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Residents encouraged to get the ‘feel good’ feeling

Residents encouraged to get the ‘feel good’ feeling.

Renfrewshire residents are being encouraged to come along to a free event and get the ‘feel good’ feeling.

Feel Good Renfrewshire will take place in the Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley, on Tuesday 25 March.

Residents can drop in anytime between 3pm and 6pm to find out about activities in their area and even try some out.

The event is being staged jointly by Active Communities, Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership and Renfrewshire Council.

Councillor Iain McMillan, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Social Work, Health and Wellbeing Policy Board, said: “Feel Good Renfrewshire will spread the message about all the things available to help your health and wellbeing, and this launch event is a great start.

“Singing, dancing, exercising, gardening – there as all things that make you feel good. Sometimes, you just need to know who else nearby is doing these things so you can get started.”

“Renfrewshire is packed full of clubs and groups for people of all ages, abilities and interests. There are also plenty of agencies in the public and voluntary sectors providing advice and support. This is an ideal opportunity for people to drop in at the Lagoon and find out for themselves.”

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

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Renfrewshire schools take part in the Culinary Games

Renfrewshire schools take part in the Culinary Games.

Pupils and school catering teams across Renfrewshire have celebrated International School Meals Day (6 March) by taking part in the Culinary Games.

This year’s theme is the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Renfrewshire schools demonstrated their support for their second teams by offering pupils a Kenyan styled school meal and a selection of sweet treats from Papua New Guinea.

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition amongst pupils, foster healthy eating habits both at home and at school, and bring some fun to lunchtime.

The specials available on the day included a green bean salad starter with sweet corn, cherry tomato and basil; a choice of two mains, Chicken Kima (curry with rice) or Nyama Na Irio (spicy beef and potato stew); rounded-off with a dessert of banana mousse with mango and dragon fruit.

Pupils could also snack on Ivorian banana pancakes and Papuan banana loaf, which plays into this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight campaign.

This is just one of many themed school meals planned this term. Whether a school meal regular or not, all pupils are welcome to treat their taste buds to something different and can simply turn up and pay on the day.

Councillor Eddie Devine, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board said: “Renfrewshire’s school catering service is changing. Taking part in the Culinary Games is an opportunity for pupils to experience our new approach to school meals that offers pupils wider choice and more inviting environments in which to eat and socialise with friends.

“More primary school pupils are now enjoying the variety that our Grab & Go lunches and Dine-In days provide, while our coffee bars have been a big hit with our secondary schools pupils whose tastes are maturing and want a more sophisticated experience”.

If you think school meals could be a good option for your child visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/schoolmeals for more information or ask in school.

Image 1 – Councillor Eddie Devine, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board and Renfrewshire Provost, Anne Hall, sit down to enjoy a Kenyan feast with pupils at East Fulton Primary School.

Image 2 – Renfrewshire Provost, Anne Hall and pupil Benjamin Huthieson tuck into Chicken Kima and Nyama Na Irio prepared by the Catering Team at East Fulton Primary School.

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New heritage centre is highlight of ‘Digital December’

New heritage centre is highlight of ‘Digital December’.

A new digital heritage centre in Paisley Central Library has been unveiled as part of a ‘Digital December’ of online activity from Renfrewshire Libraries.

The Heritage Centre, based in what was known as the Reference and Local Studies Library, is designed to meet the growing demand for access to digital archives and records and to showcase Paisley’s proud history.

Cllr Stuart Clark with libraries manager Jenifer McFarlane

The new centre was officially opened this week by Cllr Stuart Clark, depute convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Culture Policy Board.

The opening the new centre is the centrepiece of a month of online activity from Renfrewshire Libraries.

A new website for library members will make it possible to borrow at all hours and access electronic and audio books amongst a wealth of other online resources.

Libraries staff will hold a number of drop-in sessions during the month designed to help local people ‘tame technology’ and get to grips with the growing number of smartphones, tablets and e-readers they possess.

Cllr Clark said: “Shows such as the BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” have made research into family history an ever more popular leisure activity. As our libraries do more to tap into that demand, our visitor numbers will only increase.”

“But Digital December shows that our libraries are about so much more than places to borrow books.

“They are places where people can go online for free and access information about the job market. They host Bookbug sessions where parents and children can bond through reading and song. And they are sources of vital health information and advice thanks to initiatives like Living Well @ The Library which we’ve developed together with Macmillan Cancer Support”.

“Libraries are ideal places to bring like-minded people together within a community, or for people to go to get the information and services they need, and that’s why we’re investing in their future.”

A programme of events for Digital December is available in every Renfrewshire Library. More information about library services is available by calling 0300 300 1188 or emailing libraries@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

The new Renfrewshire Libraries website is available at www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk.

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Councils team up to help out heroes

Councils team up to help out heroes.

East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire councils have teamed up for a new initiative helping Armed Forces veterans.

The three councils, working with the Veterans Support Service, have introduced a new customer service initiative designed to make sure veterans get the help they need.

Customer service advisors at all three authorities have been trained to ask the right questions to identify veterans and ‘signpost’ them to specialist advice in housing, employment, benefits or medical treatment.

Lt Col Neil Russell with Renfrewshire customer service advisor Stacey Stuart

The initiative was given a significant boost this week when the UK Government announced that it will receive £87,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant (LIBOR) Fund.

Monies raised from fines imposed on UK banks which manipulated LIBOR – the interest rate at which banks lend to each other – is used to support the Armed Forces Covenant, a pledge from public services to do what they can to ensure veterans are not disadvantaged.

Each of the three councils has signed the covenant in the past year and all participate in the Firmbase initiative to co-ordinate veterans’ support across the west of Scotland.

The customer service initiative was launched this month when elected members from the three councils met with Lt Col Neil Russell of the Army Personnel Centre. Lt Col Russell also spoke with Stacey Stuart, customer service advisor at Renfrewshire Council, to try out the new service.

Lt Col Russell said: “I’m in uniform today so it’s immediately obvious that I’m with the Armed Forces. But if someone walks in off the street and into a council office, how would you know if they’ve served in the forces? It seems so simple, but unless an advisor asks, then they might not get to the heart of what the person needs.”

“The enthusiasm and interest shown by all of the advisors trained has been to their credit and it’s clear they want to do what they can to help.

“Initiatives like this are so important to supporting veterans and I’m very appreciative of the resources all three councils have invested in making this happen.”

Brian Finch, Scottish regional manager for the Veterans Welfare Service, part of the MoD, said: “We provide advice to the ex-service community and service personnel. Young or old, they can get advice and help from us.

“It’s crucial that people in other agencies coming into regular contact with veterans understand this and can signpost them to us. We’re delighted to be contributing to this initiative and believe it will be of real benefit to our veterans.”

Cllr Anne Hall, Renfrewshire’s Provost, said: “Renfrewshire has a proud tradition of support for the Armed Forces and for service veterans. We’ve been home to the Erskine veterans’ charity since 1917 so we know how difficult it can be for those who have served to make the adjustment to civilian life.”

“I’m glad to see that we’re still finding new ways of helping our veterans and I hope this new initiative goes from strength to strength.”

Cllr Jim Fletcher, leader of East Renfrewshire Council, said: “The Libor Funding is a welcome boost and a recognition of our community covenant pledge and the innovative work we are doing with public, health and voluntary sectors to help service personnel, families and veterans access support.

“This funding will enable us to continue to assist our community fully and further strengthen the support given to East Renfrewshire’s in-service and ex-service personnel.”

Cllr David Wilson, depute Provost of Inverclyde Council, said: “We have a long and proud association with the armed forces in Inverclyde so I am delighted we are part of this service offering help and support.

“It is also an opportunity to promote better understanding and awareness of the issues facing veterans and their families and will be of real benefit to them.”

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Renfrewshire Council procurement team celebrates success

Cllr Eddie Grady with the council's procurement team

Renfrewshire Council procurement team celebrates success.

Renfrewshire Council’s procurement team is celebrating after its performance was recognised at its industry Oscars.

The team – which oversees the council’s purchasing needs – was highly commended in the Team of the Year category at the Government Opportunities (GO) Awards Scotland this month.

The council established its procurement team in 2009 and since then has achieved significant financial savings by introducing more efficient practices.

Cllr Eddie Grady with the council's procurement team

Councillor Eddie Grady, who attended the GO Awards ceremony with the team, said: “The council spends more than £200 million a year on a massive range of goods and services from thousands of different suppliers, both big and small. It’s crucial that we get value for taxpayer money in all our dealings.

“The job of the procurement team is to co-ordinate all contracts and spending as efficiently as possible. For the team to be recognised by their peers is testament to how well they are doing.

The team was also shortlisted in award categories for excellence in collaboration and corporate social responsibility.

The team may be in line for further success with the recent news that Julie Welsh, Head of Procurement and Business Support for Renfrewshire Council, has been shortlisted for the national award of ‘Procurement Professional of the Year’ by the Society of Procurement Officers (SOPO).

The corporate procurement unit’s innovative structure – with one centralised team dealing with all council spending – is considered rare within local government.

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New Johnstone town hall praised as building work starts

New Johnstone town hall praised as building work starts.

The new £14.5m Johnstone Town Hall has been hailed as a development which will benefit the whole town, as work starts on the new building.

Workers have been on site this week to start groundworks on the 21-month project to build and fit out the state-of-the-art town hall.

The building is being taken forward by Renfrewshire Council and represents a massive investment in the regeneration of Johnstone.

Johnstone Town Hall work starts

When it opens in summer 2015, the town hall will house a new library, marriage suite, theatre and conference space, meeting rooms and a café.

It will also contain offices for Renfrewshire Council housing and social work staff, as well as Police Scotland and Macmillan Cancer Support.

And Provost Anne Hall – who attended a small ceremony to mark the start of building work – believes the development will be a major boost for Johnstone.

She said: “This will be more than just a building – it will be a modern centrepiece for the entire town.

“It will bring a number of important facilities and services under one roof – there will be something there of benefit to every resident of the town and its surrounding area.

“A lot of work has already gone into the design for this building over the past few years – and the council has been very keen to involve the community in that.

“The start of building work marks another significant milestone along the way.”

Provost Hall was joined on site by representatives of BAM Construction, the building contractors, and Hub West Scotland, who manage the contract.

Earlier this month, Renfrewshire Council unveiled hoardings around the site which display an illustration of buildings and landmarks around the town.

The epic artwork – which stretches around three sides of the site – is intended to represent and showcase the town’s past, present and future while work is ongoing.

A temporary Johnstone Library will be open in Collier Street while the work is ongoing.

For more information about the project, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/johnstone or call 0300 300 0114.

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More nursery time on the way for Renfrewshire 3 and 4 year olds

More nursery time on the way for Renfrewshire 3 and 4 year olds.

Renfrewshire Council has launched a new consultation for parents about changes to nursery provision.

Currently every three and four year old in Scotland is entitled to 475 hours of government funded pre-school education each year. The Scottish Government is increasing this annual entitlement to 600 hours from August 2014.

KE 600hrs consultation 211013

Families in Renfrewshire with children under four have six weeks to tell the council what nursery arrangements suit their needs best so the council can plan for this change.

Whether it’s longer days or more days at nursery for their child, parents can register their views online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board: “It’s necessary that we plan and develop a nursery provision that meets the Scottish Government’s commitment, but more importantly, also suits the needs of children and families within Renfrewshire.

“This change complements the work already underway to give children in Renfrewshire a great start in life.

“Our £7 million Families First programme is improving access to early learning and supporting families to deal with the issues that impact on their youngster’s ability to learn and develop or which prevents them for reaching their potential.

“A nursery provision that meets the needs of families will give parents the option to participate in work, training or education and the opportunity to build a better future for their family”.

Parents have until 1 December to take part in the consultation, which can they do online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst or by calling 0300 300 0300 to arrange for a paper copy to be sent to them.

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Conferences will make 2023 plan real for Renfrewshire communities

Conferences will make 2023 plan real for Renfrewshire communities.

Leaders of Renfrewshire’s community planning partnership met with local community leaders at Renfrew Town Hall to launch a programme of conferences aimed at achieving ambitious targets for Renfrewshire by 2023.

The community planning partnership is made up of Renfrewshire’s main public services, including the council, the police and the health service, along with representatives of community and voluntary organisations.

DSC_9734

Each of the five conferences run from 9.45am till 3pm and will look in detail at one of the key themes of the recently approved Renfrewshire Community Plan 2013-2023:

* Children and young people – Thursday 14 November – St Mirren Park

* Community care, health and wellbeing – Friday 15 November – West College Scotland

* A safer and stronger Renfrewshire – Monday 18 November – West College Scotland

* A greener Renfrewshire – Monday 25 November – Anchor Mill, Paisley

* Jobs and the economy – Wednesday 27 November – Kibble Centre, Paisley

The conferences will develop action plans for community and voluntary organisations and local residents to shape the plan to help them deliver better services and identify areas where they can help with the delivery of services.

Renfrewshire Council Leader, Councillor Mark Macmillan, said, “Community planning is about involving local people in shaping and delivering the services that they need. The themes of the community plan reflect the big issues that face Renfrewshire and the shared priorities of the council, the police, the health service and all of our other public services.

“All of the public services who were here today are committed to delivering the best possible services to our communities, particularly those that are facing the most challenging circumstances.“

Alan McNiven, Chief Executive of Engage Renfrewshire, which supports voluntary organisations, community groups and charities in the area, said, “One of the most important things about this community plan is the central role local voluntary and community organisations will play in developing the plan and achieving its targets.

“You only need to look around to see the important role that community organisations and charities have in delivering services, such health care, social care, child care and sport and leisure to Renfrewshire’s communities. The increased involvement of these organisations will play a big part in ensuring that the community plan achieves its aims.

“The programme of planning conferences announced today will provide a focus where public services and the communities that they serve can get together to make the community plan real.”

Renfrewshire’s community plan for 2013-2023 can be viewed at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

To find out more about attending one of the community planning conferences, email

lesley.jones-ce@renfrewshire.gov.uk or call 0141 618 7353.

Readers can contribute to the discussion about the community plan on Twitter using hashtag #mpowren

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Renfrewshire secures £600,000 to support residents facing hardship

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

Renfrewshire secures £600,000 to support residents facing hardship

More than £600,000 of funding has been secured for vital projects to help Renfrewshire residents who are being hit by the UK Government’s benefit changes.

The council and its third sector partners worked on four funding bids that have brought a total of £678,896 into the area, meaning 15 extra staff posts can be created to help people cope with the impacts of welfare reform.

renfrewshire council logo .JPGThe cash has been secured from the Big Lottery’s Support and Connect fund and the Scottish Legal Aid Board’s (SLAB) Making Advice Work fund and will be targeted to four projects:
* Helping Disability Living Allowance claimants through the benefit changing over to Personal Independence Payment
* Supporting tenants affected by ‘bedroom tax’
* Targeting financial advice to people with addiction and mental health issues
* Offering support to tenants facing hardship.

Councillor Mike Holmes, Renfrewshire Council’s Depute Leader, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that once again, Renfrewshire has been pro-active in doing all it can to work with partners to help local people who are being adversely affected by the UK Government’s benefit changes.

“The full impact of Welfare Reform is yet to be felt, with major changes to Disability Living Allowance still to be fully implemented and Universal Credit’s roll out date unknown. Tenants are still coming to terms with the ‘bedroom tax’ and many people are confused about the changes still to come. Our residents need support to help them cope and this major funding boost will compliment the hard work already done by our Advice Works team and the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

“My congratulations go to our third sector partners for their hard work in securing these funding bids as this money will go a long way in getting help, advice and support to those members of Renfrewshire’s community who need it the most.”

Summary of the awards and what will be delivered:

1) Big Lottery Support and Connect: £306,000 awarded for a project led by Federation of Local Associations in Renfrewshire (FLAIR). It will create seven posts to help tenants facing hardship. It will offer support on energy efficiency, specialist welfare advice, develop financial skills, and give information on using savings accounts, credit unions and accessing affordable loans.

2) SLAB Making Advice Work: £115,476 to help Disability Living Award (DLA) claimants with the change to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). One income adviser post will be created in Advice Works; and two posts will be created in Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to increase welfare rights capacity.

3) SLAB Making Advice Work: £112,818 to target support to tenants affected by Under Occupancy Rules (‘bedroom tax’). Two adviser posts will be based in FLAIR; and one money adviser will be based in the council’s Housing Service.

4) SLAB Making Advice Work: £144,602 to target financial advice to people with mental health or addiction issues. One financial literacy worker will be based in RAMH (Recovery Across Mental Health); and two income advisers will be based in Advice Works, working with addiction services.

www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

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Renfrewshire Council nominated at national apprentice awards

Renfrewshire Council nominated at national apprentice awards

A council scheme to introduce young people to the world of work is one of a string of local individuals and organisations to be nominated for prestigious national honours.

The shortlist for Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship Awards 2013 sees Renfrewshire Council listed as a finalist in the Public Sector Employer category, in recognition of the council’s highly-regarded modern apprenticeship scheme.

Angela Wilson

Renfrewshire Council employee Angela Wilson is a finalist in the Apprentice Champion category, for former apprentices who have continued to make exceptional achievements and promote the scheme.

Angela completed her modern apprenticeship in 2012, before moving into a job with the council’s youth employment team.

And the event could be a big celebration for the area, with two other individuals and two companies from Renfrewshire also nominated.

The companies are Cairellot Nursery of Bishopton (SME Employer category) and Scottish Leather Group of Bridge of Weir (Large Employer).

The individuals are Sean McBride, from Renfrew, and Neil Stewart of Bishopton. Both are on the shortlist for the Apprentice of the Year – Technical and Professional award.

The awards are run by Skills Development Scotland and will take place on 13 November at Glasgow Science Centre.

Other good news is that another council apprentice, Ryan Finnigan, has been named as a finalist in the Candidate of the Year category of the SQA Star Awards 2013.

Councillor Roy Glen, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Economy and Jobs Policy Board, said: “These nominations are testament to the quality of the council’s modern apprentice scheme, which has earned itself a good reputation over the years.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to all involved in the scheme, and to Angela and Ryan – who have been shinings example to other apprentices.

“It is also great to see so many other Renfrewshire companies and individuals make it on the shortlist for the Modern Apprenticeship Awards.

“Several of the firms involved have worked closely with the council through our Invest in Renfrewshire programme, which aims to boost the local economy and tackle youth unemployment.

“For six of the 29 nominees at a Scotland-wide awards ceremony to be from Renfrewshire is a tribute to the quality of the workplace-based training schemes we have here.”

A modern apprenticeship allows a young person aged between 16 and 19 to pick up on-the-job experience while studying for a vocational qualification.

Renfrewshire Council offers modern apprenticeships in both office and craft-based environments, covering disciplines such as construction, horticulture, vehicle maintenance and many more.

For more info about the scheme, visit the council’s website or call 0141 618 7277.

The council recently agreed to make available an extra £200,000 to create 40 new apprenticeships through the Invest in Renfrewshire programme.