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Leaders in education, local government and business are urging employers across Renfrewshire to have their say in the West of Scotland Skills Survey before it closes on Friday 23rd March.

Scotland’s largest college kicked off 2018 by launching the West of Scotland Skills Survey. The first of its kind to be conducted by a Scottish college or university, it is a new way that West College Scotland is engaging with employers to help build a modern workforce.

Launched online in January, the West of Scotland Skills Survey has been gathering the views and experiences of employers in the West region – focusing on their workforce and business support needs.

The findings of the sector-leading research will then be used to better inform the work of the College and how they support employers in 2018 and beyond.

The West of Scotland Skills Survey is open to employers of all sizes in Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Dunbartonshire – and closes on Friday 23rd March. Upon completing the survey, participants will be able to enter prize draws for £1,000 worth of free workforce training and development, free use of the College’s conferencing facilities and a 3-course lunch for 10 people.

Audrey Cumberford, the Principal of West College Scotland, said:

“As Scotland’s largest college and a leader in the region we serve, West College Scotland is committed to working with partners and employers to build a modern workforce, sustain a thriving economy and help people achieve their potential.

“The West of Scotland Skills Survey is just one way that we are engaging with employers Renfrewshire and across our region to ensure that the West is able to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities of a competitive global economy.

“I would urge employers across Renfrewshire to participate in our sector-leading research before the survey closes this Friday to help us support them in the future and build a modern workforce.”

Cllr Iain Nicolson, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said:

“We are committed to growing the local economy by creating new job opportunities in Renfrewshire and removing barriers to employment.

“Renfrewshire has the fourth best youth employment rate in Scotland and we are developing a reputation as a place of enterprise, creativity and drive, home to a highly-skilled workforce making a vital contribution to the local and national economy.

“West College Scotland plays a key role in this and we are working closely with the College and with business and education leaders across Renfrewshire to develop a long-term economic strategy. The findings from this innovative skills survey will provide further important information and help inform our collective approach to drive Renfrewshire’s future economic success.”

Bob Grant, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, added:

“Getting the right people, with the right skills, in the right jobs is one of the biggest challenges facing employers no matter what sector or industry they operate in. Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce welcomes West College Scotland’s latest initiative to support employers across the region.

“The West of Scotland Skills Survey gives employers across Renfrewshire the opportunity to have their voice heard, to shape the College curriculum and to help build a modern workforce. I’d urge all local employers – no matter how big or small they are – to participate in this important work.”

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Renfrewshire schools celebrate British Science Week with range of activities including Whodunits

From turning classrooms into crime scenes and studying tsunamis, schools across Renfrewshire marked British Science Week with a string of activities.

Budding forensic investigators at St Mary’s Primary in Paisley turned detective to take part in a special CSI day, ‘Who killed Mrs Friel?’

The classroom was turned into a CSI lab as the children solved the whodunit of which member of staff killed their head teacher in the gym hall.

A guest speaker explained to the children how evidence is gathered in real life, while they were also given the chance to quiz suspects.

Pupils also enjoyed a range of science workshops, with younger students visiting Glasgow’s Science Centre to mark the ten day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths.

St. Anne’s Primary in Erskine held a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) week with a variety of different activities to promote learning and career choice.

The Scottish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals talked to children about their work in the care and protection of animals, as well as the impact humans can have on the environment and how this affects other living things.

Microbiologist from Glasgow University undertook experiments with older pupils to help them understand how microbiology works and how it can improve our world.

Staff from Trinity High School, Network Rail and the University of West of Scotland also dropped by, while visiting academics from Strathclyde University helped children learn about wind turbines.

At Howwood Primary, older children heard from a parent based at Prestwick Airport as an air traffic controller and pupils were able to track a plane that passed over the school to Amsterdam.

Other pupils embarked on Space discovery and worked together to create rockets while senior pupils created working volcanoes and disaster movies, while learning about genetics.

Primary six pupils embarked on a bridge building project with local firm Thermo Fisher Scientific, looking at costs and design and then building the bridge in miniature.

Science was also celebrated at St Anthony’s Primary in Johnstone, where children produced a topic on the human body and one class looked at tsunamis and the impact they have on the environment.

Education and Children’s Services Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson, said: “It’s great to see schools putting a range of activities to mark British Science Week and bringing the subject alive in such a fun way for children.“

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Kelly Ann McCormick Whats My Story

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Renfrewshire’s school leavers heading for great futures

The number of young people entering a positive destination after leaving school in Renfrewshire is the highest it’s ever been.

Around 45 per cent of Renfrewshire’s young people are going to university and other higher education establishments – significantly higher numbers than the national average – as revealed in national data collected by Scottish Government.

The official statistics show a six-year trend that’s increasingly improving for Renfrewshire’s young people, with more than 90 per cent going into higher or further education, employment or training.

Education and Children’s Services Convener for Renfrewshire Council, Councillor Jim Paterson, is delighted that more of Renfrewshire’s young people are taking positive steps towards their future upon leaving school.

He said: “The fact that a high number of Renfrewshire’s young people are entering positive destinations upon leaving school is encouraging. Over the last six years, we’ve seen an increasingly improving trend for our school leavers who are going into higher and further education, work and training.

“It’s also encouraging that a significant percentage of our school leavers remain in long-term positive post-school destinations, but we want to do more to support every child and young person in Renfrewshire reach their full potential regardless of their background.

“Here in Renfrewshire, we are working hard to close the poverty-related attainment gap while also raising attainment for all. We want our children to have the best start in life, meaning they have the right skills and support to be successful in later life.

“Improving children and young people’s life chances takes a holistic approach – from providing support to vulnerable families, supporting children and young people as individuals who learn differently from each other, and improving their overall health and wellbeing.

“We have been working hard to raise attainment for all. Renfrewshire’s pupils are already performing well or better in literacy and numeracy measures in all stages (S4, S5 and S6) than pupils from across Scotland with similar backgrounds and we have a number of initiatives in place that will further improve pupil attainment levels.

“We’ve already taken significant steps to improve the learning and teaching of reading in our primary schools and all our teachers have access to continuous professional development that supports them to achieve their very best.

“By giving children and young people the best start in life, we are supporting them to achieve their goals and have a great future.”

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Wedding Fayre at Johnstone Town Hall

For anyone starting to plan their big day, then Johnstone Town Hall’s first ever Wedding Fayre is the place to be. Join us on Sunday 8 April from 11am to 4pm. Entry is free.

This event will host a wide variety of local wedding suppliers, from photographers to kiltmakers and florists to candy carts. There will also be the opportunity to view a wedding set up in the main hall so that visitors can see just what this award-winning venue has to offer. Visitors will be able to experience the state-of-the-art technical facilities and have a look around the dedicated marriage suite. Free consultations will also be available with our wedding co-ordinators on the day.

Visitors to the Fayre will also receive a complimentary drink, a goody bag and a range of special offers and discounts.

Any businesses wishing to participate in the event should call Johnstone Town Hall on 0300 300 1210.

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Employability project with a difference welcomes new applications

A life changing employability programme is welcoming applications for its latest intake.

Project Search is designed for students with a learning disability or autism, who want to move into full time work.

There are 12 places available and the selected students will initially attend a summer school one day a week in July to prepare for the year ahead.

The programme is then delivered full time with Glasgow Clyde College at Renfrewshire Council over an academic year, from September 2018 to June 2019, with students working towards achieving a recognised qualification in employability.

Students will also gain more than 600 hours of practical work based learning and training through working in three different work placements within Renfrewshire Council.

A string of young people from previous courses have already landed jobs across Renfrewshire in a variety of roles including clerical assistant, catering and project assistant.

Colin McKenzie, the first graduate to get a job, said: “Project Search has given me confidence and skills and it has helped me to find a job. Our whole class had a brilliant year and we all felt that by the time we had completed the course we could move into work and make a contribution to the world.”

Every young person will work with a team that includes their family, college lecturer and job coach to create an employment goal to help them move to the world of work.

The experience and skills they get from their work placements will be vital for them in applying for jobs.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It’s great to see Project Search launch its fourth intake and create training and employment opportunities for young people.

“We look forward to welcoming a new group of trainees to the council and see them hopefully taking their first steps into the job market.”

Renfrewshire’s Project Search is a partnership between, Renfrewshire Council, Glasgow Clyde College and Invest in Renfrewshire.

It originated in Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital and has grown to over 400 sites internationally.

Applicants must be aged 17-26 years old, have a learning disability and/or autism and live within a Renfrewshire Postcode.

They must also want to find full time work on completion of the programme, be capable of  travelling independently and have excellent timekeeping and attendance.

An information evening on 21st March 2018 from 6.00pm-7.30pm at Tweedie Hall Linwood will provide more details about the course and application process.

To apply for the course, please contact michael.moran@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

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Mhairi Black MP Calls For Change In Law To Reunite Refugee Families In The UK

The Private Member’s Bill debate on refugee family reunion could transform lives, bringing families torn apart by war and persecution back together.

Mhairi Black MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South has pledged her support for the Private Member’s Bill on refugee family reunion.

In the House of Commons last week, Mhairi met with members of the Families Together campaign to discuss the urgency of reuniting refugee families in the UK. Refugees who have been separated from their families continue to remain apart from their loved ones because of current restrictive UK laws on refugee family reunion.

The rules mean that some people with family members in the UK – including children who have turned 18 and elderly parents – often find themselves facing an impossible choice: remain in what can often be an insecure and dangerous place, or embark on a treacherous, expensive, unregulated journey, often in the hands of smugglers.

The rules also prevent child refugees in this country from sponsoring even their closest family members to join them, making the UK one of only two EU countries to deny refugee children the chance to grow up with their family.

The Refugee (Families Reunion) Bill debate on Friday 16 March has the power to change this. If the Bill were to pass its second reading, it would bring the UK one step closer to undoing this wrong.

The Bill calls for:

  • Child refugees in the UK having the right to sponsor their close family so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community;

  • An expansion of who qualifies as a family so that young people who have turned 18 and elderly parents can live in safety with their families in the UK;

  • The reintroduction of legal aid so refugees can afford to navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.

Ahead of the debate, Mhairi Black MP, said:

“My SNP colleague Angus MacNeil MP has put lots of work and research into this bill. I have no doubt that this bill will help to improve the life’s of many people.

“Refugees should have the right to be with their family, the people that know them best and make them feel safe. But tragically, every single day refugee families already torn apart by conflict and war are being kept apart by restrictive UK rules. I have met with a number of Syrian Refugees who have been welcomed to Renfrewshire and the majority of them were disconnected from their close family members.”

“This urgently needs to change. I will be attending the Private Member’s Bill vote on 16 March and voting to bring refugee families together again.”

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“Amnesty welcomes Mhairi Black MP’s commitment to safely reuniting refugees with their families in the UK.

“Child refugees are some of the most vulnerable in the UK. On their arrival they face a multitude of new struggles – a new language and culture, as well as the psychological fallout from suffering incredibly traumatic experiences back in their home country.

“It is perverse that families are being kept apart by arbitrary rules. This is not a political issue, it is a family issue.

“We now hope that MPs from across the political spectrum continue to show their support and send a message to the Government that refugees in this country should be reunited with their families.”

Angus MacNeil’s Private Member’s Bill is supported by Families Together, a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International, STAR Network, Refugee Council, UNHCR and the British Red Cross amongst others.

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Renfrewshire Child Protection Conference focuses on children’s emotional health and wellbeing

More than 200 child protection professionals gathered today in Paisley for a Child Protection Conference on the theme of promoting children’s emotional health and wellbeing.

Staff from Renfrewshire Council, the NHS, Police Scotland, and other local agencies involved in looking after young people were among those who attended.

Keynote speakers at the bi annual event at Paisley Town Hall included Kate Cairns, author of the  bestselling book, Attachment, Trauma and Resilience and the ‘Five to Thrive’ model of parenting and Julia Donaldson, the Clinical Director with the Glasgow Infant and Family Team.

Senior Forensic Psychologist Dan Johnson, who heads the psychology service at the town’s Kibble Education and Care Centre, addressed the conference on trauma and informed care.

Delegates also heard from John Paterson, the independent chair of Renfrewshire Child Protection Committee, which organised the event and brings together all the organisations involved in protecting children in the area.

There was a presentation on the specially commissioned Children and Young People Well-being survey by Renfrewshire Council’s Director of Children’s Services Peter MacLeod and Kate Tobin from the Dartington Social Research Unit.

Renfrewshire was the first local authority in the UK to measure the well-being of children and young people using a census approach in 2011, and the only one to repeat the survey.

Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children’s services Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson, who opened the conference, said: “Children’s emotional health and wellbeing is a building block for educational attainment and can prevent future problems like mental health problems and substance misuse.

“It’s important to understand young people and the issues facing them to give them the best possible start in life and allow them to fulfil their potential.

“Events like this are vital in information sharing for the professionals involved in that field.”

Carol Burt and Debbie Campbell from the ‘I am Me Scotland’ team also gave a presentation on the #MakeaDifference programme they are delivering in primary schools to raise awareness of the harm caused by bullying and hate crime.

Pupils from Paisley’s  Gallowhill Primary School, Mikey, 9, Liam and Abbey, both aged 10 and 11-year-old Aimee, told delegates about the work they have been doing with the charity to help tackle bullying, including making worry boxes where they can share any concerns anonymously.

John Paterson, the independent chair of Renfrewshire Child Protection Committee, said:  “I’m extremely pleased the event is taking place and focussing on children’s emotional health and wellbeing.

“Everybody accepts it’s an area which needs the engagement of a wide range of agencies. Events like this will help ensure that this happens and  focus attention on areas where we can seek to make a real difference.”

Anybody with any child protection concerns is encouraged to contact Renfrewshire Council’s social work team on 0300 300 1199 or Police Scotland.

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My modern apprenticeship is ‘life changing’

The only job Angus Robertson had before becoming a modern apprentice was when he was hired for a fortnight to pitch dozens of tents inside a warehouse for a camping equipment trade show.

But the 19-year-old is now in pole position to embark on a worthwhile career after intu Braehead gave him the chance to become a modern apprentice at the shopping and leisure destination.

Speaking during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, 19-year-old Angus, from Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire describes working at intu Braehead as “life-changing” and is urging other young people to apply for modern apprenticeships.

Angus started his two-year modern apprenticeship at intu Braehead in December 2016 and for the first year was given training and work experience in the many different areas of work that go into running a large shopping centre like intu Braehead.

He’s worked in customer service, business support, marketing, health and safety, retail liaison, human resources and security.

Now in his second year, Angus – a former Gryffe High pupil and student at West College Scotland – has chosen to specialise in Health and Safety and having already gained a Level 2 qualification in Business and Administration, he hopes to receive an Occupational Health and Safety Level 3 qualification by the end of his modern aprenticeship.

He is also guaranteed a full-time job with intu Braehead after his apprenticeship is completed.
Angus said: “If it wasn’t for this modern apprenticeship I wouldn’t have had the same opportunity to develop myself both professionally and personally. I’ve come on leaps and bounds since I’ve been at intu Braehead. It’s given me a platform to achieve.

“Having this job also lets me contribute financially at home where I stay with my mum and dad and I’ve been able to do things like pay for my own driving lessons.

“I would encourage young people to apply for modern apprenticeships because it gives you a launch pad for the rest of your working life.”

Angus continued: “When I was at college I decided I wanted to get into the world of work and start earning money that would allow me to pay my own way and get some independence.

“I’d applied for jobs for a few months, got interviews, but didn’t get offered anything. The only job I did get was for two weeks and it was to pitch tents inside a warehouse and steam out the creases in the material the tents were made of for a trade show.

“Thanks to intu Braehead I’ll get a qualification, I won’t have any debt from having a student loan, I’m earning money and I’m getting on the job experience.
“I call it the University of Work.”

One of the high points of Angus’s first year was creating and making a presentation to the intu’s board of directors about the company’s modern apprenticeship scheme.

He added: “I will look back on my time at intu Braehead as a life-changing experience.”

Peter Beagley, regional centre director at intu Braehead: “There are more than 8000 jobs supported by intu Braehead, paying £128 million in wages to those directly employed here. And we’re also looking for ways to create even more jobs.

“But it’s really satisfying to see someone like Angus being given the opportunity to forge a career for himself and develop and mature as a young person.”

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St Mirren stars immortalised at former Love Street stadium

The names have been revealed of the former St Mirren stars to have a street named in their honour in new housing on the site of the club’s old Love Street ground.

Renfrewshire Council ran the #SaintsStreets competition which gave supporters the chance to name five streets at the new affordable housing development.

Work is already underway on the £17million project being delivered by Sanctuary Scotland, in partnership with Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Government, to transform the site into 132 new affordable homes.

St Mirren-related suggestions came flooding in with 1000 whittled down by a judging panel into a final shortlist which went to the public vote earlier this month.

More than 6,000 votes were cast during the week-long poll before the following five names emerged as the winners:

Abercromby Avenue – marking the achievements of 1987 Scottish Cup winning captain and cult-hero Billy Abercromby, infamous for his no-nonsense approach.

Fitzpatrick Way – in honour of current club chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick who was also part of the 1987 Scottish Cup winning team and enjoyed two spells as manager.

McGarry Terrace – recognising forward Steven McGarry who helped the club he supports to the 2000 First Division title and in memory of his late father Tam, a well-known St Mirren supporter.

Saints Street – celebrating the affectionate name for all St Mirren supporters.

Yardley Avenue – named after popular striker Mark Yardley whose glut of goals propelled Saints into the top flight in 2000.

These five streets add to two already named ‘North Bank’ and ‘Cairter’s Corner’ after well-known sections of the old ground they sit on the locations of.

Sanctuary Scotland has also confirmed it will name the children’s play area at the new housing development after the club’s mascot Paisley Panda.

Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “Congratulations to the past players on emerging victorious from what was an extremely strong shortlist. The competition really sparked the public imagination and we were overwhelmed by the interest it generated.

“We felt it was really important that we celebrate the rich history of the site as it is transformed into new homes to be enjoyed by families for generations to come. The development is already taking shape and will contribute towards our target to build 1000 high quality affordable homes in Renfrewshire by 2021.”

The Sanctuary development is due to be completed by September 2019. It will provide 103 houses for social rent and a further 29 houses for affordable sale through the New Supply Shared Equity scheme.

Gillian Lavety, Head of Development for Sanctuary Scotland, said: “Sanctuary is delighted Renfrewshire Council allowed St Mirren supporters to choose the names of these streets. Many who voted would have attended Love Street religiously and have glorious memories of the old ground.

“At Sanctuary we believe it’s important to recognise the history of the sites we develop. These names are fitting tributes to the local legends they immortalise and the affectionate name all fans have for St Mirren.”

St Mirren Chief Executive Tony Fitzpatrick said: “It’s an incredible honour to have a street named after me at Love Street and it means the world to know my family name will always be there. The big memory was when I was 12 years old and stood at the top of the terracing at the Love Street end, and looking down on the park I made my decision I wanted to play for St Mirren.

“That was almost 50 years ago – St Mirren has been a massive part of my life ever since and the fans have always been brilliant to me, so I want to thank everyone who voted for me. I’m pleased to see something positive happen with the Love Street site – just one of many good things happening around Paisley just now.”

Now living in Australia, Steven McGarry said: “We are all humbled and thankful for the amount of support through the votes. I suspect 99% of them were for my dad as he had such an impact with good relationships with many of the saints supporters, players and club over the years. To be named along with such legends of the club, Tony Fitzpatrick, Billy Abercromby and Mark Yardley is such an honour. Love Street will always hold a place in our hearts and this makes it even more special.

“Love Street and St Mirren were a massive part of my childhood. My dad started taking me to games ever since I was two. The biggest memory would be no surprise, being part of that special team in 1999/2000 and scoring against Raith Rovers to help clinch the Championship in such a spectacular season will live with me forever.”

Mark Yardley said: “The atmosphere generated at home matches was amazing. I always remember how passionate and loyal our supporters were, through the very good, but also some very bad times. The noise they made was appreciated by all the players and I loved playing at Love Street and it was even better scoring there many times over the years.

“For me to be one of the lucky five winners of the Saints Streets competition it is an absolute honour and I feel so privileged to be voted by the supporters. To make the top five has made me one of the proudest and happiest men in the world and how grateful I will always be to them for this accolade.”

Billy Abercromby said: “I had two dreams, one to be a professional footballer, another to win a major trophy. Being the captain was the icing on the cake and now I can walk down my own street – that’s something special.

“I loved playing at Love Street every week, supporters singing my song gave me a wee boost. Playing here was my life and I had some great moments, like scoring two goals against the then European champions Liverpool and nutmegging Ray Clemence with my penalty as I just shut my eyes and kicked it.”