Gavin Newlands MP

Gavin Newlands MP was at Westminster on Wednesday to take a stand for women’s human rights defenders whose lives are at risk

Gavin Newlands MP

Newlands MP attended Amnesty International’s Annual Human Rights Day Reception on Wednesday (12 December) to show his support for women around the world who are being attacked, threatened and even killed for defending their rights.


The event – which Amnesty hosts annually to mark World Human Rights Day (10 December) – paid tribute to women human rights defenders around the world who dedicate their lives to fight for equality and justice, often at great personal risk. Human rights activists and MPs from across the UK attended and wrote messages of support to end the persecution of women rights defenders from countries including Iran, Indian and Venezuela, as part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign.


This year, celebrations of World Human Rights Day also coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Newlands commented following the event:


“It was great to join Amnesty International at their event last week, and it clear that remain the world’s leading champions for human rights.


“Human rights must never be taken for granted, and should instead be celebrated alongside the freedoms we have. We should use these to challenge injustice and abuse wherever it is found.


“Female human rights champions are particularly at risk globally. Women who take up activism are brave and the dangers that they face are desperately worrying.


“Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign is evidence of the change that can be achieved when many people stand together for justice. I hope that my letter, along with those sent by others around the world will send a clear message to governments that human rights defenders must be protected.”


Women risking their lives to defend rights

The level of danger facing women activists around the world has reached crisis point. At least 3,500 human rights defenders have been killed since 1998 – an average of 180 deaths a year. This figure is increasing: the latest data shows that in 2017 at least 312 human rights defenders were assassinated, twice as many as in 2015. Women are particularly at threat as they often challenge the accepted gender norms and stereotypes in their society to protest against injustices, which often leads to them being portrayed as ‘criminals’, ‘terrorists’ or as a threat to ‘traditional values’.


Amnesty’s Write for Rights – the world’s biggest letter writing campaign – is this year supporting 12 women or groups of women around the world who are facing abuses for defending human rights. Attendees of Wednesday’s parliamentary event wrote messages of support to these women, including:



  • Atena Daemi, a young activist serving a seven-year jail sentence in Iran for peacefully protesting against capital punishment;


  • Geraldine Chacón, a 24-year-old human rights defender supporting disadvantaged young people in Caracas, Venezuela who recently served a 4-month prison sentence and could be re-arrested at any time;
  • Vitalina Koval, a prominent LGBTI activist in Ukraine who has been attacked and threatened by a far-right group; and
  • Pavitri Manjhi, whose attempts to protect her indigenous Adivasi community in India from being displaced by the construction of power-plants has led to her being threatened by local ‘strongmen’.




Gryffe High, St Fillan’s Primary and Houston Primary

More than a hundred excited young people donned their Santa hats and picked up their litter picker as they made their community a little brighter ahead of the festive period.

Gryffe High, St Fillan’s Primary and Houston Primary

Pupils from Gryffe High, St Fillan’s Primary and Houston Primary took their minds off the upcoming festivities for just a minute as they joined forces to clean up the area around their schools.

There wasn’t any tinsel, baubles or wrapping paper to be found but the pupils made sure to collect every piece of litter possible to give the council’s StreetScene team an early Christmas present.

Colin Johnson, Gryffe High Head Teacher, said: “To see the joint efforts of Gryffe, St Fillan’s and Houston pupils was really something quite special.

“Tall and small took on the joint responsibility of supporting our local community, all with a smile on their face and a determination to make a difference.”

Members of local volunteer groups Houston Litter Crew and Brighter Bridge of Weir joined community police officers to lend a hand to the excited pupils.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, joined in the fun and was delighted with the enthusiasm of the young volunteers.

Councillor McEwan said: “What a sight it was to see Santa hats bobbing up and down as the pupils set out to do their bit for their community.

“One of the main aims of the Team Up to Clean Up campaign is to educate our young people to know that dropping litter isn’t acceptable and taking care of the community is everyone’s responsibility.

“It’s refreshing to see how responsive the young people are to this message and how eager they are to get involved in the clean ups.

“We’ll continue to support them and allow them to lead from the front as we make Renfrewshire a cleaner, more attractive place to live and work.”

The litter picks are part of Renfrewshire’s successful Team Up to Clean Up campaign, which encourages local people to take pride in where they live and is backed by a £2.5million investment in road sweeping, gully clearing and litter picking.

More than 3500 volunteers have taken part since the campaign was launched in October 2017 and there has been a rise of over 400% in community litter picks as local people continue to show their support.

For more information on the campaign, including how you can get involved, visit or join the dedicated Facebook group at

Braehead Customer Services

BRITAIN’S Got Talent star Edward Reid certainly has got Christmas all wrapped up.

The popular entertainer was helping Children’s Hospices Across Scotland – better known as CHAS – launch their Christmas gift-wrapping service, at the intu Braehead shopping centre.

Braehead Customer Services

The mall has given over space for CHAS staff and volunteers to wrap Christmas presents for shoppers in return for a donation to the charity.

The gift-wrap service is available between noon and 8pm every day from now until December 23 at their workstation in the upper mall between A1 Toys and the Footasylum stores.

Lydia Brown, intu Braehead’s community development manager said: “Getting someone to expertly wrap Christmas presents for you can be a real Godsend at this time of year.

“We provide the paper, sticky tape and colourful bows and when the CHAS volunteers are finished, the presents are ready to go under the tree

“This service will save shoppers lots of time and we hope they will use the gift-wrapping service and make a generous donation to the CHAS charity, which is an extremely worthwhile cause.

“Within minutes of the gift-wrapping desk opening we had lots of people asking the volunteers to wrap presents for them.”

Jonathan Clegg, Community Fundraiser at CHAS said: “As the festive season approaches excitement builds amongst us all as we look forward to spending time with friends, visiting family members and making special memories.

“However this can be a very isolating time for many of the families who use CHAS.  We exists to support families across Scotland who have a child with a life shortening condition and we will not allow Christmas to be just another day for our CHAS families.

“Thanks to the dedicated support of intu Braehead and our festive gift wrap volunteers we can do just that.

“What better way to get into the festive spirit than to have your presents beautifully wrapped whilst helping to create magical memories for families all across Scotland?”

the beatles

Paul McCartney returns to Glasgow for his first Scottish show in almost a decade today (Friday) and some talented local young people will be joining him on stage.

the beatles

The group from Paisley Grammar School have been selected to perform on stage at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow during the finale of Paul McCartney’s ‘Freshen Up’ show.

The twenty-four pupils from the school will join the Beatles legend to sing the chorus part of the Christmas classic ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ in front of a sold-out crowd of over 10,000 people.

Mollie Quinn, a third year pupil at the school said “We’re so excited to be given the opportunity to perform at the SSE Hydro. The whole group have been working really hard rehearsing.”

Second year pupil, Emma Loney added “It’s an amazing opportunity to be part of something special.”

Head of Expressive Arts at Paisley Grammar, Andrew Dickie said the pupils have been rehearsing very hard this week with only a couple of days’ notice to prepare. He added “To perform in the SSE Hydro in front of a sold-out crowd is a once in a lifetime opportunity – and a great way to end the term.”

Paul McCartney’s last concerts in London and Birmingham took place in 2015 and were part of his Out There world tour, which ran from 2013 – 2015.  His last visit to Scotland was in 2010 at Hampden Park.

Education and Children’s Services Convenor, Councillor Jim Paterson said: “This is an incredible opportunity for our young people to be involved in a large-scale production – something that very few people ever get to experience.

“Opportunities like this really showcase the wealth of talent we have in our Renfrewshire schools and I wish all the pupils the very best of luck.”

storage-vault-logo (2)

As Christmas draws closer and we get excited about the prospect of seeing extended family, filling up on food, and eagerly opening piles of presents, it’s important to remember that not everyone in our local community is feeling the same way.

storage-vault-logo (2)

Storage Vault Paisley Branch have been doing their bit to help those struggling in the community by supporting some fantastic Paisley and Glasgow-based charities who are doing a world of good.


Christmas is a time of giving, so why not see what you can do to give these fantastic groups some assistance?


A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand are an inspiring local community group who have banded together to help the homeless and less fortunate across Paisley.


Every Tuesday they congregate at the entrance of Marks and Spencers on Paisley High Street between 8 and 9pm, distributing soup and hot drinks.


They also donate clothes, bedding, shoes, and toiletries to those who need them, storing all of their donated stock in a storage unit that we have donated to them at our Paisley self-storage site.


A Helping Hand are currently in urgent need of various food items and personal hygiene products which they have listed on their Facebook page, as well as items for their special Boxing Day Event.


Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank

Another fantastic charity we put our full support behind is the Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank.


The toy bank works closely with social work, Barnardo’s threads, the STAR project, and the Foodbank in order to provide children aged 0-18 across Renfrewshire with Christmas presents. They too keep their donations in a free storage unit gifted by the Storage Vault Paisley team.


Christmas can be stressful enough for parents without the worry of providing their families with enough food over the holidays, let alone purchasing them toys, books, and games.


Until the 17th of December, Renfrewshire Christmas Toy Bank are holding drop-offs of toys at various locations across the county. Toys and books in good condition are being sought  to donate to donate to children of all ages desperately in need of some Christmas cheer.


ACCORD Hospice

Christmas should be a time of joy where families gather together, but for some, serious illness takes this bonding opportunity away.


Storage Vault support ACCORD Hospice by giving them free storage as well as donating £1 to them for every storage unit we rent.


ACCORD strive to provide palliative end-of-life care to those with terminal illness across Renfrewshire and some areas in East Renfrewshire.


Catering to both physical and emotional needs, they are doing a fantastic job bringing families together, which is much needed at this time of year, giving individuals a dignified end to their life.


Homeless Street Team Glasgow

This group are a not-for-profit community group who venture out onto the streets of Glasgow City Centre twice a week to help the homeless, giving out food and hot drinks, toiletries, and clothing.


They actively seek out individuals who are homeless and ask if they are looking for support. They sit and talk to them, which is often much-needed, especially during the winter snap when it’s easy to feel helpless and alone.


Storage Vault help the team by providing them with storage unit space to keep their wares in.


Give Your Support

Storage Vault are passionate about giving back to the community that has supported them for so long. These Paisley and Glasgow-based charities deserve immense aid for all the good they do, particularly at this time of year.




Paisley Pirates have swooped into the transfer market to sign hit man Daniel Abercrombie, and the forward goes straight into the Pirates’ squad for their important home match against Kirkcaldy Kestrels this Sunday at Braehead Arena (face off 5.00pm). The 20 year old has played for both Solway and North Ayr in previous seasons, and most recently iced for Murrayfield Racers, where his goals helped propel the Edinburgh side towards the top of the Scottish National League.


“We’re delighted to be welcoming Daniel into the Pirates’ family”, said Off Ice Operations Manager Jackie Turley. “It seemed he might be having a time out from the sport for a little while at least, but we managed to talk him round into coming to Braehead and we’re confident his sniper skills will make him a potent threat in front of goal. He’s already played alongside a couple of our guys with other teams so he already knows a few of the players on the bench and while we already carry a goal threat, his potency in front of goal will increase the potential for the squad to add to its goal scoring abilities.”

She added, “We very rarely sign players just to add numbers to the squad. We have to feel that any new additions coming in will improve what we’ve already got, so by signing Daniel it makes a statement, meaning that we rate him highly and, at only 20 years of age, we’ll see how good he is when he turns out in a Pirates’ jersey. In the short term, he’ll wear the number 16 sweater, and we can look forward to seeing him adding to the calibre of our squad.”




Paisley Pirates return to action this weekend with a intriguing fixture against Kirkcaldy Kestrels, the match facing off at Braehead Arena on Sunday at 5.00pm. In the reverse clash in Fife a few weeks ago, the teams drew 5-5 in a thrilling encounter, and Off Ice Operations Manager Jackie Turley expects this weekend’s return to be no less exciting than it was first time around, when Pirates twice came from two goals behind to draw the match.

“We rarely have poor matches against the Kestrels, we seem to bring out the best in each other, which is very good news indeed for supporters of both clubs,” she said. “ We’re hoping for a big-pre Christmas crowd to turn out and cheer us on as we go head to head with Kirkcaldy. We know that they enjoy beating us as much as we like putting one over on them, so whatever the score, the fans are certain to be winners. We only beat them by the narrowest of margins towards the end of last season when we absolutely had to win to keep our league challenge going, and that was only in the last session of play, so there’s every reason to think that this year’s home game against them is going to be just as much a nail-biter. Back in the days when the Pirates played the Fife Flyers at the Lagoon, the game was always one of the ones most eagerly awaited, and the feelings are still the same when we play the Kestrels.”

“Dundee Comets lost for the fist time two weekends ago so the teams at the top end of the league are now very much bunched up, with ourselves and the Kestrels in that group, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that every match carries a lot of significance. It’s as tight at the top end of the league as I can remember for a long time. which means that every single point gained is important.”

“We’ve got a number of local clubs and organisations taking advantage of our cut price deal on offer throughout the season, and a couple of others coming along next weekend, so we’re sure those groups will enjoy getting possibly their first experience of a night watching the Paisley Pirates in action, and make plenty of noise in support of Renfrewshire’s only senior ice hockey team.”

Ferguslie Learning Centre - Info Day - Social Media

Our Ferguslie Learning Centre provides certificated learning opportunities at beginner’s levels within a friendly, community environment.

Pop along to our open day on Tues 8 Jan from 10am-2pm. Alternatively contact Kathleen on 0141 842 1015.

Ferguslie Learning Centre - Info Day - Social Media


SHOPPERS are being given more time to find that perfect gift this Christmas.

The intu Braehead shopping centre is staying open until midnight from Monday, December 17 until Sunday December 23.


According to the team at intu Braehead, their midnight opening is a big attraction for customers who are living busy lives at work or at home.

David Lyon, intu Braehead’s marketing manager said: “Coming out to the mall for Christmas shopping at night gives people more time to get all the presents they need for the big day.

“It’s ideal for people with very busy lives and they can even catch their favourite TV programmes in the evening before coming out to do their Christmas shopping.


“Our shoppers also love they way they can drive into one of our free car parks and get to the shops within minutes.”

derek mackay MSP

A significant cash injection to health and care services and funding to help prepare Scotland’s economy for Brexit are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s spending plans for the year ahead.

derek mackay MSP

The 2019/20 Scottish Budget, published today, proposes an increase of almost £730 million in health and care services. This includes additional revenues generated by tax decisions that mitigate the shortfall in NHS funding promised by the UK Government.

Unveiling the spending plans in Parliament, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay also announced more than £180 million to raise attainment in schools.

The budget includes more than £5 billion of capital investment to grow and modernise infrastructure – including a new £50 million Town Centre Fund to support the future of our high streets.

Real terms increases in funding for local government, education, health and the police will support the transformation of our public services to meet new challenges, while investment in skills, social security and training will help ensure we deliver opportunity for all.

The Scottish Government will continue to deliver on its commitments to end homelessness and tackle child poverty, while investment in culture is also protected.

Mr Mackay also confirmed that the Scottish Government’s tax policy will ensure 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland will pay less than people earning the same income in the rest of the UK, while continuing to raise revenue to support investment in the economy and public services.

Mr Mackay said:

“This is a budget of stimulus and stability. It delivers for today and invests in tomorrow and does so with fairness, equality and inclusiveness at its heart.

“It provides an increase of almost £730 million for our health and care services, invests more than £180 million to raise attainment in our schools and gives a vital boost to our economy through a £5 billion infrastructure programme.

“As a result of these decisions, we have been able to invest in essential public services, particularly the NHS, while ensuring 55% of income taxpayers in Scotland pay less tax than those earning the same income in the rest of the UK. Taken together with the personal allowance, 99% of taxpayers will pay less income tax next year on the same income.

“This budget delivers the public services, social contract and economic investment people expect while mitigating, where we can, the impacts of the UK Government’s policies of austerity and Brexit that are causing so much harm.”

Assessing the impact of ongoing uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the EU on this year’s budget, Mr Mackay added:

“Our spending plans for 2019-20 include a commitment to mitigate the risks of Brexit as best we can, to enable our economy to thrive in any circumstances, now and in the future.

“It is disappointing that we are facing the prospect of having to revisit these plans in the event of a chaotic no-deal outcome. If leaving the EU can be avoided, those resources currently being directed towards essential preparations can be reinvested into our public services and economy.”

The 2019/20 Scottish Budget includes:

  • More than £180 million in raising attainment in schools, including £120 million for head teachers to spend on closing the attainment gap
  • Continuing to deliver a progressive income tax system
  • A public sector pay deal that continues the journey of restoring pay levels and provides an above inflation pay uplift of 3% for those earning up to £36,500
  • Providing the most generous package of business rates reliefs in the UK, and ensure more than 90 per cent of properties in Scotland will be charged a lower tax rate than other parts of the UK
  • More than £600 million in colleges and maintain investment at more than £1 billion in universities
  • Increasing direct investment in mental health by £27 million, taking overall funding to £1.1 billion, including improving mental health services for young people, and providing support in schools, colleges and universities
  • Increasing investment in Health and Social Care Partnerships to more than £9 billion for delivery of primary and community health services
  • Delivering new and improved social security benefits based on dignity and respect
  • Providing local government with a real terms increase in both revenue and capital funding, and a real terms increase in total overall support, through a £11.1 billion settlement
  • Almost £500 million to expand funded early learning and childcare, supporting the recruitment and training of staff and investment in building, refurbishment and extension of around 750 nurseries and family centres
  • Initial funding of £130 million towards the establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank
  • Protect the police resource budget in real terms
  • More than £20 million for zero waste, supporting the transition towards a more resource-efficient, circular economy, including design and implementation of a deposit return scheme
  • £80 million for Active Travel to help build an Active Nation
  • More than £825 million, as part of our total investment in excess of £3 billion to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of the Parliament
  • Continuing to invest in the £50 million Ending Homelessness Together fund
  • More than £70 million in 2019/20 to drive forward sustainable and inclusive growth in the rural economy
Local Partnerships meeting

Enthusiastic community members are being encouraged to sign up for their nearest Local Partnership ahead of the deadline for applications.

Local Partnerships meeting

Enthusiastic community members are being encouraged to sign up for their nearest Local Partnership and have their say on the issues that matter locally.

The community representatives will be a key part of the new Local Partnerships, sitting alongside local elected councillors and representatives from the public sector and the voluntary sector.

They will help shape the discussion and debate at Local Partnership meetings, bring their expertise and local knowledge to decision making and provide an important link to local people.

Local Partnerships meeting

The closing date for membership applications is Friday 14 December.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “I’d encourage anyone who has a passion for their community to put their name forward to become a member of their Local Partnership.

“We want to achieve a range of views and give local people the opportunity to have their say on the issues that matter to them within their community.

Local Partnerships meeting

“It’s important that the opinions of local people are highlighted so get in touch and take this opportunity to make a difference.”

A series of community events have been taking place across Renfrewshire to introduce the new partnerships and to encourage people to become community representatives, with the first official meetings of the new partnerships set to take place in early 2019.

The seven new Local Partnerships take on the same boundaries as Community Councils and replace the previous five Local Area Committees, with membership being split evenly between local elected members and local community representatives.

The partnerships will work together to identify the priorities for the local community and representatives will have a key role in the allocation of funding to local voluntary and community groups.

For more information on the Local Partnerships and to submit your application to become a member, visit