A community project to turn Johnstone Police Station into a local health hub has taken a significant step forward.

Hand over of Johnstone Police station to community groups 20.8.18

Active Communities has received £10,000 from Renfrewshire Council’s Community Empowerment Fund towards its plans to take over ownership of the former police station.

It is one of three projects to receive support from the first round of applications for the newly established fund open to all community groups who want to take over ownership and running of a building or piece or land in their local area.

Starting out 15 years ago as a Paisley walking and jogging group, Active Communities now delivers physical activity and community sport, health and wellbeing classes to more than 700 people each week right across Renfrewshire, with a local school programme and a youth volunteering initiative.

Their innovative idea to convert the station building into a community led health and wellbeing centre has received funds for a feasibility study and to further develop the business case.

Plans for the facility also include providing space for women’s initiative Kairos, who provide support to vulnerable women facing social barriers and a men’s shed for men to make social connections and build friendships.

The station kitchen could be adapted to give local people training in cookery and healthy eating and there are also plans to provide meeting rooms for other community groups.

“The more we have grown and the greater the demand, we were keen to have a central hub so we can deliver lots more activities,” said Susan McDonald, Active Communities Manager.

“Downstairs would be space for our classes and upstairs would be office space for ourselves and for other community organisations who are looking to grow. There’s been great support from the Johnstone community and it is really exciting that we’re one step closer.

“Our classes and activities are about having fun and helping to tackle loneliness and isolation. We aim to encourage people who wouldn’t see themselves as sporty. We will have space for a drop in where people can join us for a cuppa, a chat and find out what is available.”

The group are also in discussions with Police Scotland over the transfer of the station.

Inspector Cassie Glass, Johnstone, Renfrew and the Villages Community Policing Team, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the local community in terms of health and wellbeing and very appropriate use of our former Police Station. We wish them every success.”

Councillors on Renfrewshire’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board also approved £10,000 for Paisley Community Trust as they develop the business case to turn the old Arnott’s site into a cinema, arts venue and theatre.

And West End Growing Grounds Association received £20,000 to help them relocate to Underwood Road.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We have so many innovative and creative people in our communities and these projects, from health hubs to local growing grounds, exemplify this.

“Everyone in Renfrewshire wants their own town or village to thrive and we believe that local communities are key to their success. That’s why this fund has been created, to empower all community groups – whether firmly established or just starting out – to come forward with their ideas and we will do all we can to help them along the way. It’s so important to me that we can reach as diverse a range of community members as possible.

“We are also establishing new funds for our villages and to develop Renfrewshire’s green spaces and improving local decision making as part of our commitment to give communities greater say and control than ever before.”

The next deadline for Community Empowerment Fund applications is Friday 14 September. To find out more, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/CommunityEmpowermentFund, call 0141 618 7408 or email communityplanning@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

Mill is a brand new free lifestyle magazine for Paisley and Renfrewshire. A compact-sized bimonthly glossy, focusing on the present and the future of the town, with an occasional look back at its colourful past. Packed with engaging content that includes news, music, fashion, beauty, travel, food and drink, homes and interiors, property, and a range of diverse features that appeal to a wide audience.


A mum-of-three who went bankrupt after using pay day lenders says that joining a Credit Union changed her life.

Sally-Ann Bareford took out high interest loans and ended up paying back up to triple the amount she had originally borrowed.

But since she joined White Cart Credit Union eight months ago, she says for the first time she feels she has control over her finances.

Credit unions are not-for-profit organisations owned and controlled by their members, which offer savings and low cost loans.

The 49-year-old, who has a 21-year-old daughter Amy and two younger children Jack, 10 and Alex, 7, said: “I was using payday lenders as I wasn’t in a position to get a loan from the bank. I ended up paying double and sometimes triple on what I had borrowed because the interest rates were so high.

“I was using them for years and at one stage I had to declare myself bankrupt as my finances had  got into such as a bad state. It seemed like easy money until you realised you had to pay it back with astronomical rates of interest. Your debt starts off small and then just explodes and get bigger and bigger and it can take years to pay it back.”

Sally-Ann said the situation was a Catch 22 as she had such a bad credit record she felt she had no option but to go back to pay day lenders.

But earlier this year she was introduced to the non-profit White Cart Credit Union through the Paisley-based community organisation, the Star Project.

She said: “The representative Frank is so friendly. He sits and has a coffee with you and explains all the benefits. The interest rate is one per cent to cover their costs and I save as I borrow.

“I’ve had two loans, one for £1,600 to take my two youngest children to visit my mum in Eastbourne this summer, and another to go on a weekend bonding trip with my eldest daughter.

“Frank comes to the Star Project every two weeks and I pay money in to pay back my loan and whatever I can afford to save. I’ve become a regular saver for the first time.

Sally, who is unable to work due to heath issues, added: “It’s made a huge difference to my life as I can pay back the money at an affordable rate. I’ve already paid off one of my loans and am still saving. I would recommend a Credit Union to anybody.”

Renfrewshire Affordable Credit Alliance (RACA), which was previously the Affordable Credit Group, is a group of agencies, who work collaboratively to increase the provision of accessible, ethical and affordable credit for people in the most vulnerable circumstances.

It is holding a public event in the Paisley Piazza on 30 August from 10am to 4pm to talk to the public about their affordable credit options. Representatives from banks, credit union, social enterprise Scotcash as well advice agencies will all be there to answer any questions.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “As part of Renfrewshire Council’s ongoing effort to tackling poverty and inequality, we have been supporting and promoting the development of affordable credit, such as credit unions.

“Sadly, it’s often the case that those who have the least money are charged the most for credit.

“We want people to know there are other options aside from payday and other high cost lenders.

“The Council supported the establishment of Renfrewshire’s Affordable Credit Alliance and are the first local authority area in Scotland to have such an initiative.

“The work around affordable credit led to the linking of White Cart Credit Union and Star Project, which has allowed people like Sally-Ann and many others to save and borrow easily.”

Essential training to keep your Pet safe, gain the skills and confidence to act competently in the event of an emergency!

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DELIGHTED youngsters at Wallace Primary, in Elderslie came back to school to find they had a spruced-up courtyard that can now be used as an outdoor classroom and a space where they can spend time in with friends.

It’s all thanks to a donation of more than £2000 from intu Braehead shopping and leisure destination and the hard work of some of its staff, who volunteered to spend two days refurbishing what was a run-down and little-used part of the school.

The volunteer work was part of intu’s company-wide initiative encouraging staff to take the time from their work schedule to help support a local charity or community group.

Along with workers from landscape gardening experts, Cardwell Nurseries, based in Gourock, the intu Braehead team weeded pathways, power washed concrete slabs, carried out a general tidy-up, put in plants and flowers and painted the four walls surrounding the courtyard.

The school’s head teacher, Susan Dalrymple said: “This has been a fantastic transformation and everyone from intu Braehead has done an amazing job.

“The children are delighted with their new courtyard and it was a big surprise for them when they came back to school after the summer holidays.

“The area was very run-down and not used very much, but now we can get a real benefit from the space.”

Lydia Brown, intu Braehead’s community development manager said: “We hope the pupils enjoy their new space which is now all spick and span.

“After intu Braehead agreed to pay for the materials, our staff worked really hard to transform the courtyard.”

Local businesses and homes across Renfrewshire can benefit from faster internet connections through the UK Government Local Full Fibre Network Challenge Fund.

Small businesses and the local communities surrounding them can apply for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, providing a one-off contribution to subsidise the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection.

Quicker file downloads and improved videoconferencing are just two of the benefits of a full fibre gigabit connection.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project, while residents can benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth £500 as part of a group project.

Find out more at: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

The voucher scheme complements a range of investments in Renfrewshire to provide the best available internet connections.

Key public buildings, including schools, will benefit from a £2million investment towards an ultrafast fibre network confirmed in the 2018 Council budget, with further funding being targeted from the UK Government’s Challenge Fund.

Renfrewshire will also benefit from the Scottish Government £600million digital infrastructure investment across Scotland.

And free public wifi is now live in Johnstone and Renfrew and coming soon to Paisley, making these town centres more attractive places to visit and driving footfall to local businesses.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We live in an increasingly connected world where people rely on fast and reliable internet access. That’s why we are investing in our digital infrastructure, recognising the benefits this brings for residents, visitors and of course our business community, in turn boosting the local economy.”

Photographs of the Paisley Tango flash mob in the Piazza Paisley yesterday (Saturday 18th August) Taken by Ruth Walsh for www.paisley.org.uk

SHOPPERS are being given the chance to vote for their favourite store, restaurant and entertainment venue in the 2018 intu Braehead retailer awards.

Thousands of people are expected to pick their favourites in an online poll just launched.

There are awards for the store categories – menswear, footwear and accessories, food and drink, kids, specialist retailer, ladieswear, jewellery, health and beauty along with retailer of the year, entertainment venue and world class customer service.

All you have to do to vote is log on to www.intu.co.uk/braehead and those who pick their favourites in the poll will get the chance to win a £250 intu Gift Card. The closing date for voting is Thursday, September 6.

Marketing manager for intu Braehead, David Lyon said: “We’ve got some fantastic stores, cafes, restaurants and fun entertainment venues and this gives people the chance to vote for their favourites.

“And the awards are a great way of recognising the businesses that give shoppers such a great service.”

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Renfrewshire Employability Awards celebrating the successes of people supported through Renfrewshire’s Local Employability Partnership programmes.

RDC Invest awards 6.9.17 Celebrating Success
Renfrewshire Employability Awards
Paisley Town Hall

It is the fifth year of the popular awards organised on behalf of the partnership by Renfrewshire Council’s economic development service Invest in Renfrewshire.

Invest work closely with more than 1000 local businesses to support Renfrewshire residents from its base at Paisley’s Russell Institute building.

Together, the programme provides direct access to vacancies, work experience, training, personal support and finance.

There are nine awards across a range of categories including Most Promising New Entrepreneur and Apprentice of the Year. The awards also recognise school pupils and people building their CV through volunteering as they prepare for the world of work.

Last year’s glittering celebrations recognised top intern Debbie Campbell, whose work with award-winning community charity I Am Me Scotland raised awareness of disability hate crime.

Johnstone High School pupil Morgan Spence won the Youth CV builder award, the Kilbarchan teenager’s stop-motion film-making skills being viewed more than a million times online.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The Renfrewshire Employability Awards are always an excellent event, recognising new employees making a real difference to local businesses and celebrating the successes of those who transform their lives and future careers through involvement in Renfrewshire’s employability programmes. I would encourage people to submit their nominations as soon as possible.

“Invest in Renfrewshire organises these awards on behalf of the Local Employability Partnership in recognition of Renfrewshire’s success in this area and the hard work and effort put in by our local people.

“The Invest team themselves have built strong partnerships with the local business community and together are creating work and training opportunities for more than 1400 people each year. This is hugely important, reducing unemployment and enabling our local economy to grow.”

Deadline for nominations is Friday 14 September 2018 with the awards ceremony taking place at Paisley Town Hall in November.

The ever-popular event is also an opportunity to thank local businesses for their contributions which has helped the Renfrewshire economy grow significantly in recent years.

“In June we set out a five-year commitment to help the people most in need into work,” added Councillor Nicolson. “We will help communities facing deprivation and those unemployed and underemployed, changing people’s opportunities and making the most of the major areas of growth coming to Renfrewshire in areas such as childcare, tourism and manufacturing.

“These annual awards are a great way to celebrate the successes and acknowledge the many partners playing their part in creating a thriving Renfrewshire, open for business.”

For full details of the awards and to make a nomination, visit: www.investinrenfrewshire.com/awards-2018/

Get ready to raise a glass as Scotland’s biggest full-day whisky event comes to Paisley as part of The Spree Festival 2018.

The National Whisky Festival (NWF) will take place at Paisley Town Hall on Saturday 13 October and will see two sessions of drams, masterclasses, food, whisky related arts, crafts and a fantastic programme of live music.

The Spree festival is one of the highlights of Paisley’s annual cultural calendar and takes place in various venues around the town from 12 to 20 October.

The National Whisky Festival sessions will start at Paisley Town Hall from 12pm – 3.30pm and 4.15pm – 7.45pm and by purchasing a ticket whisky lovers will be able to enjoy:

  • entrance to one of the 3.5-hour sessions
  • access to over 50 whiskies on the tasting floor
  • two £5 discount vouchers for use on purchases at the on-site bottle shop
  • a complimentary line-up of fantastic live music
  • your own NWF branded Glencairn crystal nosing glass to use on the day and take home
  • access to masterclasses (ticketed separately)
  • official festival programme

Colin Campbell, National Whisky Festival organiser, said: “The National Whisky Festival is a combined celebration of the best of Scottish culture and our national drink.

“The event at Paisley Town Hall will see a whole host of exhibitors and distilleries in attendance, each carefully considered to provide the most enjoyable experience of whisky tasting and entertainment on the day.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring the festival to Paisley as part of The Spree Festival 2018 for a brilliant day of drams, delicious food and thrilling live music.”

Louisa Mahon, Head of Marketing, Communications and Events at Renfrewshire Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome the National Whisky Festival to Paisley as part of this year’s Spree Festival.

“The Spree Festival is one of the highlights of Paisley’s annual cultural events calendar and has continued to go from strength to strength as it enters its seventh year.

“Hosting an event such as the National Whisky Festival shows Paisley’s ability to host large-scale events and we can’t wait to welcome visitors from all over to Paisley Town Hall to enjoy a celebration of whisky and the best of Scottish culture.”

Visitors to the festival will also be able to enjoy delicious food from local restaurants and street food vendors, a craft beer bar and an on-site bottle shop provided by the Good Spirits Company.

The inaugural National Whisky Festival took place at Glasgow’s SWG3 in January 2017 as part of the city’s Celtic Connections festival.

The Spree Festival is run by Renfrewshire Council and programmed by Synergy Concerts and Renfrewshire Leisure.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas will perform at a special Closing Gala show at Paisley Town Hall on Saturday 20 October alongside the London African Gospel Choir who will perform Paul Simon’s Graceland.

Black Sabbath guitarist and rock music legend Tony Iommi will also appear at Paisley Town Hall on Friday 12 October for a special show giving music fans the inside story of his career – called ‘Tony Iommi in conversation with Phil Alexander: A Life in Music’.

Other big-name acts coming to Paisley for this year’s Spree include The Orb, ex-Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flür, Gang of Four, Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert, Big Minds (made up of members of Big Country and Simple Minds), Vieux Farka Touré, The Wandering Hearts and more.

The Wee Spree will also be back as part of the festival with plenty of fun activities to keep the kids entertained during the October holidays.

Tickets for all shows (including the National Whisky Festival) are on sale now via The Spree Festival website. Visit www.thespree.co.uk