New designs aimed at turning Paisley’s Abbey Close into an expanded outdoor events venue and improved public space have been published – and the public are being asked to give their views.

The planned changes will create a more attractive outdoor space around the town hall and Abbey, allowing people spend time in the shadows of two of the town’s most iconic buildings.

The work would see an expanded paved area in front of the town hall – removing the current ‘D’ shape – increasing the capacity for events such as the Halloween and Food and Drink festivals.

They also include new high-quality paving and lighting, removing some boundary walls to make the space more accessible and open, and adding new seating.

The proposed designs were based on feedback from an initial consultation in 2019 which asked the public what they wanted from Paisley town centre’s open spaces.

The statues of Alexander Wilson and Robert Tannahill would be repositioned but retained in prominent spots close to their current locations overlooking the town hall.

Residents and businesses can have their say on the proposed designs at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/article/11209/Abbey-Close-public-consultation

The work is part of the wider push led by Renfrewshire Council to use culture and heritage to drive new footfall to the area, and includes the ongoing work to turn Paisley Museum into a world-class destination and Paisley Town Hall into a landmark entertainment venue.

The Abbey Close improvements are planned to be complete for the town hall reopening and will allow venue activity to expand outside into the space at the entrance to the building.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The last year has shown us that high-quality outdoor space will only be more important in future.

“While the major events were postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, visitors to them and our reopened town hall will play a part in the area’s economic recovery in the years ahead.

“When we last asked the public’s views on Abbey Close in 2019 they told us they valued its architecture and scenery but felt it could be improved – the designs are based on that feedback.

“I would encourage members of the public to go to the council website, read more about the proposals, and let us know what they think”

Imogen Stirling

Poet, musician and theatre-maker, Imogen Stirling, collaborates with youth arts charity CREATE Paisley, to help the young people of Renfrewshire express themselves through poetry. 

 

The internationally renowned writer, whose portfolio of work has been featured on Sky Arts will be taking up the mantle of writer in residence for this year’s Paisley Book Festival which is going digital for the first time.

Imogen Stirling

As part of Imogen’s role she’s working with CREATE Paisley to champion the role of creativity in the lives of young people and offer a chance to work alongside her on their own poetry and writing. Imogen’s work has seen her travel the world with sold out performances at the Prague and Edinburgh fringe as well as appearances at both the Eden and latitude festivals but with her 2020 touring schedule being ground to a halt by Covid-19 she is looking forward to supporting young people express themselves as part of the project.

 

I’ve always had a passion for working with young people and the opportunity to work with CREATE Paisley as part of my tenure as Writer in Residence is really exciting. During these tough times it is so important for young people to be able to express themselves and I am super excited to do that with them through my passion for poetry. I believe that using words and poetry in a relaxed environment can really help us to express our thoughts and explore emotions in a safe and healthy way and I am so looking forward to these workshops and hope to see as many people there as possible’’

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Imogen joins CREATE as part of their Teach Me Tuesday programme which will give young people the opportunity to take part in a series of free online creative writing workshops. Together, Imogen and the young people will use simple writing exercises, discussion, poetry readings and storytelling to explore how words can be used to express mindfulness and fun. With a view to looking forward to more hopeful times than 2020, the imagination will run wild with radical new futures and what we can learn from this tumultuous year. After having played around with various poetic techniques throughout the workshop, each participant will be encouraged to create their own short piece of writing which can be edited into a collective ballad and then presented during one of the Paisley Book Festival’s online events.

 

CREATE knows the importance of creativity in a young person’s life in terms of their mental health and academic attainment but also at this time, workshops like Imogen’s, play a much more important role. Brid Gallagher, Youth development worker at CREATE, has been working across the charities online programme since the start of lockdown and has seen first hand the effect that lockdown is having on young people’s lives: 

 

‘We work with so many young people who are struggling at the moment. The isolation and anxieties surrounding the pandemic are really having an effect on their well being and we have had many young people approach us who are struggling with depression and isolation. Workshops like Imogen’s give much needed structure and a chance to express their feelings in a safe and healthy way. We are so excited to be working with Imogen and  grateful for her giving our young people such a great opportunity to see their work being showcased at the Festival’s online events!’ 

 

The workshops are open to anyone aged between 12 and 21 and will start on Tuesday 26th of  January at 7pm. 

Open to all levels, with complete beginners very welcome!” To sign up visit www.createpaisley.org.uk/

Renfrewshire residents are being urged to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and get the Covid19 vaccine – as the locations for three large-scale vaccination centres in the area are confirmed.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde earlier today announced centres across the health board area, including at Paisley’s Lagoon Leisure Centre, Renfrew Leisure Centre and Johnstone Town Hall.

Renfrewshire Council is assisting the health board to operate all three locations – due to open on Monday 1 February and expected to handle thousands of residents a week over the coming months.

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And council leader Iain Nicolson is backing the Scottish Government’s ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ campaign encouraging residents to take up the offer of a vaccine when they become eligible.

Vaccinations are currently being given in order of priority to care-home residents, frontline health and social care workers, and those aged 80 years and over.

The NHS will contact people directly with details of their appointment when they become eligible – there is no need to contact anyone.

Councillor Nicolson said: “Getting vaccinated is the best way we will have to stop the spread of Covid19, and protect you, your family and friends from a potentially deadly virus.

“The vaccine rollout will also eventually allow the government to start easing restrictions and getting life back to normal again, which I am sure everyone in Renfrewshire wants to see.

“We are pleased to be able to support the NHS with the operation of the vaccination centres, and I would urge people in the relevant groups to look out for their appointment letter.

“In the meantime, please stick with the rules and the guidance around face coverings, physical distancing and hand-washing to help stop the spread – and know there is light at end of the tunnel and what we are living through just now will not be forever.”

The rollout of the vaccine is following the priority list agreed by the Scottish Government and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), with those in older age groups and who are considered clinically vulnerable first in line.

The three local centres are among 16 across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area. NHS staff will administer the vaccines and staff from Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure will help manage the buildings and with local arrangements.

They will initially be open six days a week and were chosen for their size, central locations and good transport links.

More information on how the three centres will work and how to get there is available on the council website at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-vaccination-centres

For more information about the vaccine itself, see NHS Inform: www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/immunisation/vaccines/coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine

An unused pavilion in Howwood Public Park could be brought back to life for the local community as councillors get set to a consider an application for a Community Asset Transfer.

Friends of Howwood Park are seeking to take over the pavilion on a 10-year lease, with the aim of refurbishing it and bringing it back into community use.

They plan to carry out a full refurbishment of the building, as well as adding a disabled toilet and baby changing area.

Once complete, the group are aiming for it to be used as a changing facility for local teams using the adjacent football pitch, which has also been brought back into use, and as a social hub for parkgoers, such as local walking groups and youth clubs.

The group have already transformed the play park in Howwood Park with new, inclusive play equipment including new swings, a zip slide, roundabout, climbing frame and bike ramps, assisted by a £50,000 award from the Council’s Green Spaces, Parks and Play Areas and Villages Investment Fund – and visitors numbers have significantly increased.

Gillian Whyte, Friends of Howwood Park, said: “During the pandemic, Howwood Park has been a phenomenal asset for the village, as it has provided a great space for children to meet up and play, for adults to connect with other adults in a safe environment, and for outdoor exercise.

“The re-opening of the pavilion will take this surge in use to another level as it will attract even more people to the park on a regular basis. Once Coronavirus restrictions allow, it will provide a place from where light refreshments can be bought, a toilet facility, a baby changing facility, storage space for equipment which we can use to hold events, and a base for local groups to meet, including local football teams. It will open a host of new opportunities for activities at Howwood Park”.

The park has also benefitted from council investment in the drainage system, new paths and fencing around the perimeter.

If their application is successful, the group plan to apply to Renfrewshire Council’s Community Empowerment Fund to support the refurbishment of the pavilion.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “We’re always keen to support and empower local people where possible and I look forward to the application for a Community Asset Transfer being considered by the board.”

For more information on community empowerment in Renfrewshire, including funding opportunities, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/communityempowerment.

Paisley Grammar-high-res

Plans to move Paisley Grammar School to a new-build community campus on the town’s Renfrew Road has been approved by councillors.

At the recent Education and Children’s Services Policy Board (Thursday 21 January), councillors agreed to the move the school to land formerly home to Chivas after considering officer’s recommendations and the consultation responses from parents, pupils and the wider school community.

The consultation, which took place in September and October last year, showed an overall support for the proposals. Consultation responses were received through an online survey, letters, and two virtual public meetings – with the responses published on the council’s website.

Officers from Education Scotland also examined the consultation and concluded that the proposal ‘has clear educational benefits’ and ‘the potential to provide a high-quality learning environment’.

Councillor Jim Paterson, convener of the Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, said: “Making sure all pupils have the best learning environment possible is a big priority for us. It’s clear that the current Paisley Grammar School building isn’t able to provide the modern facilities that pupils need, so It is fantastic news that proposals to move the school to a purpose-built new community campus has now been approved.

“I know many people are incredibly fond of the Paisley Grammar School building and I can assure you that we want the building’s heritage to be maintained after it stops functioning as a school.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the public consultation last year and can assure you all views expressed have been taken into account.”

The new community campus will move pupils and staff to a modern facility with outdoor areas, state-of-the-art technology, and high-quality media, drama and sports facilities not possible on the current site.

It was confirmed in December that Paisley Grammar was one of 25 schools across Scotland to receive funding from the Scottish Government’s £1bn Learning Estate Investment Programme, which – along with money already set aside by the council – would help fund the new building.

Council officers will now start work on the next stages of this project, which will include working with all concerned on traffic management – a concern raised in the consultation.

The Council took ownership of the bulk of the former Chivas site in Paisley in December 2020 and as part of site preparations, is seeking specialist advice from architects to determine if it should retain the main office building, which was built in 1964, in line with the school campus development.

It is estimated that the earliest a new community campus will be completed is 2025.

 

Anne Pitcher, professional storyteller.docx AP

Viewers of Paisley & District U3A’s 4 February online meeting at 2pm are invited to join renowned Scottish oral storyteller, Anne Pitcher.  They’ll leave the cares of the world behind and join Anne on a storytelling journey that will transport them to other places and times.  People are welcome to ask questions and have a chat.

Anne Pitcher, professional storyteller.docx AP

U3A chair, Kathy O’Donnell remarked: “Scotland has a longstanding oral storytelling tradition.  Indeed, well known writers like Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott are celebrated the world over.  Our members can enjoy hearing stories being told, according to the Scottish Travellers’ old proverb, “Eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart.”

Anne Pitcher, who is on the Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland’s Directory of professional storytellers said: “Scotland has such a rich history of oral storytelling rooted deep in its past.  Storytellers traditionally shared folklore, myths, legends and historical tales.  Today oral storytelling is a vibrant and active art form in Scottish culture, and one which I’m proud to be part of.”

Details on how to view this free live talk are on:https://u3asites.org.uk/paisley/welcome

Drone

AGS Airports, which owns and manages Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, is to lead a consortium that will develop and trial what will be the UK’s first national distribution network to use drones to transport essential medicines, blood, organs and other medical supplies throughout Scotland.

Drone

The AGS led consortium, which brings together 14 organisations including the University of Strathclyde, and leading air traffic control provider NATS, successfully secured £1.5 millionfrom the UK Industrial Strategy Future Flight Challenge Fund to demonstrate how autonomous drone technology can enhance access to essential medical supplies, particularly in rural parts of Scotland.

The CAELUS (Care & Equity – Healthcare Logistics UAS Scotland) project started on 1 December and will involve live drone flight trials. In addition to developing the ground infrastructure needed to recharge the drones and the systems to control them while flying, a key aspect of the project will be designing pathways to ensure the drones can safely share airspace with civil aviation. The project will also ensure critical aspects such as public safety, security and noise levels are considered.

A digital blueprint of the drone delivery network will then be created with the potential to connect hospitals, pathology laboratories, distribution centres and GP surgeries across Scotland. The project is scheduled to run until Spring 2022.

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports, said: “This project has the potential to completely revolutionise the way in which healthcare services are delivered in Scotland. Not only does drone technology have the ability to speedup the delivery of critical medical supplies, it could reduce waiting times for test results and, more importantly, help provide equity of care between urban and remote rural communities.

“The organisations within this consortium are some of the most skilled and experienced in drone technology. The funding from UK Industrial Strategy will allow us to work together to overcome some of the challenges associated with scaling drone operations to deliver atransport network that is technically, socially and financially viable.

Although our focus is on healthcare, the CAELUS project could pave the way for the deployment of drone-enabled logistics in other sectors and has the potential to change the way airspace is used by manned and unmanned vehicles. It also has clear environmental benefits as it will play a key role in reducing the carbon emissions generated by existing, road-based distribution networks within Scotland.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran and the NHS West of Scotland Innovation Hub, which supports health and social care innovation across the West of Scotland, will work alongside the AGS led consortium on the project

Karen Bell, Head of Research & Development – Innovation Lead for NHS Ayrshire & Arran said: “NHS Ayrshire & Arran are excited to be leading on the delivery of this project on behalf of the West of Scotland Innovation Hub.

This is an opportunity to work with aviation colleagues to explore the innovative use of drone technology to address some of the potential challenges facing daily delivery of NHS services, not only within NHS Ayrshire & Arran but across the West of Scotland.”

The Scottish Government’s Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This innovative project will help position Scotland at the forefront of drone technologies to deliver essential healthcare supplies to people more quickly, especially those living remote locations. It also demonstrates, once again, that when businesses, universities and public sector work together they can deliver for Scotland and outperform the competition, attracting welcome funding at this challenging time.”

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Strathclyde is a founding member of the UK Aviation Research Consortium and we are delighted to play a central role in this exciting project, applying our expertise from across multiple disciplines. The project aligns with our health technologies research cluster and our long track record of working with industry and the public sector. We look forward to demonstrating the potential value of drone delivery of medical supplies for the public, NHS, the economy, social equality and for the aviation manufacturing industry in Scotland.”

Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge Director, added: “At this very challenging time for the international aviation industry, it is a great testament to the UK’s drive and ambition that we have had such a strong response to the first funded Future Flight competition. The breadth, quality and creativity of the bids has been exceptional and the economic and social benefits offered are very significant. The projects we are now launching will position the UK strongly to drive the third revolution in aviation.”

The CAELUS consortium comprises:

AGS Airports Limited​​​​​NATS (Services) Limited

ANRA Technologies UK Ltd​​​​Schneider Electric (UK) Limited

Atkins Ltd​​​​​​Avy – Drones for Good

The Drone Office Ltd​​​​​Connected Places Catapult

Trax International Ltd ​​​​​DGP Intelsius Limited

uAvionix Ltd​​​​​​Leonardo MW Ltd​​

University of Strathclyde​​​​Dronamics

kirsty logan
In 1880, Benjamin Disraeli famously said “Keep your eye on Paisley!” Paisley has a long history of radicalism, of finding strength in facing up to and overcoming adversity in whatever shape or form it might take.
The theme for the 2021 Paisley Book Festival, Radical New Futures, emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic and the resilience and fortitude that people and communities have shown. It has also been motivated by the importance that green spaces have played as solace and recuperation over the last year.
kirsty logan
Books and reading have been a great source of comfort for so many people during lockdown, evidenced by increased borrowing figures at Renfrewshire Libraries.
The Paisley Book Festival is supported by Future Paisley, a programme of economic, social, and physical regeneration continuing the excitement and momentum experienced during the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 Bid. It is delivered by Renfrewshire Leisure and funded by Renfrewshire Council.
The 2021 Festival will be a digital forum with contributors coming from across the globe into your own home. It is delighted to welcome the 2020 Booker Prize winner, Douglas Stuart, who will be joined by Scottish literary giant, Andrew O’Hagan and debut writer, Graeme Armstrong. Other headline events will include Janey Godley, Melanie Reid, Chris Brookmyre and Dr. Marisa Haetzman, writer for Small Axe series Courttia Newland, Salena Godden, Jenny Kleeman, Kirstin Innes, and Kate Charlesworth in conversation with Val McDermid. Events for children will include Ross Mackenzie, Vivian French, Patience Agbabi, Karine Polwart and Kate Leiper.
Setting the tone for the Festival on its opening night – Radical New Futures – will be poet, playwright and performer Hannah Lavery (The Drift and Lament for Sheku Boyah), writer Laura Waddell (Exit) and Renfrewshire local Alan Bissett with his new novella Lazy Suzan. The opening night will also include Newtopia: Women with Fierce Words, a multimedia performance of writing emerging from women’s disrupted lives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, presented by Women With Fierce Words and joined from India by the award-winning poet, Saima Afreen.
Paisley Book Festival welcomes novelist, poet, performer, Kirsty Logan and author and singer-songwriter Malachy Tallack as guest curators. Kirsty has curated a strand Understories: Reclaiming the stories we think we know with authors Intan ParamadithaSarah Maria GriffinKiran Millwood HargraveRebecca TamasMichael Lee Richardson and Tasha Suri. Malachy welcomes authors Alastair McIntoshKapka KassabovaPatrick LaurieCal Flyn and Lisa Wollett to the festival as part of an event strand called A Place for Hope: land, loss and the politics of care.
Writer in Residence Imogen Stirling presents... c. Sarah Grant
Full programme can be viewed on: paisleybookfestival.com – listings document attached. 
Victoria HollowsChief ExecutiveRenfrewshire Leisure said: 
“I am delighted we are able to launch the 2021 Paisley Book Festival, albeit in a different format from last year but with the same energy and inspirational programming that made our first festival such a success. This year’s theme of Radical New Futures embodies the feeling of strength and innovation that has been evident in communities throughout the pandemic and I am delighted to see this is reflected in the excellent line-up of writers involved in the festival, from headliners such as Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart to local writers, poets and children’s authors. I am sure that this festival will be a huge success and will put the Paisley Book Festival on the map for years to come.”
Paisley Book Festival Co-Producer Jess Orr said: “Whilst current restrictions mean that this year’s festival will be very different to its inaugural iteration back in February 2020, we are thrilled to be bringing the energy and spirit of Paisley and its people, their resilience and determination to look forward to a new and different future, to digital audiences this year. Whether you live in Paisley or not, we hope you’ll join us from wherever you are to celebrate the radical spirit that is well and truly alive in the world of books, and in the acts of reading and writing.”
book festival
The Festival also welcomes Glasgow-based writer, musician, and educator, Imogen Stirling, as its first Writer-in-Residence. This residency will see her hosting online workshops with Renfrewshire community groups in January and February 2021, and writing her own response to this year’s festival theme, Radical New Futures. Imogen will curate and host three festival events which include Imogen’s Big Night In with Dean AttaIona Lee and Emme Woods and Radicalism in Stillness with her  in conversation with Sarah Grant
Paisley Book Festival Co-Producer Keira Brown said: “Through support from Creative Scotland, we were delighted to appoint Glasgow-based writer, musician, and educator Imogen Stirling as our first Writer-in-Residence. Imogen has this week kicked off her online workshops with community groups across Renfrewshire enabling us to engage more local people as well as curating three of our wider book festival events. This new post has been such a significant addition to the Festival, and one which we hope will continue with future festivals.”
In addition, the Festival will host a schools and learning programme (branded #YoungFutures) by releasing a series of original videos, created by some of the UK’s most talented children and young adult authors. It will encourage schools across Paisley and Renfrewshire to watch these videos either at home or in their classrooms and engage with the authors’ ideas about what a radical future looks like to them.
The 2021 Paisley Book Festival programme has something for everyone and it looks forward to welcoming you to its digital stage.
Information | interviews | photographs contact: Wendy Niblock PR | wendyjniblock@btinternet.com | 07961 814834
Samaratans

STAFF at Braehead shopping centre will be turning Blue Monday into Brew Monday as a way of keeping in touch with one another during lockdown.

They are supporting the Samaritans’ Brew Monday event, on January 18 and have organised a virtual quiz on Zoom along with everyone having a cuppa.

Samaratans

The third Monday in January is traditionally known as Blue Monday – the saddest day of the year – and with many Braehead staff on furlough or working from home it was decided to do something to keep in touch with each other.

Lydia Brown, Braehead’s community development manager explains: “We usually have an event in the centre to bring a smile to everyone’s face on Blue Monday.

“But with this year being so different and the centre only open for essential shopping we decided to stage a Braehead Zoom quiz for staff. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with each other, have a quiz, a chat and a cuppa during these tough times.

“Because many of us are either on furlough or working from home, we don’t get to see and talk to each other as much as usual.

“It’s important that everyone reaches out to their colleagues and friends during lockdown.”

Braehead will stage two Brew Monday quiz sessions on Monday, with the centre’s operations manager, Paul Lucas acting as quizmaster.

The Samaritans launched Brew Monday to turn Blue Monday into something positive by encouraging people to get together over a warming cuppa. 

Go to www.samaritans.org for more information about Brew Monday and the charity, or if you want to chat to someone, call 116 123 for free.

Pro Score Academy

ProScore Academy are offering 1 to 1 coaching in adherence with ScotGov guidelines at Pro Fives in Paisley.

Pro Score Academy
Get in touch to stay active and book your session now.