Best Start Foods clients can get free fruit and vegetables in Iceland and Tesco.


Customers who show their Best Start Foods card in Iceland stores can get a £1 bag of frozen vegetables when they make a minimum payment of £4.25.

In Tesco, Best Start Foods customers who present their card will receive £1 off their total shop when buying fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables.

At a time where a third of low-income families in the UK are struggling to afford fruit and vegetables, supermarkets are doing their bit to help communities they serve.

The prepaid Best Start Foods card replaced the UK Government’s healthy start vouchers in Scotland in August 2019 and can be used to buy First infant formula, fresh milk, fruit and vegetables, pulses and eggs.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to doing all it can to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Scotland and give them the best start in life. No child in Scotland should go without – our priority is ensuring low-income families can access healthy food for their young children.

“It is encouraging to see supermarkets running these kinds of initiatives. Feeding a growing family can be expensive – any extra help towards the cost of healthy food can make a real difference.

“I’m pleased that Iceland and Tesco have recognised how the Best Start Foods card can be a link in to helping some of the most vulnerable families in Scotland and would encourage Best Start Foods clients to take up these offers in store.

“I’d also ask anyone who thinks they might be eligible for Best Start Foods to find out more and apply. We want everyone to get all the money they are entitled to. The form is quick and easy to fill in so 10 minutes of your time could give you an extra £221 a year towards your food shop.”

Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland said:

“We are proud to support The Best Start Foods initiative and the families it supports by bolstering the value of payments made by using the cards in our stores.

“We understand the pressing need to help families facing food insecurity from our interactions with millions of customers each week and we are keen to implement initiatives and find new ways to support wherever possible.”

Jason Tarry, Tesco UK & ROI CEO, said

 “Right now, many families are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic and we want to help by providing nutritious food to those who need it.

“In addition to helping Best Start Foods customers with an extra £1 off fruit and vegetables each week, we’re providing an extra £4m of food to FareShare in the run up to Christmas, on top of our regular monthly food donations, to support food banks and community groups with vital supplies at a time when so many people are relying on them.”



  • The Best Start Foods provides low income families on certain benefits with £17.00 on a payment card every four weeks during pregnancy up until a child turns three. The payment doubles (to £34.00) in the first year of a child’s life.
  • To qualify for Tesco’s offer, a Best Start Foods card must be presented and used for a transaction where £1.00 or more is spent on fresh and/or frozen fruit and/or vegetables. This offer runs from 16th November and will be reviewed in February 2021.
  • In Iceland stores, Best Start Foods customers will receive a free £1 bag of frozen vegetables (900 g – 1 kg range) on a minimum spend of £4.25 in one transaction by presenting their Best Start Foods card at the checkout. This offer is available now and runs until 31st December 2020.
  • Promotional materials and store colleagues will signpost customers to these offers in store.
  • The full Resolution Foundation ‘Caught in a Covid Trap’ report which shows figures of families struggling to buy vegetables can be accessed at
  • People on certain benefits and tax credits can apply for Best Start Foods when they’re pregnant, or at any time up until their child turns three years old.
  • People can apply for Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and the Scottish Child Payment in one simple online form.
  • People can find out more and apply at or by calling 0800 182 2222.

Detailed designs for two new temporary cycling routes from Howwood to Paisley and Bridge of Weir to Houston have been published by Renfrewshire Council.

They are the first of a series being introduced on key commuter routes to encourage people to cycle for essential journeys to and from work and school, for exercise and to visit local shops during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Each route is funded through the Scottish Government Spaces for People programme and supported by Sustrans Scotland.

A summer survey shaped design of the 35-minute, 10km cycle between Howwood and Paisley, which passes St Anthony’s Primary School, Johnstone Train station and through Elderslie, before connecting with National Cycle Route 7 into Paisley town centre.

And the Bridge of Weir to Houston route has been brought forward following a request from Houston Community Council to provide a safe cycling option between the two villages.

The 10-minute cycle along Houston Road includes a combination of existing pavement converted into a shared use route for pedestrians and cyclists and on-road cycling, finishing in Houston outside Gryffe High School.

Letters have been issued to residents, schools, businesses and communities on each route detailing the plans and asking for any feedback to shape the final plans, with the routes to be installed in early 2021.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “Cycling brings so many benefits for our wellbeing and for our environment and these two new routes will encourage more people to cycle and wheel for essential journeys during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Both routes have been carefully considered, with parking and access maintained for local shops, and over four weeks we are engaging with local residents, businesses, schools and communities, sharing the developed designs and listening to feedback to improve and adjust each route to ensure they are welcomed and well-used.”

Full details of each route are available now on the Council’s Spaces for People cycle routes webpage and as the Bridge of Weir to Houston route has been added to the programme, an online survey is open until Sunday 20 December for more detailed feedback.

There are also webinars on each route being hosted by the design consultants, with the Bridge of Weir to Houston webinar at 7pm on Thursday 3 December and the Howwood to Paisley webinar scheduled for 7pm on Thursday 10 December. Anyone wishing to participate in either webinar can email and they will be provided with the joining instructions.

Councillor McEwan added: “We are working hard to hear from anyone with an interest in these routes and are contacting local businesses directly to ensure we’ve considered their needs.

“These are the first routes we are bringing forward and next year we hope to share the developed designs for others. While they are temporary measures, if they prove popular then we can look at more detailed discussion and consultation to develop them into permanent cycling routes as it’s so important we enhance the active travel opportunities across Renfrewshire.”

The Spaces for People Fund is managed by Sustrans who give tailored support to successful projects to assist with the planning and delivery of the new temporary infrastructure.

Tim Aeberli, Infrastructure Coordinator, said: “Sustrans is delighted to see the delivery of the first two Spaces for People-funded pop-up cycle routes in Renfrewshire gathering pace. Bridge of Weir, Houston, Howwood, Johnstone,  Elderslie and Paisley will benefit from safe, segregated links which will make it easier to walk, cycle or wheel while maintaining physical distancing.

“We look forward to hearing feedback on the proposed routes, and to find out how the new routes will support you for safe and active journeys to schools, workplaces and essential shops in your area.”

As part of the feedback process, residents, schools, businesses and communities are being asked for their opinions – as are key active travel organisations across the country.

Clare Skelton-Morris, Communications & Monitoring Manager at Cycling Scotland said: “During lockdown, we heard from so many people how much of a difference cycling was making to their health, enjoying cleaner air, quieter roads and reduced feelings of stress. As we continue to battle against Covid-19, getting outside and active is more important than ever to look after our physical and mental health.

“We’re encouraged to hear these safe cycling routes are being introduced in Renfrewshire and hope, longer-term, that these routes may be developed into permanent, protected and inclusive infrastructure, which is the highest priority to enable more people to cycle.”

For more information on the proposals, visit


Programme of digital content and services will be stepped up as Scottish Government confirms Covid-19 Tier 4 measures for region


Venues operated by Renfrewshire Leisure will temporarily close after the Scottish Government confirmed new Covid-19 restrictions for the region.

 Tier 4 protection measures mean that all leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and the heritage centre run by the charity must close to the public from 6pm on Friday. The First Minister has said that the new rules covering Renfrewshire will be in place until December 11.

 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 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.

 Direct debit membership payments will be adjusted in light of the latest restrictions. Members will be contacted with details in the coming days.

 Renfrewshire Leisure Chief Executive Victoria Hollows said: “We appreciate how disappointed people will be that our in-venue services have to be suspended to comply with the Scottish Government’s Tier 4 regulations to safeguard our communities.

 “We remain here for you, however, and our team will be pulling out all of the stops to create and deliver more brilliant content for our members and the wider community online and via social media.

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

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


Free music production and recording sessions, fully funded youth theatre places and gymnastics equipment for young people with physical, emotional or sensory impairments are just a few of the projects young people are set to benefit from as the winning projects were unveiled for Renfrewshire’s Celebrating Renfrewshire Fund 2020.

One of the only funds of its kind still operating in Scotland during the Coronavirus pandemic, it saw an incredible 86 projects imagined, designed and submitted by young people or community groups who work with 12-25-year olds.

More than 1,700 young people then cast 5,163 votes for their favourite projects as they took the lead role in the youth participatory budgeting fund at every stage in the process.

A fantastic £124,437 was awarded to 68 projects and these ideas will now be brought to life as opportunities and support for young people in Renfrewshire continue to grow.

Loud N Proud secured £6,000 to build on their 2019 project which saw young people given an introduction to song writing, and this year’s funding will now enable young musicians to record their tracks in a professional studio.

Tommy McGrory, Loud n Proud Manager, said: “We are very excited as this grant will mean that local young musicians will be able to get their songs recorded and produced to a professional level at the new Loud n Proud studios in Paisley.

“For young aspiring musicians getting their songs recorded is difficult due to the costs involved, so this will be a big stepping stone for them and they will get to work with a music producer who has 15 years’ experience working with young bands.

“Young musicians will learn how to mix and record with the support and training of a professional music producer and will take a piece of music from an idea to a finished product. This is a great opportunity to get free advice and use high-quality professional equipment to gain the key skills in music recording and production.”

Pace Youth Theatre were also successful with their application and received £4,000 as they look to provide free bursary places for local young people aged 3-21 whose financial circumstances, due to the impact of COVID-19 or otherwise, mean that they are unable to participate.

This will ensure all young people are able to see the benefits of youth theatre participation, which include improved confidence, mental wellbeing, communication skills, creative thinking and enhanced employment prospects.

Jenni Mason, Artistic Director of PACE, said: “This is a real boost in enabling us to widen access to our work. The Celebrating Renfrewshire funds will go directly to assisting young people, allowing us to expand our Bursary Scheme and support more young people than has previously been possible.

“PACE focuses on developing and nurturing young creative talent, and creating opportunities for them to benefit educationally, socially and culturally from a varied programme of high-quality performing arts experiences. It’s really important to us that financial circumstances shouldn’t be a barrier to getting involved with these opportunities, and the Bursary Scheme is one of the ways in which we aim to achieve this.”

Another success story was Twist & Hit Cheerleaders, as they secured £1,685.82 to provide CHEER classes to disability groups in Renfrewshire.

Founder, Director & Head Coach Sarah McNeill, said: “The funds will be used to purchase new equipment that will support under 5s and those with physical, emotional and sensory impairments.

“We are the first cheerleading programme in Scotland to be offering CHEER classes to disability groups and this equipment will help us to facilitate the classes.

“This will change their lives as it gives them access to equipment and coaching that is not available anywhere else in Scotland.”

The announcement event was held online this year due to the current pandemic and more than 50 people attended as Renfrewshire Youth Voice (RYV) members unveiled the winners for each Local Partnership area.

Adrian McKechnie, Chair of Renfrewshire Youth Voice, said: “With the way 2020 has unfolded the Celebrating Renfrewshire Fund has been a much-needed source of hope and optimism for a number of young people.

“When we look back on this year, many of the Celebrating Renfrewshire applicants, such as community groups, charities and other third sector organisations, should do so with a great sense of pride knowing that when their communities needed them the most they stepped up to the mark.

“Over the past two years, the Celebrating Renfrewshire Fund has been a significant step forward in terms of empowering young people to make decisions that have and will continue to influence the community around them.

“I sincerely hope the successes of applicants from last year coupled with those of this year will serve as a legacy to inspire other young people to effect change in their community.”

The fund was facilitated by Renfrewshire Council’s Community Planning and Youth Services teams as they engaged with and supported young people to apply, as well as assisting RYV to run the announcement event online.

Councillor Michelle Campbell, Renfrewshire Council’s Young Persons Champion, opened the event and said: “What a fantastic event as young people from across Renfrewshire got the chance to receive funding which will make a real difference to the way they live their lives in Renfrewshire.

“I’m continually amazed by the new and exciting ideas that our young people bring forward and the ability they have to turn them into reality, so I look forward to seeing all the winning projects come to fruition.

“It’s important that those who weren’t successful this time though aren’t disheartened, and I would encourage them to get in touch with our teams at the council who will support them to find alternative ways to bring their ideas to life.”

All unsuccessful projects can contact Engage Renfrewshire via for support to apply for other funding opportunities.

The fund was supported by Young Scot throughout, including the voting process taking place through their online system, and they were quick to praise the efforts of Renfrewshire Council to support young people.

Gavin Crosby, Young Scot Local Partnership Development Manager, said: “Young Scot was thrilled to work in partnership with Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Youth Voice on the Celebrating Renfrewshire Fund.

“Together, we successfully used our Young Scot online participatory budgeting system and the pages to support local young people to have their voices heard.

“Renfrewshire’s approach, particularly during restrictions, is inspiring – and Young Scot looks forward to supporting exciting projects such as this in the future.”

For more information, including a full list of the winning projects, visit

toy 4

THE Braehead shopping mall is backing an appeal for donations of Christmas gifts to disadvantaged children and teenagers.

A giant collecting box has been installed at the central atrium in the lower mall for donations of unwrapped gifts to be dropped off.

toy 4

All gifts will then be passed on to the Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank appeal and volunteers there will distribute the presents to children and teenagers up to the age of 18.

This is the third year the shopping centre has supported the appeal, which was started by Renfrew mum, Lauren Roy-Sutherland.

Last year, the Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank provided 1500 gifts to young people, but this year Lauren reckons the referrals they will get from various charities, social workers, community groups and the local Food Bank could reach as high as 4000.

Lauren said: “We are finding more families than ever before need a donation from us this year.

”Covid has definitely taken a toll on family finances with redundancies that are taking place and although people are still in work, they are being furloughed and receiving 80 per cent of their wages.

“But as always, people have been very generous with their donations and we’d like to thank Braehead for her support in allowing us to have a collection box in the mall.”

Braehead’s community development manager, Lydia Brown said: “With all that has been going on this year it’s more important than ever to make sure children and young people can celebrate and enjoy Christmas.

“Our visitors to Braehead have always been extremely generous when it comes to donating gifts for young people of all ages and I’m sure it will be the same again this year.

“And we’d like to thank them for everything they have donated in the past and what will be donated this year.”

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We are still working through this difficult time.
All of our technicians are:
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Celebrating Renfrewshire - generic - Facebook

Excitement is building as young people and community groups wait to discover whether their projects to enhance the lives of 12-25-year olds in Renfrewshire have been successful.

An incredible 86 projects have been designed and submitted to the Celebrating Renfrewshire Fund and for the last month, thousands of young people have been casting their votes for their favourites.

Celebrating Renfrewshire - generic - Facebook

A special online announcement event hosted by Renfrewshire Youth Voice at 6pm on Friday 13 November will unveil the winners who will take away a share of £150,000.

Applicants have been invited to attend the one-off event which is taking place online due to the current Coronavirus pandemic and will take a look back at the projects awarded funding in 2019, before this year’s winners are unveiled.

The event is open to the public and anyone wishing to attend must register online in advance.

Adrian McKechnie, Chair of Renfrewshire Youth Voice, said: “Young people in Renfrewshire for the past 4 weeks have been using their ballots to decide what projects they would like to see in their communities.

“Celebrating Renfrewshire is not just another funding pot, but rather it gives young people across Renfrewshire a real say in how public money is spent and provides an opportunity for young folk to directly give their backing to projects they see value in.

“I wish all the applicants good luck and look forward to hosting the event, albeit virtually, this Friday.”

Councillor Michelle Campbell, Renfrewshire Council’s Young Persons Champion, will open the event and is looking forward to finding out which projects have been successful.

She said: “This fund is a fantastic opportunity for young people to shape their own communities and create activities that they want to take part in, not what others believe they want.

“The projects which have been submitted are creative, well-thought-out and will make a real difference to life in Renfrewshire for young people – and I can’t wait to discover which ones will be taken forward.

“I’m looking forward to Friday’s event so join me and see some of the most inspiring young people in Renfrewshire discover if they’ve been successful in their applications.”

For more information, and to sign up for the event, visit

Residents across Renfrewshire joined in online with Remembrance Day commemorations this year, as Renfrewshire’s events took place digitally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of the traditional parades and services, Renfrewshire Council broadcast a specially commissioned video across social media on Sunday morning. The video featured representatives from communities across Renfrewshire and focused on the importance of Remembrance, ending with the national two-minute silence at 11am.

In addition to the video, a podcast highlighting the work of veteran’s care charity Erskine has also been released.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron opened the online commemorations and visited the Cenotaph in Paisley on Sunday to lay a wreath.

Provost Cameron said: “We cannot express enough gratitude to our Armed Forces.

“Our thanks and prayers are with all our service personnel, past and present, for the outstanding work they do to keep us safe and I’m delighted we were able to honour them once again this year.

“It was great to see so many people watch our online commemoration. I hope you were all able to take the time to reflect in your own way over the course of Remembrance Sunday.

“I would also like to express my thanks to all who took part in the video. I’m glad we were able to highlight the individual stories of your communities during this challenging time.”

The video and podcast are available online at

clare hemsworth

AS a toddler Clare Hemsworth loved books so much she would correct her mum if she missed a word while reading her daughter a story.

And the youngster’s favourite trips with her dad would be to the local library.

clare hemsworth

Clare has gone on to forge a career working in libraries and has been so successful she has just won a top national award.

The 38-year-old schools library support co-ordinator with Renfrewshire Leisure has won the 2020 Library and Information Professional of the Year Award.

The award is made by CILIPS – Scotland’s Library and Information Professionals – and is sponsored audio digital publishers, Bolinda.

Clare has worked with Renfrewshire Libraries for the past seven years and as well as being the support co-ordinator for all school libraries, she is the school librarian at Castlehead High.

“I’m really honoured to have won this award,” she said.

“I was amazed to even be shortlisted and absolutely astounded that I won given the amazing work being done by the other librarians shortlisted across Scotland.

“I’m so pleased that the judging panel were able to see how much I love school libraries and a little bit of what we’ve been able to achieve in Renfrewshire.”

Clare has worked with Renfrewshire Libraries for seven years and was nominated for the award by the organisation’s Children and Families Development Co-ordinator, Andrew Givan.

Clare, who wins a trophy and £500 towards paying for professional development courses, continued: “I love libraries and I’ll do anything I can to make them more vibrant and accessible places to young people.

“I love it when a pupil comes into one of our school libraries and you can see how excited they are about asking for a new book they’ve heard about and want to read.”

Clare added: “I’ve enjoyed reading books since I was a young girl and my mum, Mary tells me that when she was reading me a story from a book, I would correct her if she skipped a word.

“And when I was growing up I loved going to the library with my late dad, Paul. That was our thing – going to the library together. I’ve loved books and libraries for as long as I can remember.”

Announcing that Clare had won the award, CILIPS praised her excellent work within the school library sector and for her commitment to the profession.

In particular, the judging committee commended Clare for the following:

  • The leading role she has taken in developing an innovative and forward-looking school library service in Renfrewshire including using new and creative technologies to engage young people
  • Her engagement with the school library sector such as bidding for School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF) funding to deliver new projects, knowledge sharing through delivering presentations at conferences, and speaking to Information and Library Studies students about school librarianship
  • Her support for young people for example her work with the school libraries attainment team to ensure pupils are engaging with reading and libraries and her collaborative work with the University of West of Scotland Library to support the transition of senior pupils into higher education
  • The active role she takes in the wider profession for example through undertaking Chartership and Revalidation and also being a CILIPS mentor to support others through the Professional Registration process

Joyce Higgins, Digital Library and Development Manager said: “We all so pleased for Clare winning such a prestigious award.

“There’s no doubting her commitment and enthusiasm to libraries and the schools libraries in particular.

“Clare, along with the other staff in our libraries, provide an excellent service to the public.”

Region’s Food Train branch comes out tops as BOXtober drive exceeds charity’s expectations

Generous residents of Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire have led the country with support for a charity’s latest fundraising campaign.

People and businesses from across the regions have supported Food Train’s BOXtober initiative, putting their seal on just over 140 crates – more than any other single branch in Scotland.

Food Train helps hundreds of older people across Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire lead better lives in their own home by ensuring they do not go without vital shopping supplies.

Throughout October the charity, which operates locally from Seedhill, Paisley, encouraged people to pledge just £10 to sponsor one of the boxes in which its volunteers carry groceries to those who would otherwise struggle with their shopping and potentially go without the essentials – and even socially-distanced personal contact – needed for a healthy life.

In Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, 141 boxes have been sponsored, ensuring a £1,141 boost for the organisation’s work.

Nationally, BOXtober generated twice as much money as it did in 2020, collecting £6,160.

Emma Black, Food Train’s National Fundraising and Marketing Manager, said: “Thank you to everyone in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire who has supported BOXtober.

“Asking someone to sponsor a box may not seem too conventional, but the impact that it can have is remarkable. These boxes carry shopping supplies which mean the older people who are receiving them can eat well and live well in their own homes.

“This year more than ever, our work has never been needed more in the regions. It’s clear from the great reaction we’ve had that people recognise that and appreciate all that our tremendous volunteers and staff do.”

Each sponsored box is labelled to acknowledge the support for a year.

Across Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, Food Train is currently delivering shopping supplies to 270 customers through it’s acclaimed home shopping service. That is compared to 160  at this time last year.

Nationally, demand at the peak of the pandemic’s lockdown was 70% higher than 2019 as older people shielded in their homes.

Anyone interested in volunteering to support the work of Food Train in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire should call 0141 887 2557 to find out more.