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
Victoria Hollows, Renfrewshire Leisure Chief Executive.v1

But vibrant programme of digital content and services will be in place to support residents’ health and wellbeing during restrictions

Venues operated by Renfrewshire Leisure will temporarily close in line with the Scottish Government Covid-19 restrictions from Boxing Day.

Victoria Hollows, Renfrewshire Leisure Chief Executive.v1

The Level 4 measures coming into place across mainland Scotland on December 26th will be in place for at least three weeks, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

 

These restrictions mean that all leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and the heritage centre run by Renfrewshire Leisure must close to the public during that period.

 

While in-venue facilities will be closed, a vibrant and varied package of content – covering everything from fitness and wellbeing to storytelling and nostalgia – will be available at www.renfrewshireleisure.com and via the online REN TV channel.

 

A vast selection of library books are also available for download via the array of services offered online by Renfrewshire Libraries.

 

Outdoor non-contact sports will also continue, whilst they remain in line with Government guidance and that of individual sport governing bodies.

 

Direct Debit payments will not be taken in January in light of this latest announcement.

 

Renfrewshire Leisure Chief Executive Victoria Hollows said: “We hope that people understand why we have to suspend in-venue services to help protect our communities. We all hope that this latest period of increased restrictions will have the desired effect in reducing rates of transmission and that we can reopen later in January.

 

“Even though our venues will be closed, we remain here for our communities and our team will be working hard to continue to create and deliver content for our members and the wider community online and via social media and also through outdoor activity.

 

“While we cannot offer services in-venue, we hope that our work online and outdoor will help the wellbeing of the region’s residents and keep people safe and well at what is a challenging time for us all, perhaps even more so at this time of year.”

 

Plans had already been in place for a revised festive programme – as is normal – from December 24th until January 3rd (inclusive).

 

Details on service updates will be shared as soon as they are available online and via Renfrewshire Leisure’s social media channels.

fionn gavin

A secondary school pupil from Paisley will help influence the future of sporting activity in Scotland.

Fionn Gavin, aged 17 and a sixth-year student at St Andrew’s Academy, has been selected to sit on the sportscotland Young People’s Sports Panel for the next two years.

He will join other young people from all over Scotland to influence the future and raise the profile of sport in the country.

Renfrewshire Leisure’s Active Schools team had supported four local pupils in their application to sit on the panel with two getting to the final stages of selection.

Fionn’s has been asked to join the panel out of more than 150 young people who applied.

Fionn said: “When I got the phone call saying I had been selected for the panel I was overwhelmed with excitement and couldn’t believe it.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know my fellow peers on the panel and I can’t wait to get started to work as a team to make a difference to sport in Scotland.

“I am very grateful to my Active Schools Coordinators, David Rose and Erin Campbell along with the teachers in my PE Department, at St Andrew’s for helping me to become involved and pushing me to succeed in something I love.”

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “The Young People’s Sport Panel provides a national platform to represent the voice of young people across Scotland.

“The programme’s principle is that young people’s views are heard and valued and they have the opportunity to influence decision-making and drive change.

“Fionn has been involved with the Active Schools programme from a young age and has shown great commitment to sport. He has all the credentials to become a valued member of the panel and we are delighted he has been selected.

“He will also continue to work with groups in Renfrewshire to raise awareness and promote sporting activity.”fionn gavin

rainbow nursery

The show must go on as they say and Rainbow Nursery took those words to heart and made a fantastic movie, we were sent this in last night and its fun just pure fun, well worth a watch for any age… Here is the message I received and video from last night.

rainbow nursery

Louise Borris: Hi there I work in a little nursery on Paisley called Rainbow. Due to Covid restrictions, our annual Christmas Show was cancelled, and as we could not get out into the community to spread festive cheer, the 3-5 room decided to go digital and put a 2020 twist on this years show. Turns out our show is very popular and has succeeded in getting some Christmas cheer out into the wider community. We thought you might like a look at our superstars and hoped that you could also share our show out there to help us bring a smile to as many people as possible, everyone could do with a smile this year.

Paisley Grammar-high-res

Funding towards building a new state-of-the-art community campus to replace the existing Paisley Grammar School has been welcomed by Renfrewshire Council’s Education Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson.

The Scottish Government has announced that Paisley Grammar School is one of 25 schools across Scotland to receive funding from phase two of the £1bn Learning Estate Investment Programme.

Paisley Grammar-high-res

The committed funding from Scottish Government will be added to committed funding from the council towards building a new school with state-of-the-art technology, enhanced drama, performance, media and learning facilities and high-quality sports and outdoor areas.

Cllr Paterson said: “The announcement of additional funding for a Paisley Grammar Community Campus is very welcome. It’s good to know this funding is available to draw from if councillors approve the relocation proposals.

“Ensuring that all children and young people have the best learning environment possible is vital to ensure every pupil has the facilities and opportunities to reach their potential.”

The former Chivas site on Renfrew Road remains the preferred site to relocate the school. Parents pupils and the wider school community were consulted on proposals to relocate the school to this site in October this year.

Their responses, along with a recommendation to proceed, will go to councillors at the Education and Children’s Services Policy Board for consideration. If they approve the proposals, work will begin to take them forward.

Cllr Paterson added: “Councillors will carefully consider all the responses received from the school community early next year.”

To read the full consultation, visit www.renfrewshire,gov.uk/PaisleyGrammarConsultation on the council’s website.

Gallowhill 1

SCHOOL pupils have transformed the streets of Gallowhill into a colourful celebration of Christmas.

Almost 300 drawings and paintings by children from St Catherine’s and Gallowhill Primary schools have been displayed on lamp posts around the Paisley neighbourhood from Friday, December 18 to Friday, January 8.

Gallowhill 1

Newly-formed community group, Feel Good Gallowhill – who came up with the idea for a Children’s Festive Arts Trail to bring some festive cheer to the area – was supported by Renfrewshire Leisure’s Arts Team in turning the concept into reality.

Now residents can enjoy seeing the drawings and paintings of Christmas scenes everywhere they go along the Active Communities 5k Walking Route through Gallowhill.

Chairperson of the Feel Good Gallowhill group, Tracey Kerr said: “We’d like to thank the pupils from Gallowhill and St Catherine primaries for all their amazing artwork. Without that the art trail wouldn’t be happening and we hope it brightens up the community this Christmas.

“We’re a newly-formed group of volunteers who want to make Gallowhill better for the kids and give them something to do while trying to regain a sense of community spirit.

“Our group wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Families First and Active Communities and it’s a huge thank you to Kate Drummond from Renfrewshire Leisure for all her hard work.”

Head teacher at St Catherine’s Primary, Emma Henry said: “When we were asked to participate in the Festive Art Trail we jumped at the chance.

“Not only did this allow our pupils the opportunity to showcase their fantastic art talents, but it gave us the opportunity to spread a little festive cheer throughout Gallowhill.

“Our place within our community is very important to us, so being involved in local initiatives such as this throughout the year is something we relish.

“This experience has provided us with a further opportunity to teach our pupils about the importance of being good citizens.”

Sheila Hood, head teacher at Gallowhill Primary said: “The pupils thoroughly enjoyed creating their pieces of artwork and were so excited to see them appearing on lamp posts.

“It is really important for us as a school to contribute to our local community and if our Christmas pictures put a smile on the face of even just one person then our efforts have been worthwhile.”

Kate Drummond, Visual Arts Project Producer at Renfrewshire Leisure said: “These bright and joyous drawings and paintings will certainly brighten up the streets of Gallowhill.

“We also hope that the Festive Trail will encourage people to get out and about during the holidays with family and friends to enjoy a socially-distanced walk around the walking trail.

“And if you are a Gallowhill resident interested in making good things happen in your community, we’d encourage you to join the Feel Good Gallowhill group.

“The project forms part of our Future Paisley neighbourhood work in Gallowhill, West End, Glenburn and Foxbar.”

Future Paisley is a programme of economic, social and physical regeneration building on the work already done to use Paisley’s internationally-significant culture and heritage story to change its fortunes.

Go to https://www.renfrewshireleisure.com/childrens-festive-art-trail for more information about the project.

Renfrewshire House

Proposals for a major investment programme which will transform council housing in Renfrewshire over the next decade have been given the go-ahead.

The Regeneration and Renewal Programme will invest at least £100million in council housing over the next 10 years.

Renfrewshire House

The programme will create around 300 newbuild homes and deliver improvements to existing housing in eight areas in Johnstone, Paisley and Renfrew in its first phase.

Communities, Housing and Planning Convener Councillor Marie McGurk said: “This programme is a key part of our plans to help Renfrewshire recover and flourish following this pandemic. Having a safe, warm and affordable home is so important for the health and wellbeing of people.

“This programme will support our communities and help tackle fuel poverty as well as help achieve our climate change goals. No-one should have to live in fuel poverty and we know that the pandemic has made this situation worse for some people. We will address this by improving the energy efficiency of our homes within these regeneration areas, creating a better Renfrewshire for our communities.

“Covid-19 has had a major impact on our communities in Renfrewshire. It has also shown more than ever how important community is. We will be consulting and engaging with communities before finalising our plans for each area to ensure the work we are doing meets their needs and creates thriving places they can flourish in and be proud of for years to come.”

Phase one of the programme will focus on homes in Moorpark (Renfrew), Thrushcraigs (Paisley), Broomlands (Paisley) Howwood Road (Johnstone), Waverley Road (Paisley), Howard Street (Paisley), Auchentorlie/Seedhill (Paisley) and Springbank Road (Paisley). Proposals for a second phase will be developed in 2021.

The council will consult and engage with communities to develop comprehensive regeneration and renewal plans which will be individually tailored to meet the needs of each area.

The regeneration and renewal programme will build on the success of the Scottish Housing Quality Standard Programme, which invested £147million in council housing in Renfrewshire between 2010 and 2015. It will also sit alongside the Council’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan which, in partnership with housing associations, will create around 1,000 new affordable homes in Renfrewshire by 2022, including over 200 new Council houses.

It is part of the Council’s two-year economic and social recovery plan which will help Renfrewshire thrive in the wake of Covid-19. The plan was prepared in consultation with Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel and approved at a Council meeting today (Thursday 17 December).

The transformational programme will also create job and training opportunities in Renfrewshire and support the Council’s work to achieve its climate change targets by addressing fuel poverty and improving the energy efficiency performance of homes in these regeneration areas.

More than 3,500 homes in Renfrewshire have already had external insulation fitted after the council received £18.4million through the Scottish Government’s HEEPS:ABS funding programme. This work is estimated to have reduced Renfrewshire’s carbon output by 250,000 tonnes.

The Council, which is landlord to 12,000 homes in Renfrewshire, is already working to deliver over 400 newbuild council houses in areas including Johnstone Castle, Ferguslie Park and South West Johnstone and recently completed a project in Bishopton.

For more information about the programme, email strategyandplace@renfrewshire.gov.uk or call 0300 300 0222.

provost community awards

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron is searching for community heroes across Renfrewshire as nominations for the Provost’s Community Awards open for 2021. 

provost community awards

This year there are seven categories to nominate in, including a new category to recognise businesses who have adapted to ensure their survival during the Covid19 pandemic. You can nominate anyone who lives or works in Renfrewshire for the following categories:

  • Community Volunteer (sponsored by Glasgow Airport Ltd)
  • Community Group (sponsored by City Gate Construction)
  • Sporting Achievement (sponsored by ACRE Industrial)
  • Employee of the Year (sponsored by UNISON Renfrewshire)
  • Carers Award (sponsored by former Provost Nancy Allison)
  • Arts and Culture Award (sponsored by Renfrewshire Council)
  • Ingenuity in Business (sponsored by Provost Lorraine Cameron)

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “This year has been unlike any other and it’s important that we pay tribute to the local unsung heroes who keep our communities going.

“We have recently heard of the sad death of former Provost Nancy Allison, who established the very first awards in 1997, and I know, for certain, that Nancy would have been very happy that I have decided to go ahead this year, despite the pandemic.  She knew how important it was to recognise the big hearted people who support their communities and that is why we continue with these awards year after year.

“Earlier this year I awarded certificates to those who I know have gone the extra mile throughout the pandemic, but these awards are different – they come from the community themselves. Now it is your chance to tell me about the hard work that these groups and individuals do.

“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to have an event this year to celebrate these achievements, but we will make sure the winners are announced online and through other media channels. I know there are some fantastic people out there who really deserve to be recognised and I can’t wait to read your nominations.”

The deadline for entries to all categories is Friday 29 January 2021.

For more information, and to submit your nomination, visit http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/provostawards2021, or email provostawards@renfrewshire.gov.uk

pro score academy

ProScore Academy offers UEFA qualified football coaching to boys and girls aged 4-18. We provide 1 to 1 sessions, run player centres and are involved with improving local football teams.

pro score academy

Based at Pro Fives Paisley, ProScore aims to deliver a professional and fun coaching experience to players within Renfrewshire. Get in touch to book now!

mental health support

A first-of-its-kind commission has revealed the devastating impact harmful alcohol and drug use has on people’s lives, and its findings have been brought into even sharper focus as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

In its findings published today, the Renfrewshire Alcohol and Drugs Commission is the first to look at the issues for both alcohol and drugs and saw and heard first-hand evidence from more than 300 people and organisations who had their own personal or professional experience of alcohol and drug use.

mental health support

Renfrewshire has some of the highest levels of harm caused by alcohol and drug use in Scotland

  • alcohol hospital admissions – 808 per 100,000 (2018/19)
  • drug hospital admissions – 210 per 100,000 (2018/19)
  • 50 alcohol deaths in 2019
  • 50 drug deaths in 2019
  • Parental drug use involved in 38 of 70 child protection cases (October 2020).

The report highlights that people’s complex mental health needs mean they often struggled to find someone to talk to and get the right support they need, especially for young people. Long waits for mental health services, people having to turn to emergency services in a crisis and the significant trauma people have experienced were all seen as significant barriers.

While many people already access the different services available in Renfrewshire, the Commission found that there were people experiencing significant harm who should be in touch with treatment services but weren’t – known as hidden harm – and those who are in contact said they really need services to wrap around them and their families.

Further support is also needed to further tackle young people using alcohol and drugs at a young age through mental health initiatives, education, such as Personal and Social Education lessons, and adolescent-focused alcohol and drug recovery services.

In response, Renfrewshire councillors will next week consider the first set of funding proposals from a £2million package of investment from the Council to tackle some of the challenges raised.

The commission began in 2019 and brought in a range of highly respected health, social care, justice, third sector and community experts. The coronavirus pandemic led to the Commission extending its research to consider how this might further impact their findings.

Findings include:

  • the pandemic has exacerbated existing issues like loneliness and isolation, often key drivers for alcohol and drug use, and highlights the importance of feeling part of the community to supporting recovery
  • support for mental health issues is perceived as being difficult to access or not there at all, with particular concern noted for the impact of poor mental health on children and young people
  • the availability and presence of alcohol and drugs and how easy it is to get them was an issue across all ages
  • urgent work is needed to help people access mental health resources as well as enabling community and voluntary groups to provide much-needed outreach work to link people with existing services.

Alan McNiven, Chief Executive of Engage Renfrewshire, said that the commission focused on real lived experience of people affected by alcohol and drugs and that partnership working will enable Renfrewshire to offer the much-needed community and peer support for both prevention and recovery.

Alan said: “I was keen to be involved as I knew the commission would be connecting with existing strategies active in Renfrewshire around education, poverty, culture, employment – all areas of work that Renfrewshire’s Third Sector Network has connections and commitments to. The work of the commission adds to Renfrewshire’s partnership approach – an approach that seeks to achieve the best possible outcomes for Renfrewshire as a whole, as well as for individuals who require our care and support.

“The engagement sessions ensured we heard from the wider community – service users, young people, and third sector delivery organisations. It was vitally important that the voices of people with lived experience and those who work in alcohol and drug services influenced the commission’s enquiry and the final recommendations.

“Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of the community planning approach in Renfrewshire. Strong cross-sector and multi-agency partnerships already exist here, but we need more. The commission identified Renfrewshire’s third sector agencies as providing important services around the alcohol and drugs agenda. The Third Sector also brings important experience to the collective leadership approach that will be required to properly deliver the proposed recommendations.”

Following the publication of the report, Renfrewshire Council has pledged £2million funding to target the Commission’s recommendations, with an initial package of measures being considered by councillors at a meeting next week.

Funding proposals will include:

  • £510k for mental health programmes – seen as key drivers for both prevention and recovery – including funding for an intensive support pilot for children and young people, a crisis mental health service for the community and for a quicker service-lead response to people affected by trauma.
  • £550k for an outreach, community-centred model for people not engaged in alcohol and drug services, peer-to-peer support and a Recovery Change Fund for community and voluntary sector organisations to access.
  • £150k for education and health improvement as well as a further study to better understand the hidden harm of alcohol and drugs – people who haven’t reached out for help.

Chair of the Renfrewshire Alcohol and Drugs Commission and Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership Integrated Joint Board, Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on people struggling with alcohol and drug use and we know isolation has made it worse for many people and their families across Renfrewshire. What has been made very clear is the amount of hidden suffering that so many people suffer, unable to reach out and access support and sometimes not feeling part of a community that can support them.

“We hope this will fundamentally transform the support that people who use drugs and alcohol and their families can access when they need it most. The pandemic has brought these issues into sharp focus and we are determined to make a difference. Our new approach will make it easier for people to access the support within their own community and be there whenever they need it.”

The full report can be read on the council’s website – www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/Alcohol-Drugs-Commission.