Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has provided his backing to a local charity who is campaigning to see an end to disability hate crime.

I Am Me was set-up in Renfrewshire in 2012, and since then has grown significantly to help tackle disability hate crime. Their work to raise awareness of prejudiced based attitudes and behaviours has seen them recently develop an app which provides help to those vulnerable individuals who are facing discrimination.


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


“It was a great pleasure to meet with Carol and Debbie from I Am Me Scotland to learn about their fantastic work to tackle disability hate crime. This is a relatively new charity and I’m amazed at how far they’ve come in short space of time.


“62,000 hate crimes are committed against disabled people each year in the UK and the overwhelming majority of this goes unreported. This is a serious problem and we need inspiring and innovative work like what is carried out by the team at I Am Me Scotland.


“Their Keep Safe app – which has been supported by Renfrewshire Council, Police Scotland and others – will provide assistance to those disabled individuals who are requiring a safe space.

“It’s important that we continue to support charities like I Am Me to ensure that we can live in a society where the most vulnerable are free from abuse.”


Carol Burt, Project Manager at I Am Me Scotland, said:


“Disability Hate Crime remains one of the most under reported crimes in the UK and we are working with disabled people, young people and the wider community to raise awareness of the impact that incidents can have and the importance of reporting.


“Keep Safe is an award winning partnership with Police Scotland that works directly with businesses and community groups to create a network of ‘Keep Safe’ places for people to seek support if they are lost, scared, vulnerable or they have been a victim of crime. The Keep Safe Scotland app can be downloaded free from iOS and Android.

Two of Paisley town centre’s much-loved buildings are now off the national Buildings At Risk Register (BARR) thanks to their successful restorations.

The category A-listed Russell Institute and category B former Arnott’s store have both been removed from the register alongside the flats and ground floor shop at 14 Moss Street that have been restored by the owner and part funded by Renfrewshire Council’s Retail Improvement Grant.


RDC Council Leader Walkabout 14.7.17


Works on the former Hawkhead Hospital site will also see various listed buildings being renovated as homes, including the category A and B listed wards seven and eight.

There is even more good news as the second Townscape Heritage/Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (TH/CARS2) at the top of Paisley’s High Street – funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and Renfrewshire Council – has three buildings deemed at risk that have been identified as potential priority projects.

The renovation works are expected to run until 2021 and will make significant changes to the look and feel of the area as part of plans to create a warm welcome for visitors that supports Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

A total of 43 out of the 564 listed properties across Renfrewshire are currently on Buildings At Risk Register, including five that have restoration works in progress, four that have been granted planning permission, nine that will be targeted in the TH/CARS2 and three that are part of the wider masterplan.

The Council has taken a proactive approach to working with property owners of buildings at risk of becoming vacant, helping owners to find support early on and identifying those that need to be added to the national register.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener of Communities, Housing and Planning, Councillor Marie McGurk, said: “Renfrewshire has a wealth of beautiful buildings and as part of wider regeneration plans for the area, we are working proactively with property owners to restore and bring their properties back into use.

“The successful restoration of the Russell Institute building and the renovation of the former Arnott’s store are two significant examples of bringing back heritage buildings into modern day use. Whether listed or unlisted, there are a number of positive restorations and repairs taking place across the area that will improve the condition of these buildings and see them being used as homes, office space or other facilities.

“As Paisley prepares to submit its final bid to the UK Government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the end of September, it’s great to see our restored heritage buildings shining a light on the town and showing us the investment in infrastructure that lies ahead as part of a year of culture.”

Tango dance enthusiasts from across the UK and beyond visited Paisley at the weekend to take part in the first ever Paisley International Tango Festival.

Paisley International Tango Festival 26.8.17 Diego (El Pajaro) Reimer and Natalia Cristobal Rive

The festival which took place at the Coats Memorial Church from Fri 25 – Sun 27 August saw hundreds of people come along to learn new moves and see the experts in action. The event attracted dance fans from across Scotland, England, Germany, Spain and even as far away as Queensland.

The Paisley International Tango Festival was funded through Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund (CHEF). It also shows the range of cultural activities taking place throughout the town as part of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Over the course of the weekend local people were invited to come along and take part in free taster tango classes. There was also a series of masterclasses and workshops which took place.

The centrepiece to this fantastic event was the Grand Milonga, an Argentinian social dance, on Saturday evening which featured world renowned tango music performer Juango Lopez Vidal and Orquesta Tipica – an international ensemble band working with members of Scotland’s highly regarded McFalls Chamber Orchestra.

The event was organised by Drew Moir who has been teaching argentine tango for six years and was delighted by the response to this event which is the first of its kind in the town.

He said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve had such overwhelming support for the event not just in Paisley but from the whole of Scotland. People have come from Europe, America and even Australia to visit the festival and it’s given them a great excuse to visit Paisley and Scotland. It’s great to be able to show that Paisley can host international events like this.”

The Culture Heritage and Events Fund enabled Drew to bring internationally renowned tango dancers to Paisley to deliver masterclass workshops and inspire the crowds. The instructors travelled to the town from as far afield as New York, Paris, Lyon, Russia and Australia to share their talents.

Bid Director for Paisley 2021, Jean Cameron, said: “It’s fantastc to see yet another great festival come to Paisley which attracted such world-class talent to the area as well as hundreds of visitors.

“The festival was so vibrant and fun and was a real celebration of dance. Paisley has a great relationship with dance, we are above the Scottish national average in terms of uptake in dance, so I’m sure tango will be another art form that people from Paisley and the surrounding areas will be keen to explore and learn more about.”

Drew is hoping to turn the Paisley International Tango Festival into an annual event following its success.

Renfrew residents joined Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron on a historic trip down the River Clyde to preserve the town’s fishing rights on the river.

The boat set sail from Braehead Pier and travelled down the Clyde to the mouth of the River Leven.

There, Provost Cameron carried out the traditional act of casting the nets to retain the rights of salmon fishing on the Clyde.

While on board, guests were treated to a film about the history of salmon fishing on the Clyde as well as an enthralling talk by marine biologist Dr William Yeomans.

Provost Cameron said: “This historic tradition is one which I am proud to keep alive for the people of Renfrew.

“The casting of the nets has become a key part of the town’s history and it is important that we give it the status it deserves.

“It was a terrific day for the residents to experience and I look forward to repeating the ritual in three years time.”

The custom goes back as far as 1781 when the town failed to carry out the practice and lost the right to fish on parts of the Clyde as a result.

King Robert III had granted a charter to the community of Renfrew detailing the right to fish the River Clyde as far back as 1396.

However Renfrew Town Council failed to keep the rights on parts of the river owned by Sir Michael Stewart because they hadn’t fished those areas for some years.

Ever since they were regained, it has become practice to maintain the rights by having the Provost cast the nets into the river every three years.

The fishing equipment used on the day was kindly donated by Hooked on Fishing.

Ageing populations and the correlated increasing levels of chronic ill-health will require tomorrow – if not already today – an enhanced approach to home care. In light of this, a transnational Erasmus research project ‘Carevolution’ has been launched in February 2016 to examine the future role, responsibilities and qualifications of home care workers across Europe. Partners from Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Scotland involved in this project have stressed the need to develop a community approach where patients are more actively involved in the management of their health care.

West College Scotland played host to the project’s third meeting at the College’s Clydebank campus in October 2016

Now reaching completion, ‘Carevolution’ has led to the development of a new curriculum and qualification for enhanced home carers. West College Scotland has brought its expertise and experience to devise the training curriculum and learning material. Between February and June 2017, these were piloted in Scotland, Spain and the Netherlands.  The new curriculum has now been approved by international partners. In Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has approved the development of a new Professional Development Awards (PDA) in Enhanced Home Care Practice using the material produced during the project.

West College Scotland Head of Care Davina Coupar said: “The research project gave us a real insight into Home Care practice across Europe.  The College and staff have enjoyed the opportunity to participate and we’re very pleased to have been instrumental in offering a new product to our home and wider European market.”

To find out more about the project, visit and follow @carevolution_p on Twitter.

Many hands made light work at the weekend as volunteers joined together to take part in a community litter pick.

Councillor Cathy McEwan and volunteers at the litter pick

Volunteers visited East End Park in Paisley to give the area a refresh and make the park an inviting place for the local community to visit.

Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, Councillor Cathy McEwan and Rebecca Livesey-Wright, Arts Project Facilitator

The litter pick, organised by RIG Arts, comes ahead of a campaign which will deliver a series of improvements to Renfrewshire’s environment as part of a £250,000 investment.

Councillor McEwan and volunteers get to work

The campaign will deliver a programme of increased operational activities as part of an initial environmental clean-up including improvements to roads signage, increased mechanical sweeping and gulley cleaning, a highly visible litter picking presence and Rapid Response Teams working across Renfrewshire.

Councillor McEwan and volunteers get to work

It will also aim to engage the local community to join together to create a feeling of civic pride within their area and ask that everyone takes on some responsibility to keep Renfrewshire clean.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, was there to get her hands dirty and join community members in the clean up.

Councillor McEwan said: “It’s fantastic to see the local community turn out in numbers to take part in this clean up and the park is looking great after their efforts.

“It was made clear by residents that improving the cleanliness of Renfrewshire’s streets was a key issue for them and the Council is investing a quarter of a million pounds to address this and improve the environmental standards across Renfrewshire.

“We want to engage the community to work alongside us and take pride in their area as we aim to make Renfrewshire a place people want to live, work, visit and invest in.”

RIG Arts are a socially engaged arts charity based in Greenock, which develops and facilitates a range of community arts projects within schools, their studio, community art flats and beyond.

They are running the SUGaR (Seedhill Urban Growing and Regeneration) project in collaboration with YES (Young Enterprise Scotland) and in partnership with the Williamsburgh Housing Association, funded by the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Rebecca Livesey-Wright, Arts Project Facilitator, said: “RIG Arts are really excited to be working in a new area with a fresh community.

“We’ve been so impressed be the enthusiasm and knowledge of the local people and look forward to developing the SUGaR project with them.”

RIG Arts and YES will be working with the local community and Williamsburgh Housing Association until March 2018 to deliver 8 litter picks, 4 swap shops, 4 upcycling workshops and 4 community events as well as food growing opportunities.

The project aims to increase the community’s understanding of waste and promote improved eco-friendly behaviours.


paisley pirates

Paisley Pirates are back on the ice after enjoying a long summer break, following their SNL Championship success which saw them lift the League trophy away back in February.

paisley pirates

“Yes, it seems an awful long time ago since we celebrated winning that particular trophy,” commented coach Ian Turley, “but that’s maybe not such a bad thing, as while we will be defending league champions that will count for nothing this season, apart from maybe encouraging opponents to try and down us. It’s time to forget about what we did and concentrate on what we need to be doing this season.”

“We had a good trial come training session last week which let us look at a few guys as well as those who were with last year, and there’s still time for anyone wanting to try out for us as we’ve got another session tomorrow (Tuesday) and on Friday, all potential players need to do is let us know that they want to come along.”

He continued, “We’ve also had a few foreign players in contact with us looking to try out so we’ll see what happens on that front over the next wee while, if any of them follow up their initial enquiries. Like I say, there’s still time for potential new signings to come to a trial/practice and let us see what they’ve got, but I wouldn’t want them to be waiting too much longer before getting on the ice.”

“We’ve also made an important off-ice appointment by bringing on board one of our main sponsors, Steven Gardner from Cold Blooded Sports, as Equipment Manager and he’ll be on the bench with us on match nights. It’s important to have someone in that position who is an expert in his field and in that context we couldn’t have anyone better than Steven, who as a recreational hockey player and someone who retails equipment as his real job, certainly ticks all the boxes in that respect. We’re delighted to have him with us and it’s just one more illustration of the fact that while the Paisley Pirates might be an amateur club, anyone coming to play with us will be joining one of the most professional organisations around.”

The ‘Porridge Bowl’, unique gargoyles and the home of Robert Burns’ compatriot are just a few of the intriguing sights and locations visitors to Renfrewshire can experience next weekend.

Paisley Abbey

Part of a worldwide event with over 50 countries taking part, Renfrewshire Doors Open Days is a celebration of the fantastic architecture and significant history of the region.

On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September, everyone will have the opportunity to experience a weekend of exploration around Renfrewshire as many venues not normally accessible to the public open their doors for a look inside.

Alison Christie with children at the Sma’ Shot Cottages

On Saturday, the home of Robert Tannahill, the ‘Weaver Poet’ who formed a close relationship with Robert Burns, will be open for visitors to see the extraordinary collection of memorabilia on display at what is now the home to one of the oldest Burns Clubs in the world.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to look inside the John Neilson Institute which, due to its distinctive roof, is nicknamed the Porridge Bowl and has become a distinct feature of Paisley’s skyline.

Sunday will see the Renfrew Victory Baths welcome visitors in on a guided tour of the striking Edwardian swimming pool  which was awarded Grade ‘B’ listed status in 1971, while Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch will offer tours of the lookout tower giving visitors to take in the spectacular views of the loch and Garnock Valley.

After the news Paisley has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2021, its High St location will open its doors on both days to give everyone a chance to find out more about what the bid means for the area, what it could do for you and what’s still to come in the next few months.

More than 50 buildings and locations will be open for the public across the weekend ensuring there is something to peak everyone’s interest.

Kids can collect their own Doors Open Days passport from participating buildings and Renfrewshire’s libraries which they can fill up over the weekend with stamps.

Collecting five stamps will see them rewarded with a certificate and a gift in yet another reason to get involved.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron will be joining members of the public in exploring the area and can’t wait to see what she discovers.

Provost Cameron said: “We are extremely fortunate to have so many beautiful, historic buildings in Renfrewshire but it is not often that we take the time to visit them.

“Venues from across the area will open their doors to let us inside next weekend and I can’t wait to take up the opportunity.

“I will be at the Council chambers from 10am until midday so I’d be delighted to see you while I’m also looking forward to visiting the Sma’ Shot Cottages as it is always fascinating to hear the volunteers speak on the history of the weavers.

“So if you’ve always meant to visit Paisley Abbey, or never had the time to walk around Castle Semple, this weekend is the perfect opportunity so don’t miss out and visit as many locations as you can.”

The Renfrewshire Doors Open Day programme is available from all Renfrewshire libraries.

An online version can be downloaded from

For a look forward to what’s coming up across Renfrewshire visit or

mhari black
The UN committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities met with UK government officials over a two day period recently. The chair of the committee has slammed the welfare cuts to disabled people as a “human catastrophe”.
The austerity measures that have been implemented by the UK government since 2010 have had an impact on welfare benefits and since 2010 many people in receipt of disability benefits such as PIP, ESA and DLA have seen the standard of living they experience fall drastically. The committee have previously criticised the UK government for targeting disabled people with schemes such as the bedroom tax, the work programme and the benefit cap.
mhari black
Local MP Mhairi Black has praised the comments of the committee and said “this is yet another example that the austerity agenda the tories are inflicting on disabled people does not work”
“They target society’s most vulnerable with cut after cut while spending ridiculous amounts of money on things such as trident and repairing palaces, common sense would tell you that reducing disabled people’s standard of living is the wrong way for the UK treasury to balance the books”
“disabled people need support and the UK conservative government have proved they are incapable of providing it”
paisley from drone

Heating in a modern home can come from a variety of sources and there is now a myriad of different technologies that come together to comprise a modern heating system. We now have more ways than ever to generate heat, from renewables, such as wind and solar, as well as more conventional sources such as electricity generated from the burning of fossil fuels.

Many old buildings were designed when a fireplace was the only real way of heating a building. As such, the design prioritises insulation, although insulation, as it was many years ago, is very different to how it is now.

Whether they are homes or stately manors, many old buildings now require heating. Some are retrofitted with the latest technology, but others are so old that to fit new technology would be prohibitively expensive. Other buildings are listed as protected and as such cannot be modified. Below are some words of advice from experts on how to approach heating older buildings.

Begin with the Simplest Solutions

Before you start thinking about a big, expensive heating upgrade, you should first take some basic, simple steps to insulate your home and improve its heat trapping efficiency. Fit draught excluders to letterboxes and to the bottom of any outside doors. Replacing curtains with new ones made from a heavier material will help to increase the efficiency of the building’s insulation. Where you have radiators ensure, that there isn’t furniture placed in front of them; if you have a sofa in front of your radiator then the only thing you’re going to be heating is that back of the sofa! If you have noticeable gaps in any walls, whether they face the outside world or not, you should fill these in using an appropriate method.

Start Off Cheap and Easy

This is particularly important if preserving the aesthetic qualities of the building is important to you. Following the simplest steps outlined above means you will then have eliminated the most common causes of heating problems in old buildings. After this, you should build up slowly and surely. There is no sense jumping straight for retrofitting an expensive, modern system before you know if something as simple as double glazing will do the job.


If you come to the conclusion that some modern upgrades are necessary, then you should continue to approach it cautiously. Make one improvement at a time and assess the effectiveness before spending more. Selecting the right kind of radiator, for example, is important. If you have never attempted anything like this before, you might not know the difference between flat radiators and bench radiators. If you know someone who has experience renovating houses, consult with them. If you know anyone who has specifically worked with older buildings, then you should definitely consult them. Some buildings will require you to obtain permission before you are allowed to carry out any major modifications, so check with your local authority first.

Modernising the heating in an old building presents a unique challenge for home renovators, but is a worthwhile undertaking that will increase your knowledge of modern insulation and heating, as well as giving you a chance to make an old building even more homely.

paisley 2021

The body representing Scottish councils has backed Scotland’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) gave its backing to the Paisley 2021 bid at its latest leaders meeting on Friday 25 August.

Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), aims to use the power of culture to transform people’s lives by creating opportunities for those who live and work in the town as well as in the surrounding areas.

The bid is part of wider plans to help transform the town’s future using its unique heritage and cultural story.

A successful Paisley 2021 bid is expected to generate 4,700 jobs in the area alongside an £172 million economic boost to Renfrewshire over the next ten years. The bid could deliver around 1.7 million attendances at events creating a significant increase in footfall for local traders. It will also attract major infrastructure investment as the current title holders Hull have reported £1 billion of investment from 2013 – 2017.

COSLA President Councillor, Alison Evison, said:  “We’re delighted to be able to support Paisley as Scotland’s bid in the competition for UK City of Culture 2021. The local engagement and energy this has generated, driven by Renfrewshire Council, is a fantastic example of how local government can work hand in glove with communities and local partners for the long term benefit of an area.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader, Iain Nicolson, chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board said: “Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 continues to gather pace and COSLA’s support demonstrates that it really is Scotland’s bid.

“Winning the title would provide a massive boost to the town and our wider plans. In the long term it would create thousands of new jobs, and allow us to attract massive investment and build a new town centre economy with tourism and creativity at its heart.

“It is great to see Paisley’s bid continue to be embraced across Scotland.”

Paisley is one of five bidders shortlisted for the competition which also includes Coventry, Sunderland, Stoke-on-Trent and Swansea.

The final bid will be submitted at the end of September followed by a judges’ visit in October. The winner will be announced in December.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has met with the Renfrewshire Foodbank to find out about the current levels of demand for this lifeline service.

Gavin Newlands MP with Elizabeth Alexander, Ewan Gurr and Laura Ferguson

Mr Newlands met with Elizabeth Alexander, Project Manager of the Renfrewshire Foodbank, as well as Trusell Trust staff members, Ewan Gurr and Laura Ferguson, and was shocked to learn that the Renfrewshire Foodbank is the sixth busiest in Scotland.

Mr Newlands constituency office at 6 Porterfield, Renfrew serves as a drop-off point for the local foodbank centre, allowing people to drop-in donations.

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

“I have always has a strong relationship with the Renfrewshire Foodbank due to the fact that my office serves as a drop-off point for those wanting to make a donation to the local centre, and it was good to catch-up to discuss the underlying reasons for foodbank use.

“It is deeply disappointing to learn that the Renfrewshire Foodbank is the sixth busiest in Scotland, and it’s evident that the Tories Welfare Reform agenda is the root and cause of this problem.

“The staff and volunteers at the Renfrewshire Foodbank deserve fantastic credit for their commitment to help others. As the local MP, I will continue to support the Renfrewshire Foodbank at every opportunity, but I will also continue to challenge the Tories’ cuts to welfare which is forcing more families, including many who have a parent in-work, to have to rely on foodbanks.