter to a small number of the children arriving in the UK without anyone to support them through what must be an incredibly upsetting experience at such a young age.

“I welcome the decision made by the Home Office this week to ask for help from Scottish councils, and we will stay in touch with them to find out what is required.

“But I am frustrated at knowing we could have done more by now had the government not dragged their heels on the legal process around the national transfer scheme over recent months.”