Renfrewshire's libraries

It was one for the record books as avid reader Ann Clark was the first person to visit Johnstone Library after it re-opened after months of lockdown.

The sprightly 77-year-old was at the head of the queue before the library opened at 10am to return 15 books and borrow another nine books to keep up with her favourite pastime of reading.

Renfrewshire's libraries

As she clutched her latest supply of books outside Johnstone Library, Ann, from Kilbarchan said:

“Being able to visit the library was the thing I missed most during lockdown. I’ve loved reading since I was a young girl and I always had my nose in a book.

“I was overjoyed when I heard the library was reopening, as I visit the library twice a week and I must be their most regular customer.”

Ann whose favourite books are romance novels and wartime stories added: “When the library was closed over the past few months I got books from friends and I even read some books twice.”

All 12 Renfrewshire Leisure libraries re-opened yesterday (Monday) for members to return titles and pick up books they had ordered by phone or online by click and collect.

The move comes after the Scottish Government last week gave the go-ahead for libraries to open as part of the move into Phase 3 of the route map out of the coronavirus pandemic.

To keep both staff and the public safe, only one customer at a time will be alllowed into a library to drop off books, or collect pre-ordered books and face coverings should be worn inside the building.

It has also been decided that there won’t be any fines for people returning overdue books.

Renfrewshire Leisure’s chairperson, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “We encourage people of all ages to read books, as it brings enjoyment and knowledge into our lives.

“Libraries have always been an important resource in our community and it’s brilliant to be able to open up our libraries again and provide a vital service to the public.

“Due to the current coronaviris guidelines from the Scottish Government we will have to operate our libraries in a different way for the time being. But I’m sure our customers will understand and we thank them for their patience and willingness to abide by these guidelines as we welcome them back.”

Renfrewshire’s libraries are at: Bishopton; Bridge of Weir; Erskine; Ferguslie; Foxbar; Glenburn; Johnstone; Lochwinnoch; Linwood; Paisley Central Library; Ralston and Renfrew.

Books can be reserved online at www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk or by telephone on 0300 300 1188.

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An innovative package of support to help Renfrewshire businesses recover from the effects of lockdown has been given the green light by councillors.

And the £1.3m funding boost agreed today by members of Renfrewshire Council’s Emergencies Board has also been welcomed by some of the area’s key economic leaders.

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The proposals were developed as a result of an in-depth survey which saw staff from the council and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce speak to more than 500 businesses – around 10% of Renfrewshire’s total – about the issues coronavirus has caused for them.

The council then used the results of that to develop a new package of short-term funding which will now be open for local firms to apply for from mid-August. It includes:

– £500k for zero-interest business restart loans of up to £5,000 to help small-and-medium-sized business with short-term cashflow;

– £400k for grants of up to £10,000 to help sustain businesses and plan for growth in the medium term;

– £250k for grants of up to £2,500 to help businesses adapt their premises to allow for physical distancing;

– £150k to help fund expert advice to businesses in crisis and self-employed people over training and access to funding;

The money is coming from within existing council budgets for business support and is expected to be the first stage of a longer-term economic recovery plan.

And the package of support has been backed by members of the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel.

Bob Grant, chief executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The survey exercise in partnership with Renfrewshire Council has been the largest ever of the business community in Renfrewshire and we warmly welcome the innovative package of funding as a direct response to the key issues highlighted.

“In addition to these measures Renfrewshire Chamber will fund two initiatives launching at the end of July: Development of a peer-to-peer business mentoring service and a unique Transform training program which will help companies to innovate, re-design and develop new strategies to mitigate the impacts of Covid and identify future opportunities.”

Grant Edmondson, Hillington Park commercial director for Frasers Property UK – the majority owner of Scotland’s biggest business park, home to around 500 organisations – also welcomed the news.

He said: “We are happy to see the majority of Hillington Park businesses are now back open and operating, albeit significantly below capacity.

“We’re aware however many are concerned about the speed of pick-up in demand for their products and services over the next few months, with impact on cashflow as government support tapers off.

“The new business support package being announced by Renfrewshire Council is therefore extremely welcome at this point and we would encourage local businesses to get in touch with the council and apply for the support when applications open.”

Lydia Brown, Community Development Manager for intu Braehead said: “Businesses have been going through unprecedented times recently and only now, as lockdown restrictions are easing, do they have the opportunity to start the process of economic recovery.

“Many businesses still need support to help them kick-start their revival and this assistance from Renfrewshire Council can play a vital role in this.

“If any businesses – large or small – can benefit from this extra funding they should certainly apply to find out if they qualify for the assistance.

“The people running businesses in Renfrewshire are very creative and resilient and thankfully, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve no doubt we will get there and the Renfrewshire economy will come back as strong as ever.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “I am pleased this package of business support was backed by councillors today. We have prioritised this investment as we are determined to do all we can to support the local economy and protect local jobs through what will be a tough period ahead.

“We wanted to make sure the support we are offering was based on what businesses need – and the extensive work we and the Chamber did to establish what that was has been hugely valuable to us in terms of understanding the challenges facing our businesses.”

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Renfrewshire Council will not be progressing with the remainder of its events programme this year, as part of ongoing measures to help to manage the coronavirus pandemic and minimise the risk of local outbreaks.

The decision, which was confirmed at the Council’s Emergencies Board, means that the Paisley fireworks and Christmas lights switch-on events in Paisley, Renfrew and Johnstone will not be going ahead in 2020.

Paisley Xmas Lights 16.11.19-3639

Currently a ban on mass gatherings is in place across Scotland and when lifted it is expected that restrictions will remain in place for some time, including physical distancing measures and advice to avoid crowded places. The decision not to run the winter programme, which attracts tens of thousands annually, also takes into account the lengthy planning time required to safely organise major events.

Christmas Lights will still be displayed across Renfrewshire and work is ongoing with local organisations to plan activities that will safely attract footfall and visitors to Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew over the festive period, including boosting the council’s Spend Local campaign to encourage people to shop local and support local traders and high streets.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Cllr Iain Nicolson said: “I know this will be disappointing news for everyone who supports and attends our popular winter programme and we are sorry that these events cannot go ahead this year. I hope everyone will understand that we must put public health first and will do everything we can to be back in 2021.

“Scottish Government guidance currently prevents mass gatherings from taking place and since we announced the cancellation of our summer and autumn programme, major events and festivals across the country have continued to be cancelled. Even if the restrictions due to coronavirus were relaxed, physical distancing measures are likely to remain in place for some time to ensure we do not experience local outbreaks and a further lockdown.

“Our major events take months of extensive planning and organising – and with uncertainty over how and when they can return, we have to take this difficult, but prudent decision now.

“We are proud of the social and economic impacts the events programme contributes to our communities – and we will continue to focus on delivering a fantastic events programme in 2021, working closely with national bodies and following public health advice.”

The Council is continuing to work closely with businesses across Renfrewshire to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and support reopening, with the announcement of a £1.3m package of support to help local businesses get back on their feet.

Renfrewshire Council advises everyone to stay safe and continue to follow the national guidance on coronavirus set out by the Scottish Government.

For the latest local updates, visit our ‘Information, help and guidance on Coronavirus’ webpage here: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus

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A Paisley site of strategic importance for Renfrewshire’s long-term economic and community development is to be brought into public ownership.

Renfrewshire Council has agreed terms to conclude its purchase of the bulk of the 24-acre site at Renfrew Road from Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Brothers. It is anticipated ownership of the site will transfer to the Council later this year.

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Bringing the site into public ownership will allow the Council to explore a range of possible development opportunities, including new transport links, economic and community uses, supporting the region’s economic recovery from the impact of Coronavirus.

Situated to the north of the town centre, the sizeable site sits between West College Scotland’s Paisley campus and Abbotsinch Retail Park, with the White Cart river to the west.

The Council is exploring options for an economic development corridor along the White Cart, improving connections from Paisley town centre to the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland under development next to Glasgow Airport.

The Chivas Brothers land has been identified as a possible site for a new Paisley Grammar School, with a public consultation to take place at a future date.

The remainder of the site is being purchased by Scottish Leather Group, which is converting the North Hall into a new car seat upholstery facility as the UK’s largest leather manufacturer expands its Renfrewshire operations, bringing with it a further 100 high-skilled jobs.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the local, national and global economies and we must be ready and able to tackle the social and economic harm now and in the months ahead.

“We have awarded more than £25million in government grants to businesses to provide immediate support and have consulted with more than 500 businesses and enterprise and education leaders as we develop a roadmap for Renfrewshire’s economic recovery, with a central focus on retaining and creating jobs.

“I am pleased that, following detailed negotiations with Chivas Brothers over the last two years, we have been able to conclude a contract for the future purchase of this site. Securing its public ownership will enable us to consider a range of development opportunities which support long-term growth of the local economy and bring benefits to the surrounding communities.

“The Chivas Brothers site provided many local jobs over the years and I am pleased that while one chapter is closing, this purchase will ensure the site continues to play a vital role in the region’s future for many years to come.”

Iain McFadyen, CEO of Scottish Leather Group said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured the North Hall part of the Chivas Brothers site which will allow us to expand our operations in Renfrewshire. The site will initially employ 100 people cutting leather for premium automotive interiors.”

Jean-Christophe Coutures, Chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers, said: “We are delighted to have confirmed the sale of our Paisley site to Renfrewshire Council and Scottish Leather Group. Together they bring significant opportunity to the local area, with the latter creating 100 new high-skilled jobs.

“The site has played an important role in the local community for many years, so we’re pleased this sale will allow it to continue to leave a positive economic and cultural legacy in Paisley.”

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Renfrewshire Council has unveiled plans for a £1.3m package of support designed to help local businesses get back on their feet after the coronavirus lockdown.

The proposals – including crisis loans, grants and advice services – were based on the results of a detailed survey of local firms run by the council and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

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The council and chamber between them spoke to more than 500 companies – around 10% of Renfrewshire’s businesses – by phone and email to understand the issues they are facing and what would help them emerge from lockdown.

And members of the council’s Emergencies Board will this week be asked to approve proposals for several new funds targeting short-term support to the local economy. They include:

– £500k for zero-interest business restart loans of up to £5,000 to help small-and-medium-sized business with short-term cashflow;

– £400k for grants of up to £10,000 to help sustain businesses and plan for growth in the medium term;

– £250k for grants of up to £2,500 to help businesses adapt their premises to allow for physical distancing;

– £150k to help fund expert advice to businesses in crisis and self-employed people over training and access to funding;

The money is coming from within existing council budgets for business support and is expected to be the first stage of a longer-term economic recovery plan being developed by the council in partnership with the local business sector through the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel.

If the proposals are approved when the board meets on Friday, council officers would put in place and promote a process for firms to apply for the support from mid-August.

The measures are being announced in the same week as Scotland’s non-essential shops, bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen – and as the council launches its Renfrewshire Spend Local campaign, encouraging residents to support local traders.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “We understand the devastating impact of coronavirus on our local businesses and that some very challenging months lie ahead for them while the country emerges from lockdown.

“We and the Chamber have spent the past few months having in-depth conversations with hundreds of our businesses to develop a detailed understanding of what the council could do to help.

“What they told us is that cashflow and reduced sales were the biggest issues, along with adapting to physical distancing and new regulations – and the package of measures we are now putting forward were designed around that.

“Although there is a very challenging financial outlook for the council too, we have prioritised this investment because we are determined to do all we can to help keep as many local businesses as possible trading and to help keep people in jobs.

“And while we hope this package of support will – if approved – make a difference, we are at the same time calling on all residents to do what they can to help support local businesses. Money spent in the local area will support your local community, so please Spend Local if you can.”

Renfrewshire Council has already distributed more than £26m of financial support to local business through various Scottish Government funds designed to mitigate the effect of coronavirus.

More information on the range of business support on offer from the council can be found at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-business and www.investinrenfrewshire.com, while more info on Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce can be found at www.renfrewshirechamber.com

MFG Intu Braehead reopens 2020

SHOPPERS got some retail therapy at intu Braehead yesterday after months of lockdown.

Visitors headed to the mall an hour before the official opening time of 10am as non-essential stores reopened for the first time since March 24 following lockdown restrictions being eased.

MFG Intu Braehead reopens 2020

People coming to the mall followed the new measures and procedures introduced by intu Braehead to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The plan drawn up to keep everyone who visits or works there safe included social distancing and hygiene procedures and more support to help stores safely reopen.

It included a raft of other measures with floor stickers indicating a one-way system for visitors making their way through the centre and staff training to ensure visitors stay socially distanced.

Visitors were also required to wear face coverings in line with Scottish government instructions.

Peter Beagley, regional centre director for intu Braehead said: “We were pleased to see that everyone supported the measures we had put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

One of the first through the doors at intu Braehead were Anna Gorska, 35; her seven-year-old daughter Maja and friend Marzena Marcinczyk, 33, from Govan, in Glasgow.

Anna said: “We’ve really missed coming shopping at intu Braehead. We prefer to come to the shopping centre so we can see exactly what we are buying.

“We’re all going back to Poland later this month for a visit and we came early today in case there were any queues as we’re buying clothes for our holiday.”

People said they felt comfortable being in the centre with the health and safety measures put in place at the mall.

Audrey Stewart, from Bishopton said: “I definitely feel quite safe being in the centre with all the different procedures that’s been introduced and everything is well sign-posted.

“You just have to be a bit more observant when you’re walking around and everyone seems to be following what they’re being asked to do.”

Alan Reid, from Irvine, Ayrshire said: “With all the measures put in place I feel quite comfortable being here. The layout looks pretty good to me.”

Peter Beagley added: “It’s a great feeling being able to welcome people back to the centre and there has obviously been a big jump in footfall with most of our non-essential stores re-opening.

“We had remained partially open during lockdown for essential stores to stay open, but today now feels like we’re getting back to some kind of normality.

“We’ve made sure the centre is re-opening in line with the government’s guidelines and we’re doing everything we can to make sure intu Braehead is a safe place to visit and to work.

“It will be a different experience than usual for everyone who visits us, but it’s pleasing to see everyone following the guidelines we’ve put in place. Both our visitors and our staff are working together to keep each other safe and I would thank everyone for doing that.”

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A Paisley barber has backed a campaign designed to help people look after their mental health as he prepares to welcome back clients from next week.

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Alexander Mills, owner of Handsome Jacks, acknowledged many will feel anxious about returning to the barber shop after months away, as he encouraged people to reach out if they need support.

The barber has shared details of what the experience will feel like to help clients prepare, in the hope they’ll use the time in the chair to clear their heads, as he gets to work on styling them.

With research showing at least seven in ten people in Scotland are feeling anxious or concerned about other people not following guidelines, as restrictions ease1, the Clear Your Head campaign gives people practical tips on how to look after their mental health.

This includes recognising how you’re feeling, talking to others, regular physical activity, good sleep, diet and sensible alcohol and caffeine consumption, limiting the time you allow yourself to worry, as well as taking slow deep breaths if you’re feeling anxious.

Alexander Mills, barber and owner of Handsome Jacks, said:

“Whilst there’s understandable excitement about us opening, in reality the next steps out of lockdown might make some feel anxious.

“The experience at the barbers might feel different, but we’ve let our clients know what to expect and the steps we’re taking to make things safe to help reassure them.  We might not be able to chat as much, but I hope our clients know we’re here for them, and focused on making their experience as stress free as possible.

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“A barbershop is somewhere people can escape, and get a 30 minute break from the stresses of daily life.  Our hope is people will leave feeling a little bit lighter, with a nice haircut.

“It’s not easy at the moment, and everyone is feeling it. Take up the advice on offer if you’re worried, because it’s important to look after yourself and there are practical things you can do that will really help.”

The Scottish Government’s Principal Medical Officer explained feelings of anxiety and concern are normal and shared by everyone to differing degrees.

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr John Mitchell said:

“We’ve adjusted our lives and now, as restrictions continue to ease, feelings of anxiety, worry or fear are understandable and natural.   Your family, friends and everyone you know are likely to be feeling the same way.

“It’s important that we face our fears and do not avoid them.  Mentally preparing yourself to do things that you are worried about can help, rehearsing in your mind the steps you can take to reduce infection risk. This could include paying contactlessly, good hand hygiene, and also using face coverings in enclosed spaces.

“We’ve never had to deal with a situation like this before, so be kind to yourself and to others, and reach out if you need to talk to someone.  Support is there.”

The Clear Your Head website – clearyourhead.scot – provides a range of tips to help people look after their mental health, signposting helplines for those who need to talk to someone, including NHS24, Breathing Space, SAMH and the Samaritans.

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Families and local residents in Renfrewshire are being urged to visit the Paisley.is website and steal back summer with great days out and activities available right on your doorstep.

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The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in changes to the way we live our daily lives in recent months – but as restrictions begin to ease, Renfrewshire’s destination brand Paisley.is aims to help locals get the most out of their summer holidays.

The Paisley.is website is a one-stop shop to see the best things to do across Renfrewshire, including spectacular outdoor spaces and undiscovered gems that can be enjoyed safely, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

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Visitors to the website will also be able to find a bucket list of fascinating blogs and local information, maps, activities and colourful ideas that children, families and local people can tick off over the summer months.

All the activities aim to help people keep fit and feel good while staying safe, learn new things about our area and provide things to do on a rainy day when you may not be able to enjoy the great outdoors.

Find out how you can steal back summer by visiting www.paisley.is/discover/steal-back-summer-with-paisley-is/.

Louisa Mahon, Head of Marketing, Communications and Events at Renfrewshire Council, said: “The last few months have been very difficult for everyone as we all deal with the impact of Covid19 on our daily lives. As measures begin to ease and we continue to follow the Scottish Government’s Route Map out of the crisis, it is important that we continue to do all we can to support our local residents, businesses and attractions over the summer months.

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“The summer holidays offer a glimmer of normality – and as we start to go out more often and see more of our friends and family, the Paisley.is website will help children and families to make the most of their summer safely by signposting to safe activities and places available in Renfrewshire.

“The website highlights everything that makes Renfrewshire a fantastic place to live and explore, showcasing all of our spectacular open spaces and hidden gems.

“We urge everyone to stay safe and stay local and find out how to have the best possible summer at www.Paisley.is.”

The Paisley.is destination brand and website was launched in March 2018, to showcase everything that makes Paisley and Renfrewshire a great place to live, invest and visit.

For more information, visit www.Paisley.is

grease

DRIVE-IN movies are coming to the boardwalk at intu Braehead to raise money for charity.

And yesterday, the Gordon family moved like greased lightin’ when they bumped into lookalikes for Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson from the Grease movie – one of a host of films being shown during the five-day Lockdown Drive-in event from Wednesday, July 29 until Sunday, Sunday 2 August.

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Dad, David, mum, Gillian and kids, Ava, seven and five-year-old Max, from Foxbar, in Paisley also got to ride in a 1950s Pink Cadillac after they had taken a stroll past the shopping and leisure destination.

The Arena at intu Braehead has teamed up with the Catherine McEwan Foundation charity to help raise much-needed funds to help people living with Crohn’s and Colitis get better care, treatment and quality of life.

Tickets costing £35 per car plus booking fee, and are now on sale from www.lockdowndrivein.com but NHS workers will get a free night out at the movies, as the first showing of Grease is exclusively for NHS workers.

To apply for free tickets, hospital and medical staff should apply to the booking website and give their NHS number. The free tickets will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

There will be two films shown on a giant screen every night and four movies at the weekend, with the audio broadcast via a frequency that car radios can be tuned to.

As well as tickets going on public sale for the Grease Singalong movie – which has lyrics to all the songs running along the bottom of the screen so everyone can join in – other films being shown are Jurassic Park, Mama Mia, Goonies, Finding Nemo, Lion King, The Lost Boys, Back to the Future and Dirty Dancing.

There will be 160 cars at each show and refreshments will be provided by the UK’s top street food operator, The Big Feed who will be on site.

Mum Gillian said: “This is a fantastic idea to have a drive-in movie on the boardwalk, as it gives families somewhere to go for a night out during lockdown.

“When we found out that the Grease movie was being screened we decided that this was definitely the one that we want!”

Derek McEwan, who launched the Catherine McEwan Foundation after his mother, Catherine passed away after years of suffering from Crohn’s Disease said: “Drive In movies are a major part of our annual fundraising and in these very testing times they have never been more important.

“To bring our concept to the iconic Braehead Boardwalk is huge for us and will add to the amazing experience for all our cinema goers.

“It is especially pleasing to have a free night as a thank you to all our NHS heroes where 360 families can come down and enjoy a movie on us”

Scott Martin, intu Braehead Leisure general manager added: “We’ve got the ideal location for a drive-in movie with plenty space to keep within social distancing guidelines and great sightlines.

“It’s a great opportunity for people from the same household to get some normality back for a while with a night out at the movies.”

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Paisley First is launching a fun, family “Safari” to help give families a safe town centre story-trail this summer, whilst supporting the NHS.

From today, families from across Renfrewshire and beyond can search the streets for 10 cute and colourful MonsterHeroes.

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Using only smartphones, the Safari allows you to learn each of the MonsterHero’s name, story, and superpowers.

Once all 10 MonsterHeroes are found, a free e-book that tells the story of their first team-up will be unlocked.

The Safari works by utilising contactless NFC technology and QR codes, without the need for players to download or sign up to anything.

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To play, simply tap or scan the Let’s Go posters or MonsterHero Safari window decals dotted around the town centre, and make a donation of £2, or more if you wish, to the charity NHS Together.

As we all adjust to the new normal, it’s hoped this outdoor trail will bring some family fun to Paisley town centre, where visitors can enjoy fresh air and wide-open spaces, and hopefully bring a smile to visiting children.

Colette Cardosi, Chair of Paisley First, said: “Keeping everyone safe is the top priority of Paisley First and our town centre businesses so we made the decision some months ago to postpone our planned LEGO® Animal Paradise summer trail until 2021.

“MonsterHero Safari is an outdoor only trail and a great way to help people get some fresh air whilst having fun and raising money for such a worthwhile cause too.

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“As more and more of our local businesses are reopening, families can be assured that we are all working together to implement COVID-19 safety measures to Keep Paisley Safe.

“We can’t always promise sunshine, but we will do our best to offer a safe day out this summer here in Paisley.”

More than 100 areas across the UK are taking part in this summer’s MonsterHero Safari project with the aim of raising more than £100k for NHS Charities Together.

Paisley town centre’s trail has been sponsored by Love Local, Love Paisley

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To learn more about the story-trail please go to www.paisleyfirst.com