Two old friends who had not seen each other for more than 60 years have reconnected after they both signed up to tablet classes.

L- R – Christine Maxwell and Elizabeth Young with volunteers at the Adult Tablet Class

Christine Maxwell and Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Young first met when they were 15 and 22 respectively and they worked in the planning department at Thomas White & Sons in Paisley. They each moved on to different jobs and had families and over the years they lost touch, although always sent each other a Christmas card every year.

The pensioners reconnected after they each decided to sign up to tablet classes after receiving tablets as gifts from their families.

The classes which are run by Roar: Connections for Life in partnership with Renfrewshire Council, are part of the Digital Renfrewshire Strategy’s aim to close the digital divide. During the classes participants go from the basics of how to turn on and handle a tablet, to how to safe search online, send emails, use social media, install apps, and sort simple problems.

Commenting on the chance meeting Betty said: “We didn’t recognise each other at first. Christine sat down next to me and then the teacher asked everyone to call out their names and that’s when we realised who each other was.”

Christine added: “It was a great surprise!”

The timing of their reunion is fitting as this week is the first National Digital Learning Week 2017 which aims to celebrate how digital technology can make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Betty explained her reasons for joining the course, she said: “My family bought me an iPad and at first I wasn’t the least bit interested in it. I thought that’s not like me at all. My daughter works in the reception at the University of the West of Scotland where the classes are held and she suggested I go to the tablet classes to learn how to use it. It’s been very interesting and a good laugh. I’ve always been a giggler.

“The classes have really helped me, there were things on the iPad that I didn’t understand but I do now. I’m certainly interested in the iPad now and it’s good to get the company as well.”

Christine added: “My family were always telling me I was behind the times so I shocked them all by asking for a tablet for Christmas. My family are on Facebook a lot but I love playing scrabble on it – it’s really improving my scores I even managed to get a word worth 72 the other day!

“The classes have helped me learn more about what I can do with the tablet and it’s great that there are others there at the same level as me. I’ve also got another reason to look forward to the classes now with Betty being there.

Those interested in participating in the classes can contact Roar: Choices for Life: 0141 889 7481 or email: Those with a good working knowledge of tablets wishing to volunteer should contact Lauren Gilmour, Digital Volunteer Co-ordinator, Engage Renfrewshire, 0141 887 7707 email:

Renfrewshire’s five credit unions have teamed up to offer a one-stop-shop website aimed at covering the savings and loan needs of everybody in the area.

Frances McCann (Scotwest); Margaret Bryce (Johnstone Credit Union); Heather Kay (Engage Renfrewshire); Provost Anne Hall; Stacey Mathieson (Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union); Sean Sandland (White Cart Credit Union); Cathy Mitchell (White Cart Credit Union); Bill Ingles (Gleniffer Credit Union); Paula Ferrier (My Credit Union Renfrewshire); Alan McNiven (Engage Renfrewshire).

Frances McCann (Scotwest); Margaret Bryce (Johnstone Credit Union); Heather Kay (Engage Renfrewshire); Provost Anne Hall; Stacey Mathieson (Renfrewshire-Wide Credit Union); Sean Sandland (White Cart Credit Union); Cathy Mitchell (White Cart Credit Union); Bill Ingles (Gleniffer Credit Union); Paula Ferrier (My Credit Union Renfrewshire); Alan McNiven (Engage Renfrewshire).

The new site at has just been launched and brings together Gleniffer, Johnstone, Renfrewshire-Wide, Scotwest and White Cart credit unions.

It means the various services offered by the five organisations are available in one place – allowing visitors to find whatever savings and borrowing plan suits them and link through to the credit union website.

children from Hillview Nursery with Paula Ferrier of My Credit Union Renfrewshire

children from Hillview Nursery with Paula Ferrier of My Credit Union Renfrewshire

The website was funded through Renfrewshire Council’s Tackling Poverty Programme – a two-year £6m scheme covering 50 projects aimed at taking on the causes of deprivation.

Staff from local third-sector group Engage Renfrewshire also played a key role in co-ordinating the project.

nursery child Robbie McGlynn

nursery child Robbie McGlynn

And representatives of all five credit unions were joined by councillors in Paisley’s Piazza to promote the scheme to lunchtime shoppers.

They were joined by kids from Childcare First’s Hillview Nursery in Ferguslie Park – one of the first organisations to make use of the new website.

Paula Ferrier, marketing officer for, said: “The website signposts the users to a credit union which suits their needs.

“The five credit unions all offer different things but whatever the user is looking for – savings, a mortgage, a car loan, a funeral loan – it’s all there.

“We aren’t like the banks in that we aren’t in competition – we all work together and support each other.

“We are not-for-profit organisations and our members are the shareholders so by saving with us people are giving back to the community.”

Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall was there to help launch the scheme and she added: “The website is a great idea and really easy to use – I would recommend anybody who is thinking about borrowing any money have a look at it.

“We are delighted to have funded this scheme through the council’s Tackling Poverty programme – by helping the credit unions market what they offer we are putting money back into the pockets of people who need it most.

“Since the programme started in 2015 it has helped create more than 600 new credit union members across Renfrewshire, and saved local people a total of £84,000 on interest payments compare to high street banks.”

You can see the new website now at

CHARITIES and voluntary organisations across Renfrewshire are being invited to take part in the very first One Digital Meet Up at Johnstone Town Hall on Thursday 22nd September. From 12.30pm – 3.30pm attendees will hear from speakers such as Alan McNiven from Engage Renfrewshire and Diane Webb from Renfrewshire Council about all things digital in the Renfrewshire area.


Renfrewshire Council’s Tackling Poverty Team established a Digital Team help improve digital participation throughout Renfrewshire through classes and recruiting volunteers to support organisations with digital. This event is being delivered in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Digital Participation Team. There will be presentations and technology demonstrations and a general networking session afterwards to discuss any concerns and issues organisations and individuals may have.

Organisations and individuals with an interest in finding out more about digital participation and the latest digital happenings in Renfrewshire are encouraged to come along. Lauren Gilmour, Digital Volunteer Co-Ordinator based at Engage Renfrewshire who is helping to organise the event said:

“This is a really great opportunity for people across Renfrewshire to come together and talk about digital. As we know, it’s the way forward for many organisations and the benefits it brings to them far outweigh the negatives. But some people lack access and basic skills to get online and our job is to try and change that through training courses, investing in infrastructure and events like this.”

Anyone who is interested in going along to the event is encouraged to register online at or contact Lauren Gilmour at Engage Renfrewshire on 0141 887 7707 or

Five teenage Syrian refugees who arrived in Renfrewshire last year have been praised for their volunteering work with an environmental charity.

 the five boys with Provost Anne Hall and Councillor Mark Macmillan

the five boys with Provost Anne Hall and Councillor Mark Macmillan

The boys are part of a small community of families welcomed to Paisley last November after fleeing the civil war in their homeland.

Renfrewshire welcomed 81 refugees from Syria under the Government’s vulnerable persons resettlement scheme – the third-highest of any area in the UK.

The boys, aged between 15 and 17, were presented with Saltire Awards for their work with the Environmental Training Team (ETT), which organises community clean-ups and not-for-profit enterprise including garden maintenance.

The boys – brothers Ahmad and Ayman Ahmad, Moatasem and Ebrahim Andoura and Issa Al Ahmad – are all pupils of Paisley Grammar and have been volunteering with the charity since June.

Mohamad and Ebrahim Andoura

Mohamad and Ebrahim Andoura

Renfrewshire Council staff arranged the opportunity for the boys through local volunteer co-ordinators Engage Renfrewshire, and paid for their travel costs.

And council leader Mark Macmillan was on hand to present the boys with their certificates at a small ceremony at ETT’s base in the town’s Ferguslie Park area.

He said: “We believe everybody has a moral duty to help those who are fleeing persecution and oppression.

“That’s why we are proud Renfrewshire was able to lead the way in Scotland by welcoming a community of Syrian refugees to the area last year.

“Council staff have worked hard to help the group settle in here – and it’s great to see the boys and their families integrating into the local community like this.

“I was delighted to be able to present these certificates to the boys and wish to thank them for their efforts.”

Alan McNiven, chief executive of local third-sector body Engage Renfrewshire, added: “This award is designed to encourage young people to develop their skills within a team and we were thrilled to be able to honour the boys for their efforts.

“People have many reasons to volunteer – it’s not just the opportunity itself, they want to know they are giving something back and growing themselves too.

“The boys have made a really positive contribution to the Renfrewshire community and we would love to continue to work with them on any of the many other volunteering opportunities we have available.”

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One of Renfrewshire’s Syrian refugees has thanked the people of the area for welcoming them to their new life in Scotland.

Mohamad Andoura arrived in Paisley last November along with his wife and four children – and says his family love their new home…even though they had to get used to the Scottish weather.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said: “When I was back in Syria I always wanted to travel to the UK and now it is my home. Scotland is a great country and the people are amazing.

“I want to thank the people for receiving us – it was a great way we were received. I want to thank Renfrewshire Council – thanks to them my kids are going to school and studying.

“The main difference here is the weather. But I like Scottish people – they are always smiling and we have not experienced any racism.

“We feel at home here but we miss our family back home in Syria. They are not secure there – but there is nothing we can do for them.

“There is just one thing we are missing – I am looking for work and hope to find a job. In Syria I was an accountant and had experience of running a coffee shop. Having a job is very important to Middle Eastern men.”

His son, Ebrahim, aged 17, is one of the boys who volunteered with the charity. He added: “Paisley is a nice area. The people in Scotland are very nice and they smile all the time.

“To be working as a volunteer is very good for me and has given me confidence.

“There were different things we did here and I learned new things, such as how to mow the lawn.

“I am learning English although in school I do not understand everything. But my teachers in school are trying to come up with different ways to teach us and they do their best.

“My favourite subjects are maths and woodwork. When I leave school I want to go to university to study mechanical engineering.”

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

Businesses in Paisley town centre could soon have the help of an army of digital volunteers.

renfrewshire council logo .JPG

Renfrewshire Council have this month appointed a new digital volunteer coordinator.

And Lauren Gilmour, who started in the post this month, is appealing for town centre businesses to get in touch.

Lauren said: “A lot of smaller businesses are reluctant to sell themselves and their services online. It is so important nowadays for any business to look at its digital profile and make sure it has a strategy for its online presence.

“At the same time, there is a lot of digital expertise in the local community, and a lot of free advice and support out there for a variety of places.

“Part of my job will be matching up our growing network of digital volunteers with businesses who could benefit from their help, and helping these same businesses access other support available.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are revitalising Paisley town centre with our ambitious museum and museum store investments, new housing developments in the town centre and an expanding events programme which is bringing more people in.

“The digital volunteer programme is another important step in making sure town centres businesses have the maximum opportunity to benefit from our investment. Later this year, we will be expanding free public wi-fi access across our three main town centres and we really do want everyone to participate in a ‘digital Renfrewshire’.

The move has been welcomed by Paisley First BID Manager Andrew Mitchell who said: “We need to work out how Paisley’s businesses can use the internet and social media as a tool to attract people to our town centre, who can then experience the warm welcome that our town centre community has to offer. Assistance to local businesses to improve their IT and marketing skills can only benefit individual businesses and the town centre”.

Businesses or potential volunteers interested in finding out more can contact Lauren Gilmour at Engage Renfrewshire on 0141 887 7707 or email

Lauren can also be contacted on Twitter @lauren_gilmour1.

St Vincent’s Hospice has been awarded the prestigious Volunteer Friendly Award.

Local Councillor Iain McMillan presented the award today to delighted Hospice staff and volunteers in a brief ceremony at the Hospice in Howwood.

Photo1 vol friendly

“The real stars,” he said, “are the volunteers themselves.  It’s so easy to sit at home and not bother, but it’s terrific that so many people do turn out to help St Vincent’s in so many different ways.”

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The Volunteer Friendly Award is an important quality standard which recognises charities and community groups who are excellent at involving volunteers, lead best practice in volunteering offer good volunteering opportunities and experiences.

It recognises and supports volunteers in making a fantastic, essential and valuable contribution to people both in the hospice and wider community.

Elaine Grealey, Volunteer Services Manager at St Vincent’s said “I’m extremely proud of the achievements of the volunteer team to date. This award demonstrates a real commitment from St Vincent’s Hospice to recognise how valuable our volunteer team is.  We could not function without them, their dedication and support is unquestionable and I look forward to working alongside our volunteers in the future developing new opportunities”

St Vincent’s currently has a team of 241 exceptional volunteers, who work tirelessly across the organisation to support all areas of its work, from our retail teams in the Hospice shops across Renfrewshire to kitchen support, admin and housekeeping within the hospice itself –  to name just a few.  This award is a credit to them, as without them we could not offer the services we do.”

The presentation was also attended by Jacqueline Carroll, Head of Finance at Engage Renfrewshire, who said “It is wonderful to see volunteers being recognised for the work they do.  Engage Renfrewshire is proud to support the Hospice in the next stage of developing its volunteers.”

If you would like to find out more about becoming a volunteer at St Vincent’s Hospice please get in touch with Elaine Grealey or Christine Haddock on 01505 705635 or email




Young people, who have been looked after by Renfrewshire Council, can look forward to a brighter future after the local Community Planning Partnership signed the Care Leavers’ Covenant.


The Covenant focuses on five key areas: health and wellbeing, housing and accommodation, education and training, employment, youth and criminal justice and rights and participation.


The partnership includes: Engage Renfrewshire, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Police Scotland, Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and voluntary sector organisations.

This is the time a Community Planning Partnership has thrown its weight behind the Covenant.

Councillor Mark McMillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “Young people who have been in the care system often don’t do as well as young people who haven’t. It’s estimated that only 1% of care leavers go to university compared to 37% of all young people.

“When young people who have been looked after don’t achieving their full potential at school and college it can have a knock-on effect throughout their lives. It affects their job prospects, their choice of housing and even their health.

“Most young people can rely on their families to provide a safety net which lasts long after they leave school. Young people don’t stop needing care and support when they reach 18. The Covenant is all about corporate parents, like the council, offering the help that young people need to make that difficult transition to successful, independent adults.”

Renfrewshire Council looks after over 700 children and young people.

The Care Leavers’ Covenant was drawn up by: Barnardo’s Scotland, the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, the Institute for Research in Social Services, the Life Changes Trust, Quarriers, the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum and Who Cares? Scotland.


Approved by the Leadership Board, the move will allow the council to strengthen links between classroom learning and the world of work, and reduce the impact of poverty and inequality on young people’s opportunities.



Councillor Mark Macmillan, Renfrewshire Council Leader, said: “We have made significant strides in our efforts to create work and training opportunities for 18 – 24 year olds with Renfrewshire now the fourth highest council in Scotland for youth employment. Youth unemployment has fallen further and faster in Renfrewshire than anywhere in Scotland

“That is fantastic progress which we will absolutely build on. Our effort to close the achievement gap is one of our top priorities and underpins our aspirations to achieve full youth employment and tackle poverty.

“This investment will deliver work to strengthen links between schools, further education and local employers for young people from low income backgrounds. It will also let us develop work experience opportunities, boost vocational skills, work with employers to build skills in young learners and create more opportunities for recruitment directly from education.”

The funding forms part of a wider employability action plan funded by the council’s £6m Tackling Poverty fund, and has been drawn up by the council, West College Scotland, University of the West of Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, and Engage Renfrewshire.

The £117,000 will deliver:

  • £43,000 to West College Scotland to support the Parents in Partnership programme, provide taster sessions and employability and personal development courses for young people with additional needs.
  • £28,000 to University of West of Scotland to provide taster sessions for S2 to S4 pupils and a module called ‘step up’ for S5 and S6 pupils. Step up will be delivered in May 2016 to let pupils experience university and its opportunities. Parents will also be part of the programme.
  • £22,000 to Princes Trust to deliver the Achieve and Future Starts Programme that works with schools to ensure pupils employment, training or further education in place before leaving school.
  • £18,000 to the Chamber of Commerce for a Skills Ambassador Programme which would provide group business mentoring in every secondary school – targeting the most vulnerable young people.
  • £6,000 to Engage Renfrewshire to offer supported work experience and volunteer opportunities within the voluntary sector to young people with additional support needs.
street stuff

Talented young female footballers in Renfrewshire have the chance to improve their skills thanks to a new development programme.

The award-winning Street Stuff initiative and St Mirren in the Community Have teamed up for a free Girls Development Programme at the Paisley side’s Greenhill Road base.

street stuff

The Carbrini@JD Airdome will host sessions for female players aged 8-14 on Wednesday evenings.

Street Stuff provides evening and weekend activities diverting young people away from possible antisocial behaviour. The programme is a partnership between Renfrewshire Council, St Mirren Football Club, Engage Renfrewshire, Police Scotland and Strathclyde Fire & Rescue.

Councillor Eddie Devine, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board, was on hand to see the first session and said: “Street Stuff has proven hugely popular in recent years and it has been encouraging to see more and more girls turn out to play.”

“A dedicated development programme gives more of the girls a chance to play football, improve their skills and, most importantly, have fun!”

“Street Stuff is all about giving our young people the opportunity to be active and do something p ositive with their time.”

St Mirrren Chief Executive Brian Caldwell added: “The club is always keen to strengthen our ties with the local community, with the added bonus that working with Street Stuff has uncovered some great footballing talent, both male and female. I’m sure that the new development programme will be another winner for everybody.”

More information about the Girls Development Programme and other Street Stuff activities is available at

Bereaved relatives and friends turn out in their hundreds to a special memorial football tournament in Ferguslie.

Over 700 people attended the popular community event No Substitute for Life to commemorate those who have lost their lives to suicide.


Twelve teams took part in the seven-a-side football tournament with Lucy’s Angels winning the match for a second year in a row.

Football wasn’t the only thing on offer – friends and family were able to get information and meet representatives from a range of local and national agencies that are working together to help prevent suicide in Scotland.


People also had the opportunity to write a message on a purple heart and put it on the SOBS memorial tree in the Tannahill Centre.

The event was attended by Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall, who opened the event, and Paul Cardona, whose personal experiences led him to develop the event for the community.


At the end of the event a hundred balloons were released into the air in remembrance for those who had lost their lives to suicide.

Provost Hall said: “No Substitute for Life is a treasured event for the community given so many people an opportunity to talk about their loss with others. Breaking this isolation is key for anyone affected by suicide, but it also helps to prevent people taking their own lives.


“Men are still twice as likely to lose their lives to suicide, so a game of football is a great way to get together and help spread awareness that talking about suicide does help save lives.”

The Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) support group meets on the last Tuesday of every month in the Charleston Centre between 7pm and 9pm.

No Substitute for Life is organised by community volunteers in partnership with Choose Life, Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH) and Engage Renfrewshire.

The national helpline Breathing Space can be reached on 0800 83 85 87, and the number for The Samaritans is 08457 90 90 90.

Recovery Across Mental Health (RAMH) First Crisis can be contacted on 0141 848 9090.

For more information on suicide prevention, call 0141 849 2200, or