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Popularity of Coding Clubs continues to grow in Paisley


Young people looking to learn new digital skills are invited to join a new coding club launching in Paisley.

The free Coderdojo Club for 8-17 year olds is being run in partnership between Renfrewshire Council and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).



The first meeting will be on Thursday 27 October, 6pm-8pm, at UWS, Paisley.

The new club is the latest in a series of clubs and initiatives taking place across Renfrewshire including Coding Clubs already underway in Linwood and Paisley with Paisley YMCA and Renfrewshire Leisure.

The clubs teach young people how to build online programmes and websites and have proved hugely popular so far.

They are part of the drive by the council and its partners to improve digital participation, particularly for those who lack the access and skills to maximise the potential of being online.

The vision set out in the Digital Renfrewshire strategy, launched in September, aims to give everyone in Renfrewshire the opportunity to reach their digital potential.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “People often think young people are naturally more digitally skilled than the rest of us but the truth is that many young people are digitally excluded too.

“Coding clubs are a great way for them to learn new skills and gain confidence. The demand has been really high so far so we’re delighted to be teaming up with UWS to offer another opportunity for young people.”

Coderdojo is free and young people don’t have to have done any coding before. For more details and to register go to


Anyone interested in volunteering at coding clubs should contact Lauren Gilmour at Engage Renfrewshire on 0141 887 7707 or email lgilmour@engagerenfrewshire.com.

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Older People’s Comunity Art workshop at Paisley Museum


At part of the Paisley Digital Art Commission by UWS, the two artists, Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, will be running a workshop at Paisley Museum from 10 am on Friday 28 October.


This workshop will be a crafts workshop, dealing with memory and reminiscence, and how we represent memories. The artwork made at the workshop will form part of the exhibition, which will also include the commissioned ‘Paisley Pearl’ digital loom that will generate a unique paisley pattern for everyone in Paisley.

The workshop is free, and you don’t need any digital or craftmaking skills to take part. Registration is via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/paisley-pearl-art-commission-community-workshop-tickets-27729302089 or e-mail belle.doyle@uws.ac.uk if you would like to come.

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Business leaders hear of Council’s integrated approach to economic regeneration and tackling poverty


Business leaders met with a senior team from Renfrewshire Council this week to hear about the local authority’s plans to boost the region’s profile and economy.


At an event hosted by Amanda McMillan, Chief Executive Officer of AGS Airports – operator of Glasgow Airport, business leaders from some of Renfrewshire’s biggest companies heard about the Council’s wide ranging plans for economic regeneration and tackling poverty.

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan was joined at the event by directors from companies including Diageo, Gas Measurement Systems, Gordon Leslie Group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intu Braehead, Malcolm Group, Scottish Leather Group, Spectrum Service Solutions, and Thermo Fisher.

Representatives from organisations such as Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, University of the West of Scotland, and West College Scotland also attended.

Attendees were presented with a copy of the Council’s new draft economic framework, which draws together existing strategies and initiatives to drive the region’s economy forward during the next two years. The draft framework will be the subject of a series of consultations with stakeholders from the private, public and third sectors, with this week’s event being the latest in that series.

Council Leader Macmillan said: “We want Renfrewshire to prosper and grow, and we have a great number of assets within our region to help us achieve that goal. We want to create more and better jobs for local people through supporting growing businesses, attracting new investment and ensuring the foundations are in place to sustain the economy in the long term.

“Working with our partners, we can collectively build Renfrewshire’s profile both nationally and internationally, as part of the wider Glasgow City region and cement our position as Scotland’s economic powerhouse.

“Our Economic Framework provides a clear sense of direction and will be instrumental in achieving a fairer, more inclusive Renfrewshire where all our people, communities and businesses thrive.”

Central to the economic rejuvenation of Renfrewshire is its participation in the Glasgow City Region City Deal, which will deliver an investment of £274 million for Renfrewshire in infrastructure projects. The region’s three projects will create thousands of jobs, a new bridge linking Renfrew to the north side of the river, an investment area with Glasgow Airport at its heart, and the long-awaited rail link between Glasgow Airport and the City Centre, via Paisley Gilmour Street.

The Council is fully committed to making these projects a reality in the near future and the Council leader met with the Transport Minister earlier this month to seek assurances that delivery of the Glasgow Airport Access Project is a priority for the Scottish Government.

Relative to the rest of Scotland, Renfrewshire boasts one of the best qualified populations and highest employment rates in the country. However, the region also has areas of significant deprivation within its boundaries and tackling these inequalities is a key focus of the Council.

That strategy includes Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, which aims to harness the town’s internationally significant collection of heritage and cultural assets to transform the region’s future. Paisley’s bid is already well under way with awareness of the long-lasting social, economic and cultural benefits which a successful bid would deliver, generating strong support.

Council Leader Macmillan continued: “Bidding for UK City of Culture in 2021 is a once in a generation opportunity to harness culture to help tackle poverty in some of our most deprived communities in Paisley and across Renfrewshire.

“Culture is an incredibly powerful tool in helping to inspire people and support them in realising their potential. We want to give everybody in Renfrewshire the motivation and support they need to feel good about themselves and achieve their own ambitions in life.

“The UK City of Culture bid also has the capability to accelerate our economic vision as it will bring an estimated one million additional visitors to Renfrewshire, delivering significant stimulus to our tourism, creative and cultural economies.”

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Council leader wants unis and colleges to join jobs and business push

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Scotland’s universities and colleges can do more to work with local authorities to support new and existing businesses, according to Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan.

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The Council Leader will meet with members of the Scottish Universities Research and Commercialisation Group in Paisley today (Tues 13 Sept) to outline the planned investment for the Glasgow City Region City Deal to bring major employment opportunities to the West of Scotland.

Scottish Universities work with around 30,000 businesses a year – a third of these from outwith Scotland and provide a range of services and support – from meeting and events space to advice for innovative companies, learning and development for employees as well as a range of consultancy services.

Councillor Mark Macmillan said:“We want to work closely with our universities and colleges to capitalise on all the benefits they can bring, whether that’s in equipping students now with the skills required for the future or helping create the conditions in which new business ventures and entrepreneurs thrive.

“The economic climate and financial challenges we face in a post Brexit world mean we need to ensure we equip ourselves for change so we can compete in an increasingly global market  and have the right partnerships in place to support our local businesses and communities through those changes.

“We need to work together to ensure we are constantly re-imagining our offering to both the students of today and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to ensure our support to business does not stand still and remains of value.”

Renfrewshire Council recently signed a new partnership agreement with the University of the West of Scotland which secures commitment to work on shared priorities around education and skills, employment and investment. A similar agreement is planned this autumn with the Paisley-based  West College Scotland.

Councillor Macmillan added: “We have ambitious plans for Renfrewshire and the West of Scotland but we can only maximise the benefits of those plans for the people who live and work here if we work together.”

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New figures highlight the importance of EU funding to UWS

gavin newlands

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has called on the UK Government to ensure that higher education institutions in Scotland do not lose out on vital funding in the aftermath of Brexit – after new figures demonstrated the importance of Horizon 2020 funding to universities in Scotland.

gavin newlands

The figures obtained by the SNP show that Scottish higher education institutions receive just under €165 million in Horizon 2020 funding – with the University of the West of Scotland receiving over €740,000.

Thus far, the UK Government has only guaranteed that it will underwrite funding for Horizon 2020 projects which are approved before the UK officially leaves the EU – but has given no ongoing commitment to make up for the loss in funding universities could suffer after Brexit.

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

“These new figures show just how vital EU funding is to our universities – going a long way to helping our higher education sector maintain its reputation as a leader in research and innovation.  And the lack of certainty provided by the Tories puts this reputation on the line – risking the cream of our research talent simply walking away.

“The UK Government has only confirmed that it will underwrite funding received through Horizon2020 for projects confirmed before the UK leaves the EU– meaning that our universities could lose out on millions of pounds in funding after Brexit.

“Our own local university benefits from being able to access EU funding and it’s only right that the UK government – the very people who got us in this mess – provide the certainty is required.

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University of the West of Scotland (UWS) won the Best Partnership Award for their work with Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union at the recent Student Money Advice Awards 2016

Paula Ferrier & Kellie McAlonan

Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union and UWS funding team have been working hard over the past year to raise awareness of the benefits of joining a credit union along with introducing the concept of credit unions as community-based organisations to students.

Paula Ferrier & Kellie McAlonan

Paula Ferrier & Kellie McAlonan

 The Awards, which are run by the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA), took place at St. John’s Hotel, Solihull on 28 June 2016. This Best Partnership Award recognises the work the University’s Student Services Funding & Advice Team undertook with local credit unions, specifically Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union.

RWCU’S Marketing Officer, Paula Ferrier, said: “We are delighted that UWS has won this award; Kellie and the funding team are so committed and forward thinking with their students. They address every aspect of their students’ financial wellbeing: both the students’ immediate needs and their longer term needs. This holistic approach fits in with the philosophy of the credit union movement – people helping people. It is great to see a university like UWS acknowledge the great work that credit unions do. Our aim at Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union has always been to promote ethical, affordable financial choices and provide our members with a community-based alternative to the poor deals offered elsewhere.”

Kellie McAlonan, UWS Student Funding Team Leader, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received this recognition from our peers and look forward to continuing to deliver projects that support the development and experience of our students during their time at UWS.”

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Pupils’ experiment heading for outer space

MD group lift off

A team of secondary school pupils are reaching for the stars after hearing their science experiment will be launched into space and carried out on the International Space Station.

MD group lift off

The out of this world achievement was their reward for taking part in Mission Discovery Renfrewshire – a week-long space school held in Paisley which featured British-born NASA astronaut Michael Foale.

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NASA astronaut Michael Foale presents certificates to the winning team from Mission Discovery l-r Ross Ferguson, Ethan Jones, Frazer Scott, Cara Brown, Monica McFarlane and Louis Hurrell

University of the West of Scotland was the location for the third staging of the programme which is run by the International Space Schools Educational Trust (ISSET).

Around 200 S4 to S6 pupils from Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde were split into teams, each mentored by a student from UWS, and asked to devise a science experiment knowing the winning concept would be conducted in outer space.

The teams also learned from NASA’s approach to developing interest in science and research and fostering leadership, team building and personal development.

The winning team was Ross Ferguson, Ethan Johnston, Cara Brown, Frazer Scott, and Monica McFarlane , (all from Renfrewshire), Louis Harrell from Inverclyde, and Nicola Martin from East Renfrewshire.

Their successful experiment will look at how crops could be grown in space.

Michael Foale said:  “Astronauts are privileged to take part in space exploration so it is a very special moment to share with young people the knowledge that their unique idea is going into space and becoming a reality.

“The overall group in this Mission Discovery programmed. Performed as well as any we have been involved with.”

Cara Brown from Paisley, who was a member of the winning team, said:”It was an amazing experience to win.  Everyone involved learned a lot and the programme’s approach was very inspiring and supportive.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan added: “I would like to thank everyone connected with Mission Discovery and ISSET.

“Our aim is to provide opportunities for our young people to achieve and excel.  Those are certainly goals that are shared with Mission Discovery and that was reflected in the quality of learning and the creativity and hard work that was displayed.

“Renfrewshire has a proud history and continuing development as a centre for high level engineering and innovation and we are proud to have again hosted a venture which makes that even more relevant to today’s young people.”

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Mission Discovery blasts off for third year


Plans have been launched for a pioneering space school which is coming to Renfrewshire for the third time this summer.


The unique Mission Discovery programme, run by International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET), gives young people the chance to learn from NASA’s approach to developing leadership, team building and personal development, as well as fostering interest in science and research.

Over 150 pupils will work in teams with a panel of space experts to design an experiment with the winning concept being launched into space and conducted by astronauts living on the International Space Station.

Much of the programme’s appeal lies in the personal involvement of NASA astronauts who are present throughout the event and engage with the pupils and the local community.

This year is no exception and there is bound to be huge interest in the participation of Mike Foale, the British-born astronaut who has spent 375 days in space.

Mike’s career saw him have to react to the dramatic impact of a cargo ship ramming the Russian space station Mir which he was on in 1997.

A group of pupils from Paisley Grammar joined Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children Policy Board, at Coats Observatory in Paisley to launch this year’s event.

For the first time, pupils from East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde will join pupils from Renfrewshire in the Mission Discovery programme which runs from 6th to 10th June at the Paisley Campus of the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).

Councillor Henry said: “In addition to promoting interest in science, Mission Discovery provides opportunities, skills, experience and development which benefits all the young people who take part.

“Once again the academic programme will be backed up by opportunities for involvement for the community and business groups.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, UWS Principal & Vice-Chancellor, said: “The Mission Discovery project is one of the most innovative programmes we’ve ever been involved with at UWS. It is vital that as a university we promote and nurture the development of science, engineering, technology and mathematics capability in students.

“We want to develop and encourage the best talent in these areas and this project goes a long way towards achieving this goal. UWS is delighted not only to support the Mission Discovery project for the third year running, but also to be hosting this year’s event at our Paisley Campus.”

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£15million sports village could be ‘game changer’ for regeneration of Ferguslie Park


Ambitious proposals have been launched for a £15million regional sports village that will drive the ongoing transformation of Ferguslie Park in Paisley.


Renfrewshire Council, University of the West of Scotland (UWS), and St Mirren FC are in discussion to take forward the development which would feature a combination of facilities supporting elite sports programmes and community participation.

At the same time, the council is developing a proposal to develop a new landscaped town park on the site of the nearby St James’ playing fields.

Renfrewshire Council has already committed £7.5million of capital funding towards the joint cost of both proposals and believes that the projects could transform the North West area of Paisley.

Initial design proposals for the sports village will be developed over the coming months with local residents being given the chance to shape the design.

At this stage, the facilities being considered include pitches for football, hockey and rugby; a cycling track; an indoor sports facility; and a new sports physiotherapy centre.

It is hoped that the venue could be in place by 2020.

Representatives of the partner organisations involved joined local children at the Paisley 2021 stadium, home of St Mirren FC, to officially launch the plan.

Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader, Councillor Mike Holmes said: “We all know that Ferguslie has faced significant challenges over the years. I am proud of the positive changes that we are now seeing.

“This exciting proposal continues the wide-ranging efforts that are delivering meaningful change to people’s lives in this community.

“Renfrewshire Council has prioritised supporting people by investing in education, employment and regeneration.

“There have been lots of positive developments in Ferguslie in recent years, such as the success of the council’s Families First programme which is making sure all children in Ferguslie can get the best start in life.

“Building a 21st century regional sports venue will help to ensure that all our people and all our communities – including Ferguslie Park – can share in the regeneration of Renfrewshire.

“The Sports Village will be another step in unlocking the potential of Ferguslie Park. It will make the most of Ferguslie’s outstanding location though rail links and the close proximity to the motorway system – to establish what we hope will become a regional centre of sporting excellence and an inspiration to Ferguslie’s greatest assets – its people.

“Together with new builds for St Fergus’ Primary School and Mossvale St James and the redevelopment of the playing fields at St James into a new town park, we can regenerate a significant area of the north-west of Paisley just as momentum is building for the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland (UWS), said: “The University, which is at the heart of education, culture and business development in Paisley, has high strategic ambitions for all of its campuses.

“At UWS we are committed to delivering an outstanding student experience – both academically and in extracurricular activity such as sport. We are delighted to be working with Renfrewshire Council and St Mirren FC to explore the feasibility of a collectively owned and run sports village in Paisley.”

St Mirren FC will be another partner and St Mirren Chief Executive Tony Fitzpatrick said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Paisley and will not only benefit elite athletes, but will help to develop home grown talent as we work to realise the potential in all local young people.

“St Mirren is extremely proud to be a part of this important step forward in Paisley’s growth during an extremely exciting time for Paisley, as the town continues with its efforts to become UK City of Culture 2021.

Residents will be involved and help shape the development of the sports village.

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Council will invest £1m in digital transformation of Renfrewshire


Renfrewshire is set to become one of Scotland’s digital trailblazers after the council approved a £1m investment in public wifi in its three largest towns.


The innovative move was given the seal of approval today as part of the council budget and will deliver a two-pronged drive to achieve major economic and social benefits.

Plans to roll wifi out to Paisley, Johnston, and Renfrew town centres are currently being developed in partnership with University of the West of Scotland, West College Scotland, Paisley First and the Chamber of Commerce. Work is expected to start by the end of summer.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council said: “This bold and transformational step will offer residents, visitors, businesses, and students free, unlimited, wireless internet access in Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew town centres. We have a vision for a digital Renfrewshire and our investment will return major social and economic benefits.

“Renfrewshire deserves to be one of Scotland’s most connected areas and this will help to revitalise our three largest town centres, encourage shoppers and visitors to spend more time there – giving businesses a much needed boost.

“Paisley is already a well-established student town with thriving university and college campuses, and this investment will let us build on that by making sure students here can stay connected to online learning across the town centre.

“As Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 gathers pace, we will be looking to attract new trade and visitors to the town, and its important we can offer them 21st century facilities when they are here.

“For Johnstone and Renfrew this news follows the major investment in town halls in recent years and will boost the continued regeneration of both towns.

“Internet access is also widely regarded as the ‘fourth utility’ – a basic right and absolute necessity to allow people to fully take part in everyday life – and we know the most vulnerable are often the most digitally excluded, so this move will let us take our fight against poverty into the digital era.”

This move will build on the already established free public wifi in Renfrewshire’s local libraries.

The council has been nominated for two Digital Leaders 100 for 2016 awards in the categories: ‘Digital Leader of the Year’ and ‘Digital Inclusion and Skills Initiative of the Year’ for its work to drive forward digital participation in Renfrewshire.