Updates to our blogs

The Open University

Call in for an informal discussion about courses, learning methods and other general study topics.

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Event Details Wednesday 25th May 2016, 14:00 – 16:00

West College Scotland Ferguslie Learning Centre 10 Falcon Cresent,

Find out more

Call: 0141 842 1015 Kathleen Brown, Kathleen.brown@wcs.ac.uk

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Have you been squirrelling away your savings and furnishing your (imaginary) home with all of your favourite things? If so, you’re in the same boat as pretty much every other first-time buyer in the UK! But (as you’re no doubt beginning to realise) getting on the property market isn’t as straightforward as finding a house you like and filling in a form at the bank…

Here’s a brief overview of everything you need to know, complete with helpful links and resources to give you a deeper understanding of what you’re signing up for.

Types of property

The UK property market has a lot to offer a first-time buyer. Whether you’re leaning towards the idea of a characterful cottage in the countryside or a modern flat in the city, you won’t be short of options.

However, you might find it easier to secure a mortgage or take advantage of a  help to buy scheme for new houses on a suburban estate. New builds (rather than older homes) tend to be available with help to buy schemes, and many shared ownership schemes are available on modern properties as opposed to older ones.

How to get your funds together
While Barclays is offering a 100% mortgage, the overwhelming majority of lenders will expect you to put down a deposit. Generally, you’ll need to save anywhere from 5% to 20% of the purchase price of the property, though the bigger your deposit, the better the deal you’ll be able to secure.

You should consider taking advantage of shared ownership schemes, help to buy schemes and the government’s Help to Buy ISA. It’s also very common for first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder with help from family members, so it might also be worth talking to your parents or grandparents to see if there’s a chance of a gift or a loan.

Looking beyond the mortgage

It’s not just the cost of the mortgage that you’ll need to manage. For one thing, you’ll need to decide whether your other financial commitments are well-aligned with buying a property, taking into consideration any lingering student loans, personal debts and lifestyle expenses.

Secondly, you’ll need to make sure that you have funds to support the other costs of buying a home. Typically, these include a mortgage arrangement and valuation fee, stamp duty fees, solicitor’s fees, survey costs, removal costs, insurance costs and decorating costs.

Finally, running a home is expensive, and you’ll need to be comfortable with the fact that you’ll be responsible for repairs and maintenance, as well as regular expenses such as utility bills, council tax and TV/Wi-Fi packages. A mortgage provider will help you to ‘stress test’ your finances to check you can handle owning a property, but you’ll well advised to do your own calculations first and give yourself an opportunity to adjust your income and outgoings accordingly.

If you’d like a really in depth guide to the property market, consider contacting the Citizens Advice Service for impartial advice. There’s a wealth of information available on Google and on television too, so get swotting if you want to be in with a chance of securing the property of your dreams. Good luck!

Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 ambitions had a resounding public show of support at the launch of a new drive to let everyone connected to the town take their place at the heart of the bid.

Here are some photographs taken on Thursday of the launch for the brand book. To download a full version of the brand book including usable marketing material, logos and information about the bid, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk/get-involved

Many thanks to David Weir of Paisley.org.uk for taking the photographs.

CHAMPION VETS IN PAISLEY ARE PROUD TO LAUNCH THEIR NEW PUPPY PACKS TO SUIT EVERYONE’S BUDGET

Getting a new pet is extremely exciting and providing you care for your companion correctly, they could go on to become one of the best friends you have. However, just like a baby human, it’s important you provide your young animal with everything they need early on in life to help them grow into a healthy and happy adult.

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Champion Vets in Kilnside Road first launched their now famous Puppy Packs in Paisley in 2003 and (as far as they are aware) were the first vets in Scotland to do so. Their purpose has been to encourage new puppy owners to develop excellent habits of preventative care when looking after their new puppies into adulthood, with the aim that this continues through the lifetime of their pet. This includes the correct vaccinations, worming and flea treatments, optimal nutritional advice, regular check-ups with a professional and careful consideration given to neutering.

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Champion Vets wish to make people aware of the re-launch of their Puppy Packs this May in two forms to suit everyone’s budget. The Deluxe Puppy Pack is similar to the original one, but with more services and greater discounts included – such as the inclusion of kennel cough vaccine and a 10% discount on neutering. It costs just £97.50 – now better value incidentally than the original has been since 2003!

The Value Puppy Pack still contains the essential elements of puppy care without the frills and is priced at £49.95 representing outstanding value for money’ although you may find you will have to pay for some additional treatments if required.

So please speak to Dianne at Champion Vets if you are looking forward to a new canine addition to your family. Our number is 0141 889 7638. Check out the full details of the Puppy Packs at  www.championvet.com/special-offers and scroll down.

Creating a successful website requires research and careful planning to make it not only visually attractive to prospective customers but a magnet to which search engines are drawn. Here at Kaburu, we aim to make the entire process as pain-free and simple as possible.

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1. Planning

The strategy is the key to success. We ask our clients questions to ensure we identify the scope and scale of the project. Knowing the goals set by our clients, the age, and gender of the anticipated target audience, and the range and style of product to be marketed, we produce a development timeline. From this blueprint, we plan a site map and wireframes and determine the best website navigation system, ready for the next stage.

2. Design

Promoting the brand is an all-important factor in website design for businesses. Brand perception alone can increase site traffic, so a distinctive logo and colour scheme need to be established to appeal to the target audience. In consultation with the client, our designers will build and integrate a skeleton website, ready for the development phase.

3. Development

The aim at the development stage is to maximise the functionality of the website by filling in the body of the skeleton. This is achieved by building the HTML and CSS aspects within the website to increase access to as wide an audience as possible. Any previous web material for the client can be refined at this stage and added to new content, together with videos, slideshows, graphics and podcasts, if needed.

4. Testing

This is the critical phase, where the embryonic website is uploaded on to an internal production server prior to being launched. Any issues which arise at this stage can be addressed, with coding checked to ensure full functionality across major web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. The ability to access the website on multiple devices is also checked.

5. Launch

At this stage, the website is deemed fully functional, with all files ready for uploading on to the server. The client’s domain name is registered and web hosting facilities are in place. Plugins to enable WordPress and SEO functionality are installed, and a final review is undertaken just prior to launch. The website is now live and it is time to implement a maintenance schedule.

6. Support

The internet is not a static entity: it is dynamic and changing constantly. Websites need regular maintenance to maximise SEO. Adding new and revising old content, installing additional plugins and regular upgrading is needed to maintain high search engine rankings.

We can implement a maintenance schedule on your behalf, leaving you to enjoy the benefits of a successful website, designed by the experts from Kaburu.

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Finance options for local Christian organisations

Having a wide selection of finance options for local Christian organisations is important due to many organisations having to rely on donations and the generosity of others in order to continue to fund the organisation. There are many companies that offer good finance options for local Christian organisations, and due to them mainly being Christian-based companies themselves, they are likely to see past the financial side and also look at the social and religious benefits of providing finance for local Christian organisations. For example, services from Stewardship, a company that are committed to helping the Christian community in the UK, aim to maximise the effectiveness of Christian giving, and to inspire greater generosity. The best finance options for local Christian organisations are often through qualified professionals that have been serving churches, charities and more for many years and have knowledge of the services that are vital to becoming a successful local Christian organisation.

The best finance options, whether it is a mortgage, loan or other form of finance, should be through a company that shares the same values as the Christian organisation. Many Christian focussed organisations facilitate effective giving and promote biblical principles and practices. This is important as it can provide insightful advice as they are knowledgeable about the type of work that local Christian organisations want to carry out. These types of organisations are well placed to help Christian organisations understand legal requirements and the best practice principles that are not only important financially, but are also in line with the views and values of the organisation.

Local Christian organisations play a vital role in the community and draw together different members of society. Choosing the best finance options, whether you’re looking to build, expand, remodel or refinance, is an important step in growing ministries, facilities and making a difference to local communities. Choosing finance options that understand the constant change that is a part of the growth of local Christian organisations, and choosing lending companies that offer a blend of faith, finances and generosity is important in ensuring that the finance options are the right choice for the organisation.

Many Christian focussed lenders are likely to offer the best finance options for local Christian organisations, because of their knowledge and commitment to strengthening Christian communities. Companies that exclusively lend to Christian organisations, churches and charities are most likely to offer the best finance options due to their own Christian values of generosity, relationship and integrity. Lenders that focus on this are also more likely to provide flexible options for the future as they will understand the challenges that local Christian organisations are likely to face when it comes to maintaining and running their organisation. Lenders that specialise in Christian organisations are also likely to be able to customise any finance options due to their understanding that all local Christian organisations are unique in the way they run and who they attract.

Many Christian-focussed lenders also offer support programmes that help organisations to understand the finance options as well as strengthening Christian causes by offering practical, tailored support. This is equally important, as professional help that is in line with the values of the organisation and offered by a lender that understands and is supportive of the role the local Christian organisation may have, is more likely to ensure that the organisation succeeds in its purpose and is successful in its repayments, rather than being solely focussed on getting the money back.

With a range of finance options available for local Christian organisations, particularly from lenders that share the same values, it is easier than ever to continue to share the word of God and Christian practices. Joining communities together and providing a safe haven for those who follow Jesus and the Bible, the transformational work of Christian organisations is now being enthusiastically supported by Christian focussed lenders, who understand the challenges that local organisations face, and can customise their finance options to suit those who need it. These lenders are consistently providing support for those who support the communities around them.

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St Mirren have not threatened to be more than a mid-table side during the 2015/16 season, but the upturn of fortunes since the arrival of new manager Alex Rae at the end of last year has given fans cause for optimism ahead of a new campaign. The Buddies have won nine of the 18 games in the Championship since Rae took charge, while talented young midfielder Stevie Mallan has showcased the form that earned him a call up to the Scottish national side, with 14 goals in all competitions.

In another boost to the club, the situation off the pitch also appears to be improving as supporters moved a step closer to taking a majority ownership via a subscription scheme. Lifelong Saints fan Gordon Scott and the St Mirren Independent Supporters Association (SMISA) have had a joint offer accepted in principle, which will see ex-director Scott paying a bulk sum of around £1 million. Around 1,000 fans will then need to pay £12 a month via the loan scheme. The Buddies have been up for sale for seven years, so a conclusion to the long-running saga will surely aid a bid for promotion next season.

Mallan has been the star performer this year, and he has been ably supported by the likes of Jamie Langfield, Rocco Quinn and Andy Webster, who could all form the spine of a potentially successful team in 2016/17. However, there will be need to be further additions to the squad in order to strengthen it as the Championship is likely to be hotly contested and more competitive during the next 12 months. The Saints are likely to look for a proven goal scorer to take the pressure off Mallan and replace Lawrence Shankland, who is set to return to Aberdeen when his loan spell ends.

St Mirren will also have to fill the void left by Steven Thompson. The 37-year-old captain and forward revealed in early April that he would finally be hanging up his boots after an illustrious playing career, which included a League Cup final victory with the Buddies back in 2013. Alex Rae has revealed that plans to recruit players are now taking shape after the team’s safety was secured, adding that it was important to “bring in the right types” in order to take the club forward. The former Wolves and Sunderland midfielder also hinted that certain deals for players at the club could be agreed during the next month, ahead of the summer recruiting campaign.

St Mirren fans are cautiously optimistic about their team’s chances for 2016/17, but their chances to sustain a promotion push will largely be down to Rae’s ability to successfully oversee a major overhaul of the current playing squad on a tight budget while retaining the club’s brightest prospects and influential performers. However, Leicester City’s fairytale run to Premier League glory this season should give hope to all clubs in England and Scotland that success may never be too far away.

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We always knew we were lucky to live in Scotland, but now we have solid evidence from the National Lottery. Since its founding in 1994, the UK National Lottery has created over 4,000 new millionaires and it turns out that Scottish lottery players have had their fair share of extraordinary wins.

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From November 1994 to February 2016, 341 of those National Lottery millionaires have hailed from Scotland. Whilst not the region with the highest amount of winners – London has the most lottery millionaires — that Scottish number is staggering in terms of its population. On top of the millionaires, another 2,824 tickets have garnered a prize worth £50,000 or more since 1994.

Northern Ireland has the lowest amount of lotto millionaires at 81, with London leading the pack with a staggering 569 millionaires. The Midlands and the South East rounded out the top three at 505 and 438 winners respectively.

The National Lottery surveyed the whole of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England and the total number of lottery millionaires living in those areas came to just under 3,700. How is that possible if the National Lottery has created many more millionaires than that over the past two decades?

One reason is that Guernsey nor the Isle of Man was surveyed and some winners have come from these areas. However the larger reason is that a lottery player doesn’t have to live in the UK to participate in National Lottery games. Tourists can purchase tickets whilst on holiday in Edinburgh, London or elsewhere and are able to win like any other player.

Online lottery ticket purchasing services such as theLotter also make it easy for foreigners to play UK lottery games. It may ruffle a few locals’ feathers when a foreigner wins a huge jackpot, but it works both ways. Scottish lottery enthusiasts can use these online services to play and win games outside the UK.

And there must be a great many lottery enthusiasts in Scotland because they have made a huge impact on National Lottery history. Chris and Colin Weir, a couple from Largs, Ayrshire, took home an historic £161.6 million EuroMillions jackpot in July 2011, the largest jackpot ever won in Europe. Since their win, the Weirs continue to make history with their charitable trust. The Weir Charitable Trust’s motto is “helping the Scottish community”. Many charities and projects throughout Scotland have been funded by the trust. The husband and wife pair have also donated large sums of money to the Yes Scotland campaign and the SNP.

Yet another lottery record was broken by a Scottish husband and wife duo on 9 January 2016. David and Carol Martin from Scottish Borders bought one of two winning tickets for the record-setting £66 million UK Lotto draw. With their new £33 million fortune, the couple have a lot of financial decisions to make, though they’ve hinted that they will be using some of the money to help their neighbours in need, just as the Weirs have done.

Paisley has yet to break any records, but we do have a few National Lottery millionaires of our own. Back in 2014, the National Lottery celebrated 20 years since its foundation. Upon this occasion, it was revealed that 17 lotto millionaires come from the Paisley area alone, out of a total of over 4,000. Besides, 50 ticket holders from the Paisley area scooped 50 prizes of £50,000 each. Although not all stories had a happy ending, the luck of the Scottish lottery player is not negligible.

The town of Paisley itself is a National Lottery winner, being one of the 13 towns and cities to benefit from a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The restoration project helped Paisley town preserve its architectural heritage for future generations and made the Causeyside Street and Forbes Place areas more enjoyable for inhabitants, business owners and tourists. Hopefully, the revamped historical center will speak in the town’s favor and will improve Paisley’s odds to win the bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

To achieve high search engine rankings, a website has to undergo almost constant updating and maintenance from the day it goes live on the internet. Rather than resting on your laurels once your website is up and running, Kaburu recommends the immediate establishment of a proactive management system to ensure the site is attracting visitors. The reason is simple: an inactive website begins to be backtracked by search engines as soon as it is dormant, even for a day.

1. SEO

Search engine optimisation is the marketing tool of the internet. Webmasters of successful websites ensure keywords and phrases are embedded in text and graphics to allow search engines to track and record their presence. This maintains a ranking on the search engine’s results page: the higher ranked sites are the ones kept up to date and active when customers search online for information about products and services.

Our need to be constantly tweaked to ensure high rankings are maintained in search engines. Adding relevant content on an almost daily basis is needed, but this does not have to be always in the form of news sections, blog writing or graphics as creating hyperlinks or adding plugins count as updating activities with search engines.

2. Updating blogs

Blog writing is an excellent way of adding quality content to a website. Incorporating keywords and phrases enhance search engine rankings and increase site visits. A blog can be more than a journal as the subjects can be wide ranging, giving information and advice to customers, as well as answering questions raised and showing your business cares about its products and services. Every blog added to the website content registers activity on search engines and should be seen as a convenient way of boosting your ranking.

3. Updating your portfolio

Keeping an up to date portfolio is important for all businesses. Showcasing your achievements online attracts interest from prospective clients and shows your dedication to the business and the products you sell. A portfolio can demonstrate how your business is evolving over time: highlighting your successes and even admitting to any failures shows the human side as well.

4. Updating and creating new pages and FAQ

Adding new content to your website will always trigger a higher ranking on search engines. The stale material begins its downward slide very quickly, so adding little and often is key to success with Google.

FAQ pages are as important as your home page and serve to give visitors an opportunity to find answers to questions about your products and services quickly. By incorporating keywords within the FAQ pages your website will achieve higher rankings on SERPS, the search engine results pages, increasing site visits and interest.

5. Search engines

Last but not least, search engines drive business towards an actively maintained and updated website by measuring visitor hits in comparison with rival websites: the length of each visit, search terms used, and the number of links into your website. This information is crucial, as Google runs algorithm programs on a daily basis to analyse hits which ultimately determine your rankings on SERPS.

Web sites must, therefore, be regularly updated and maintained to achieve the highest rankings possible. Clients may take over responsibility for their website maintenance or, for a flat fee of £99, Kaburu will develop a management schedule on your behalf. Blog writing packages are also available at extra cost. So if you need web design services in Paisley, contact us now.kaburu qr code

The adventure through dance for children, inspired by artist and poet William Blake’s idea of innocence as a state of mind, approaches its fourth year of touring and hundredth performance with this new tour.

Fleur Darkin's Innocence.Photographer Maria Falconer2

Scottish Tour: 2nd April – 28th May 2016

“Turning into birds, leaves and rain storms keeps the children absorbed while the dancers’ instincts prevent that rush of excitement spilling over into chaos” ★★★★★ The Express

Innocence b y Fleur Darkin Photographer Maria Falconer

This adventure for toddlers, inspired by William Blake’s childhood and poetry, lets them romp and play and is full of songs, giggles and animal noises by the much celebrated music magician Paul Bradley of Three Cane Whale fame and a firm favourite of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews.

Innocence creates a space for physical discovery and musical exploration, children of all ages interact and respond to the company’s accomplished dancers and their peers as they become tigers and lambs with grown-ups also being inspired to play around. Proof, as William Blake asserted, that innocence is a precious state of mind not limited only to children.

Scottish Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Fleur Darkin was inspired to create the piece by watching children dance and her aim was to create a performance that allowed children to participate and have as much fun as the adults. She said: “I was interested in creating an experience that sees the world from three feet high, and to give the children a chance to call the shots. Children and their parents/friends can dance together and choose how to play inside the show. Families can expect a playful atmosphere and magical space where dancers prowl among them.

Innocence came from being a mother. My children have really shown me how to re-see the world. I came across the story of William Blake, who saw angels in a tree on Peckham Rye at seven years old. His parents didn’t believe him and he got into trouble for “lying”. I wanted to create real-life angels for children to believe in, because adulthood and experience are much over-rated. And actually, parenthood is a much happier experience when you have time to see the world as your child does.”

Scottish Dance Theatre is Scotland’s national contemporary dance company and is part of Dundee Rep Theatre. Under the direction of Fleur Darkin, this risk-taking, innovative company commissions the most exciting choreographers – from all over the world – to make bold new works with their committed team of outstanding dancers. They work with artists of outstanding calibre in the fields of music, design and the visual arts to produce dance of the highest quality that engages with audiences of all ages and abilities.  The company is celebrating its 30th birthday year with a series of events inspiring and involving the community in Dundee and creating a legacy for future generations. There are many ways to get involved, see  www.scottishdancetheatre.co.uk and the company’s social media channels for updates.

Company information

@SDTDance | #SDTis30 | www.scottishdancetheatre.co.uk | www.facebook.com/scottishdancetheatre

Age guidance: For those aged 3+ | Running time: 50 minutes approx. 

Touring dates

2 April                                   Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

                                                Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, EH21 6AA

2pm | £12 (1 child with 1 adult, £5 extra child, £1 babies in arms)

Box office: 0131 665 2240

 

5 April                                    Johnstone Town Hall, 

                                                25 Church St, Johnstone PA5 8FA

2pm | £3

Box office: 0300 300 1210

 

8 April                                    Woodend Barn, Aberdeen

                                                Woodend Barn, Burn O Bennie, Banchory, Kincardineshire, AB31 5QA

11am and 3pm | £5

Box office: 01330 825431

 

16 April                                 Kendal Brewery Arts Centre

                                                122A Highgate, Kendal, LA9 4HE

2pm | £9 (£7 under 16s)

Box office: 01539 722833

 

28 May                                   The Cat Strand, New Galloway

                                                High St, New Galloway, Castle Douglas, DG7 3RN

2pm | £8

Box office: 01644 420374