Renfrewshire’s bid to clean up Renfrewshire is being backed by local community groups who are urging others to follow their lead.

Litter Pick at Knockhill Park 2.11.17

The campaign aims to bring together the community to tackle issues such as littering, fly tipping, dog fouling and recycling to make Renfrewshire a cleaner, more attractive place to live, work and visit.

Kristina Semple helps lead a team of volunteers who are aiming to bring back the beauty to the Renfrew White Cart Riverbank and have undertaken a number of clean ups since the campaign began.

Kristina said: “The Team up to Clean up Campaign has made it easy for our Volunteer River Tidy project to clean up the area, by providing litter pickers, bags and gloves for each organised litter tidy.

“After each litter pick, they quickly picked up what we had collected, which was many bags of rubbish and many bigger items like bits of a motor bike, several shopping trolleys, chairs, a huge camera box, signage, car tyre metal and so on.

“As a result, the White Cart river bank looks much more like a natural place again and local people and wildlife are able to enjoy it more.

“It’s a satisfying thing to do as you can see the difference straight away, and it’s especially impressive when there are lots of people. It builds a sense of community, sparks new friendships, cements old ones, gets people moving, and it’s great to have something to do outdoors.”

Heather Clissit runs the Erskine Community Garden group which aims to make a difference to the environment in Erskine and has worked closely with national charity Keep Scotland Beautiful on a number of projects, including winning an award for her ‘Pick me up before you go-go’ photography piece.

Heather said: “The Team Up To Clean Up campaign is a great way for people within Renfrewshire to take action and work with Renfrewshire Council to tackle the issue of the various forms of litter within our communities.

“Apart from the satisfaction of seeing a dirty footpath become clean, there is also the benefit of being out in the fresh air, getting some gentle exercise, working in a team and socialising, with many of our volunteers feelling the litter picks are therapeutic.

“The support we get from our community is amazing. Even if they can’t join us, they are always encouraging, appreciative and don’t take the work we do for granted.

“Some look for other ways to support us – one of our local pubs The Bridgewater, put on a lunch for us of homemade soup and sandwiches, tea coffee and biscuits for our 10 volunteers at the last litter pick and have pledged to send a team from the pub to take part in the litter picks, throughout 2018.”

To ensure the campaign is a joint project between the Council and the community, £250,000 has been invested to increase the council resources in road sweeping, gully cleaning, litter picking and the replacement of out of date roads infrastructure.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “We are delighted that the community are getting on board with the campaign and striving to make a difference to their local area.

“We’re committed to providing the support and resource needed to make a real difference to Renfrewshire and the support of community groups is crucial to our ability to ensure the cleanliness of our local areas.

“We need to change the mindset of people who think it is acceptable to litter, fail to pick up after their dog or think that recycling is someone else’s job.

“We need everyone to take part wherever they possibly can so join our campaign on Facebook, check out the information on our website and together we can Team Up to Clean Up Renfrewshire.”

Find out more about the campaign via www.renfrewshire .gov.uk/teamuptocleanup and join the conversation on Facebook by searching for ‘Team Up to Clean Up Renfrewshire’.

A pilot project is using Virtual Reality to hook up older and isolated members of the community to cultural experiences they would otherwise be unable to access.

Pensioner Ruth Clunie, aged 98 tries out new virtual reality for the housebound 14.12.17

Thanks to support from Renfrewshire Council’s Culture, Heritage and Events (CHE) Fund, housebound and elderly members of Paisley-based Roar Connections for Life, are having their horizons opened up by the technology.

The fund was set up in 2015 as a way of getting people involved in culture and unlocking Renfrewshire’s creative potential as part of Paisley’s bid to win the UK City of Culture 2021 title.

It continues as a key legacy now that the competition is over, with applications from local groups invited for further rounds of funding.

Pensioner Ruth Clunie, aged 98 tries out new virtual reality for the housebound 14.12.17

The ‘VR Over the Doorstep’ project is being tested in the community by people befriended by the charity, which provides preventative, health and wellbeing services for older people.

Film maker and Virtual Reality Artist Simon Bishopp, said: “The idea is to involve isolated and mobility impaired elderly people in the Renfrewshire community to allow them to engage with cultural events and activities that they can’t physically travel to.

“We will visit them with Virtual Reality headsets so they’ll be able to see and interact with things that have happened in the area.

“At the moment we’re going through the testing phase and are making the apps which allows them to travel around virtual spaces – so they can visit physical spaces that we’ve filmed and then engage with things there simply by looking at them.”

The users will be able to go to places like Paisley Museum and by simply by looking at the virtual exhibits, the objects will become larger and closer to them and rotate. Even online UK Casinos.

A narrator will take them through the museum and they will be able to move from one room to the next to create an immersive experience that feels like they’re actually there.”

The six months pilot scheme also aims to offer live stream events like theatre productions.

Virtual Reality can also be used to take the housebound and elderly members to significant places from their past that they wouldn’t normally be able to revisit.

Simon added: “We can take them to spaces that they wouldn’t easily be able to access, like the Coats Observatory in Paisley.

“We also intend to do some live streaming and hope to do that from the new High Street Museum store in Paisley, the Secret Collection, which is full of wonderful exhibits.

“So we will create content on multiple apps and then take that out to see what people think of it. I hope it will give them a sense of mobility and of being able to engage with the community and leaving behind the isolation they can feel.

“We’ve taken a film at the RSPB in Lochwinnoch and the members really enjoyed being able to see what was going outside of where they spend their days and being outside, hearing the sounds and seeing the birds.

“For us that’s a very every day thing, but for them it’s very special.”

Roar has 15 clubs and projects in a range of venues running throughout the week in Renfrewshire.

Roar’s Manager Nicola Hanssen said: “This is a very exciting project. Research has identified that two fifths of all older people say the television is their main company. As this is a very passive activity it doesn’t give people the cognitive stimulation or interactivity that contains health benefits. Our VR Over the Doorstep project will engage people in a new and more meaningful way, which will enrich their lives and their minds.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The UK City of Culture bid about bringing people together and opening up new experiences for people which is what this project does. That doesn’t stop just because we didn’t win the title and we will continue to open up the benefits of culture for all.”

For more information on the CHE Fund, which is still receiving funding applications for cultural events and projects, go towww.paisley2021.co.uk

Paisley enjoyed a bumper shopping bonanza in the run up to Christmas thanks to town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and the WinterFest event.

Local businesses and town centre traders reported soaring sales and a massive spike in festive footfall.

Paisley’s increased profile due to the UK City of Culture 2021 bid and  a series of events including the Christmas Lights switch on and town’s first’s WinterFest , run by Paisley First,  were credited with enticing more people into the heart of the town.

The festival ran from November 24th for four weeks and included a Nutcracker Trail during the first two weeks of December

Peter Clark, Manager of the Paisley Centre said traders enjoyed a lucrative Christmas with customer footfall up by more than a third on last year’s figures.

He said: “For the same period last year we had approximately 65,000 customer visits per week but this year’s figures are showing more than 100,000, which is incredible and a huge increase.

Paisley 2021 Sponsers 23.11.17

“We have been very busy and at weekends every seat in our food court was taken. More people are shopping locally.

“Paisley’s bid for City of Culture really heightened the town’s profile and I think local people also rediscovered their town centre.

“WinterFest has also brought a lot of people in. We had a message on our Facebook page from a visitor who had come here for that but said they didn’t realise they could also do all their Christmas shopping here and stayed.”

He said he expected the increased sales to continue into the New Year, with six new outlets poised to open within the Centre, which has 34 units trading not including the Paisley Market and a food court.

Peter Clark added: “There’s a great buzz about Paisley and it’s a changed place even since last year.”

Paisley First’s Chairman Ian Henderson said:  “There has been a real buzz about Paisley this year and this is in no small part due to some of the great events happening in the town centre as part of the Paisley  campaign for the UK City of Culture 2021.

“It’s important that we continue to showcase all that Paisley has to offer, and the Paisley First WinterFest has been a great example of that.

“Many retailers are reporting a significant increase in footfall and sales volumes, and it’s been great to see the town centre busy in the run up to Christmas, especially with families at weekends.”

Cheryl Wilson, owner of Home and gift store Eigen, said the store had been busier this year.

She said: “We’ve had more customers in and Paisley seems to be busier than usual. I can see a huge difference from when I came on board 18 months ago and I think more people are trying to shop locally.

“It won’t happen overnight but it’s certainly going in the right direction.”

Joe Bisland, co-owner of the White Cart Company, said: “We’ve been busy and the Nutcracker Trail brought lots of family in and we had people visiting the store who wouldn’t normally.

“We’ve had a lot of ladies buying for their friends and we do a range of traditional Christmas toys which sold well.

“As Christmas approached we got increasingly busier and we got a last minute rush when the panic set in the weekend before.”

Gavin Wilson, the owner of record store Feel the Groove, which opened its doors in November 2016, said that overall there has been a general good feeling throughout the town both for business owners and retailers and customers.

He added: “Our sales have been strong and we’ve seen people out with the area and even the UK come into the shop.

“The Christmas product that we sell looks like it’s up on last year in terms of new releases and new albums and present buying.  The whole bid has brought a stronger awareness to the people of Paisley and surrounding areas of the town centre.”

Iain Nicolson, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said:  “Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture created a lot of momentum and we aim to build on that.

“We are investing  £45.7 million in the town centre, with  £10m of that set aside for transport and public realm improvements to support its long-term regeneration.

“This means it will be even easier for people to get here, as well as making it a more attractive place to spend time.

“We are working towards turning our High Street into a cultural hub which will breathe new life into the town centre and bring in footfall to ensure that local traders will thrive.”

Bob Grant, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The UK City of Culture bid put Paisley at the forefront of people’s minds and helped to reposition it on the local and UK stage as a good place to live, work and invest.

“The competition may be over, but work continues to create a new visitor economy based around Paisley’s unique heritage assets, creating jobs and footfall for local traders.”

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Residents and visitors are being urged to stay safe over the festive and New Year period by preparing for journeys in advance.

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Revellers are being asked to consider pre-booking their taxis to and from their night out and advised to only use licensed taxis and private hire vehicles to get home safely.

Councillor John McNaughtan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Regulatory Functions Board, is encouraging party-goers to look after their friends while out enjoying the festivities.

Councillor McNaughtan said: “During the festive season, people are out and about more often than at other times of the year which can lead to an increase in demand for taxis.

“It is important that people are safe when out enjoying themselves and pre-booking your taxi home can save you and your friends waiting about in the cold weather.

“We want everyone to enjoy their time visiting Renfrewshire so make sure you plan in advance and make sure everyone in your group gets home safe.”

Taxis for public hire in Renfrewshire are all white in colour, can be hailed in the street or pre booked, and rank at Glasgow Airport and Paisley Gilmour Street Station.

While private hire vehicles must be pre booked in advance through a private hire car company, of which there are several in Paisley, Johnstone, Linwood, Renfrew and Erskine.

All vehicles should have a Renfrewshire Council taxi or private hire plate on the front and rear of the vehicle and the driver should be displaying a badge within the vehicle, with private hire vehicles also having window stickers displaying the licence details on rear passenger windows.

For more information visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/taxisandprivatehires.

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Renfrewshire Council has underlined its commitment to support care experienced children and young people ensuring they enjoy the same opportunities as their non-care experienced peers.

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Councillors today (Thursday 21 December) agreed a £100,000 fund for looked-after children to use towards educational, cultural, social and employability activities.

Councillor Jim Paterson, Renfrewshire Council’s Convener of Education and Children’s Services, said: “I have the distinct privilege of being a member of the Children’s Champions Board and I’ve been fortunate to spend time with care experienced young people from across Renfrewshire to understand what support they need.

“We have announced today a dedicated £100,000 fund which supplements our existing funding in place and will ensure these vulnerable young people enjoy the same opportunities as their non-care experienced peers.

“How this additional money is spent will be up to the children and young people in our care, but this fund is vitally important to ensuring they have a say in what works best for them.

“In Renfrewshire, we are ambitious for all children and young people to have the same opportunities and be able to reach their full potential, regardless of their background. This funding underlines our commitment to care experienced children and young people to ensure as Corporate Parents we provide them with the best start in life and the best opportunities.”

Motorists are being warned that there is a zero tolerance for drink driving as the festive period approaches.

The festive awareness campaign has put extra patrols on Scotland’s roads throughout December to tackle offenders, as well as highlighting the consequences of being found guilty of drink driving.

Last year, one in 30 drivers stopped during the festive season were over the legal limit, compared with one in 35 over the same period in the previous year.

Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “It is important that drivers are aware of the risks drinking and driving can pose, especially during the festive period.

“Not only will you lose your license and receive a criminal record, you are putting your own and the lives of other road users at risk.

“It is imperative that you plan ahead to ensure the safety of the roads during the party season, including preparing how you will get home from your night out in advance and for any journeys the following day.

“One drink is too many when it comes to getting behind the wheel so don’t risk it.”

More than 20,000 drivers are stopped by the police every month and, in the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter if you’re only slightly over the limit, you are still a drunk driver and a criminal – there is no grey area.

Scottish Government Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, said: “Unfortunately there is a persistent minority of drivers who continue to ignore the law.

“This campaign reinforces that drink driving is unacceptable and, if you get caught, you will get a minimum 12 month driving ban, a criminal record for a lengthy period and a substantial fine.

“I welcome the action being taken by Road Safety Scotland and Police Scotland to tackle those who think it is okay to have a drink and drive their car.”

For more information, log onto www.dontriskit.info or visit the Road Safety Scotland on Facebook and Twitter.

St. Vincent’s Hospice have been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the local community following the break in and robbery of one of their charity shops in Paisley earlier this week.

The Hospice, which provides specialist palliative care for individuals with life limiting illnesses, reported that their Glenburn store had been broken into in the early hours of Monday 18 December. Along with the contents of the till and safe, the thieves caused extensive damage to the shop itself.

In the days since the news came out, members of the local community have come out in force to support the charity, offering money, time and effort to help spread the word, raise awareness and get them back on their feet in time for Christmas.

Chief Executive of St. Vincent’s Hospice, Kate Lennon, said: “This week started with the shocking and sad news that someone would do this to a charity which works so hard for people during some of the most difficult times of their lives. In the few short days since then, however, we have been absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of so many people from throughout the community, who were committed to getting us back on our feet in time for Christmas.”

The Hospice has received hundreds of pounds in donations via anonymous drop-ins and their JustGiving page. This included Olivia Anderson, who made the incredible donation of £640, on behalf of her family in memory of her Mum who was cared for in the Hospice.

Along with offers of support from trade workers and organisations offering to carry out work to repair the damage to the shop. After learning that the door to the shop was damaged beyond repair, local joiner William Galloway contacted his suppliers at A1 Ironmongers and is now supplying and fitting a brand new door completely free of charge.

Moya and Willie Paton also went above and beyond the call of duty, stopping by the store the day after the break-in to provide them with a new cash register, to let them get up and running.

Kate added: “There are too many people to thank individually, but whether you have made a cash donation, shared out posts across social media or offered your time and effort to help fix the store, please know how humbled and grateful we are for all of your support. Our team work extremely hard 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and to see how much this means to so many is genuinely heart-warming, especially so close to Christmas.

“We are delighted to say that the shop is once again open for business, and on behalf of everyone at St. Vincent’s Hospice, I would like to say thank you all and we hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.”

You can continue to support St. Vincent’s Hospice via their JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/stvincents/donate

An awarding winning youth programme has launched a festive timetable for youngsters across Renfrewshire.

Street Stuff, the youth engagement arm of St Mirren Football Club, is open to kids aged between 8-18 and the festive timetable will run throughout the holidays at St Mirren Park until January 3rd.

The initiative, which is run in partnership with Renfrewshire Council, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Engage Renfrewshire, will still run its usual timetable  of free football and dance activities over the holidays.

It is also offering youngsters who attend a festive dinner a free match ticket to see the first team squad play Dundee United on December 29th.

Kids who sign up to the free Christmas meal on December 27th at the Paisley 2021 Stadium are guaranteed entry to the match, with lots more prizes to be won on the night.

Councillor Marie McGurk, Renfrewshire Council’s Convener of Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “Renfrewshire’s award-winning Street Stuff programme will entertain hundreds of young people this Christmas as the special festive timetable takes place.

“There is a fantastic range of activities happening across the holiday period and taking part is a great way for local young people to get out and have fun in a safe, healthy and positive environment.

“The programme also helps young people meet other people their own age and stay fit and active at a time of year when exercise sometimes takes a back seat. They have access to high quality facilities, top class coaching and a healthy meal during the festive break.

“The programme really does makes a difference in our local communities.”

Youngsters can pick up an application form from any of the Street Stuff venues or sign up on the day.

For more details visit: https://twitter.com/SMFCStreetStuff

The most prestigious night in Scotland’s music calendar is to stay in Paisley – after it was confirmed the Scottish Album of the Year Award will return to the town in 2018.

The SAY Award – the most coveted music prize in Scotland – will take place in Paisley Town Hall for a third consecutive year on a date to be confirmed in August 2018.

The event was brought back to Paisley after a successful bid from Renfrewshire Council, as part of a wider plan to promote the town as a key destination for culture and events within Scotland.

Although Paisley lost out to Coventry in its bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, bid bosses believe the return of the SAY Award is one of many ways the bid momentum will continue.

The SAY Award goes to the Scottish artist deemed to have produced the year’s outstanding album. It started in 2012 and is organised by the Scottish Music Industry Association.

Sacred Paws won this year’s SAY Award for their debut album Strike a Match – chosen from a ten-album shortlist by a panel of independent judges.

The ceremony in Paisley in June was hosted by Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan, broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland, and watched by an audience of the country’s best creative talent.

Other previous winners include Anna Meredith, Kathryn Joseph, Young Fathers, RM Hubbert and Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells.

Dougal Perman, chair of the SMIA said: “We’re delighted that Paisley will host the seventh Scottish Album of the Year Award.

“Scotland’s national music prize has flourished in Paisley and while we are sad and disappointed that Paisley didn’t win their bid for UK City of Culture 2021, we are excited about the transformative cultural journey the town is on and excited to be a part of it.

“Through our invited guests, public ballot for seats at the ceremony and live broadcasts, we look forward to welcoming as many people as possible to join us in celebrating excellence in Scottish music in Paisley at the end of August 2018.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “The SAY Award is one of the biggest nights of the year in Scottish music and we are delighted it’s coming back to Paisley for another year.

“Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 put the town on a Scotland-wide stage in terms of hosting events of national importance and that was always going to continue regardless of the result.

“The SMIA could have taken this event anywhere but for them to choose to come back here shows the extent to which Paisley is now recognised as one of Scotland’s centres of cultural excellence.

“The town has a fantastic musical heritage – from Gerry Rafferty through to Paolo Nutini – and a thriving music scene, including our annual Spree festival each October, at which many of the previous SAY Award winners and shortlisted acts have played.

“Paisley Town Hall makes a striking venue and we look forward to welcoming the country’s music industry back to the town for what will be another momentous night next August.”

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Renfrewshire Council’s Homeless Service staff are getting ready to support anyone who becomes homeless during the festive break, ensuring they get the help they need.

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The Housing Advice and Homeless Services office at 15 Abercorn Street, Paisley, will be open on 27, 28 and 29 December for people to drop-in for advice and assistance.

For anyone who can’t make it along or who may need help on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, at night or during the weekend, an out-of-hours emergency helpline – 0800 121 4466 – is available, and staff will be on hand to arrange temporary accommodation, if required.

Convener of Communities, Housing and Planning at Renfrewshire Council, Councillor Marie McGurk, said: “Homelessness can happen at any point of time and we want people to be aware of the help and support available to them should that happen during the festive break.

“Renfrewshire offers preventative support to anyone who believes that they may become homeless and I would urge people who need this service to contact the George Street Service or our team at Abercorn Street before the festive break begins.”

People can drop into either the George Street Service at 31/33 George Street, Paisley (or call 0141 618 5785) or visit 15 Abercorn Street (0300 300 0222) during office hours to access preventative help and support.

Specialist help to prevent some of the causes of homelessness is also available from: Renfrewshire Women’s Aid – 0800 025 7603; Renfrewshire Advice Works – 0300 300 1238; Paisley Threads (support for young people) – 0141 884 6696 and; RCA Trust (support for alcohol addiction) – 0141 887 0880.