St Anthony's Primary 2 Pupils - Olivia Regan, Jack McLaughlin, David Baird and Corey Jamieson

Education Scotland inspection hails progress in improving literacy, numeracy and work to close the poverty-related attainment gap

Renfrewshire Council is the first local authority in Scotland to be rated ‘excellent’ for its progress in improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

St Anthony's Primary 2 Pupils - Olivia Regan, Jack McLaughlin, David Baird and Corey Jamieson

Education Scotland published its inspection report today (Tuesday 19 February 2019) on progress in Renfrewshire and found significant year-on-year improvements in listening, talking, reading, writing and numeracy, with the attainment gap closing across all measures.

Renfrewshire is one of nine ‘challenge authorities’ in the Scottish Government funded Scottish Attainment Challenge, to close the attainment gap between those living in Scotland’s least and most deprived areas.

The report praises the “very successful” evidence-based, universal approach which sees support extended across all 62 primary, secondary and Additional Support Needs schools in Renfrewshire, a region where 27% of pupils live in Scotland’s most deprived areas.

Citing ‘highly effective leadership’, ‘excellent governance’ and a ‘shared vision’, it praises the culture where all staff are empowered to improve outcomes for pupils, their families and communities.

Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader Jim Paterson, Convener of Renfrewshire’s Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, said: “This is an exceptional endorsement from Education Scotland and testament to the innovative way Renfrewshire is raising attainment for all children and young people while also closing the poverty related attainment gap. We are delighted that significant progress has been shown in both measures.

“Our success is down to a collective approach. Children and young people have gained belief in themselves and I want to thank them and their parents and carers for their effort and commitment to learning. Our Children’s Services team has, through outstanding governance and leadership, also provided the right support and created the space to allow schools to deliver high quality learning and teaching.

“And staff in schools have once again shown their commitment to doing the best for our children by committing the energy and drive to deliver innovative approaches which are changing the opportunities for Renfrewshire children both during their school years and for their choices when they leave school.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Improving the education and life chances of our children and young people is the defining mission of this government. Central to this is the Scottish Attainment Challenge which is supporting hundreds of schools to develop approaches to improve literacy, numeracy and health and well-being that help close the poverty-related attainment gap.

“I would like to congratulate Renfrewshire Council on becoming the first local authority in Scotland to be rated ‘excellent’ for their progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap. It is clear that the close collaboration between their dedicated and empowered workforce and their wider school communities is having a significant and positive impact.

“These results are extremely encouraging and I look forward to seeing how the local authority builds on this momentum to truly ensure that every child in Renfrewshire is given the best possible start in life, no matter their background.”

As a Challenge Authority, Renfrewshire has received £10.4million in Scottish Government attainment challenge funding since June 2016 and has achieved an 11 percentage point increase in expected levels of literacy and a 5 percentage point increase in expected levels of numeracy from 2015-2018. Over the same period, the poverty-related attainment gap has reduced by 6 percentage points in literacy and 4 percentage points in numeracy.

The report highlights Renfrewshire’s ‘outstanding approach’ in using data to inform improvements, with data mentors in every primary school and principal teachers for raising attainment in each secondary school, helping build staff expertise in data analysis.

Gayle Gorman, Chief Inspector of Education for Scotland, said: “Closing the attainment gap is vital for a modern, successful Scotland and that is why, since late 2017, Education Scotland’s Inspectors have been working in partnership with Audit Scotland with the goal of reporting on the progress made by local authorities in improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

“These reports are vital to learn and share how well local authorities are doing and it is an absolute delight to see Renfrewshire Council’s report. Everyone should be delighted to see the impact of their work on children and young people. The clear and consistent

focus on improving aspects of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing is helping to meet more effectively the specific needs of individual pupils.

“No doubt this is in part to a number of strategic approaches, in addressing the impact of poverty on the outcomes of children, young people, their families and the community. Addressing this impact has also been key and the improvement plan reflects very clearly the council’s strong commitment to early intervention together with the council’s very successful strategy of using universal approaches to raise attainment for all, alongside targeted interventions to close the poverty-related attainment gap.

“The commitment and focus of Renfrewshire Council on developing high-quality learning and teaching and leadership at all levels has led to improvements in children’s and young people’s learning and progress. I am particularly pleased to hear of the work being undertaken to listen to the voice of children and young people to help shape improvement in the authority. I am also very aware of the hard work that will have been undertaken by teachers, support staff and communities to achieve this success and would like to thank all of them for their commitment to improving the life chances of Scotland’s children.”

Hundreds of Renfrewshire staff have benefited from professional learning which is described in the report as ‘sector-leading’, including leadership development for headteachers and senior school staff and specialised literacy and numeracy training for classroom assistants.

Initiatives which have delivered success include pizza family learning, where more than 300 family members have enjoyed tea-time study sessions which look at literacy and numeracy.

A Cost of the School Day fund sees parents and school staff work together to ensure all children can take part in school activities and participate fully in their school.

More than 3800 pupils from 27 schools have also benefited from the PATHS programme which develops self-control and has seen a significant reduction in anti-social behaviour, while 49 schools so far have worked with the educational psychology service to embed a nurturing approach which helps children to learn and develop socially and emotionally.

Strong relationships have been built between schools and parents, encouraging greater family and parental engagement, with inclusion support assistants to help pupils struggling with attendance, school engagement or difficult home circumstances.

Steven Quinn, Interim Director of Children’s Services, said: “The additional resource from the Scottish Attainment Challenge has enabled us to increase the pace and widen the scope of our work to deliver high quality learning and teaching. This is improving attainment and achievement in all Renfrewshire schools, reducing inequalities and improving health and wellbeing for children and supporting young people into positive destinations after school.

“This excellent inspection report reflects the incredible work taking place in our schools and by the central education team to achieve these goals. We have invested heavily in our teachers and in our support staff, recognising the incredibly important role they have in shaping children and young people’s lives. We will now build on this progress and ensure we have the plans in place to continue this great work.”

The different initiatives were delivered and evaluated in partnership with experts at the University of Strathclyde while the Council’s education team also worked closely with the Robert Owen Centre at the University of Glasgow to co-ordinate work that delivers the maximum impact.

Professor Sue Ellis, from the University of Strathclyde’s School of Education, said: “The Renfrewshire Literacy Approach is evidence of the successful partnership between the University of Strathclyde and Renfrewshire Council and has addressed real-life, complex problems of practice and led to improvements year on year.

“It has made a real difference to the children of Renfrewshire by raising attainment, improving learning and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. Everyone from academics, head teachers and teachers, local authority staff and classroom assistants, worked on introducing a diverse range of children’s literature, as well as learning and teaching activities that engaged children on all levels. That valuable work has generated knowledge about effective literacy teaching and project implementation, as well as assessment and leadership, that can now inform policy and practice across the whole of Scotland.”

Professor Chris Chapman, Director of Policy Scotland at the University of Glasgow and Co-Director of the Robert Owen Centre, said: “The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change has been working with key local authority leaders to develop a shared vision and understanding of the complexity and challenges of closing the poverty related attainment gap.

“We supported the development of Renfrewshire’s strategic approach, working with key partners to optimise the impact on children and young people’s outcomes. We’re delighted Renfrewshire’s approach and commitment to the major challenge of our time has been recognised in this inspection report.”

carer

2,535 carers in Renfrewshire get £221 each in first payments from Social Security Scotland 

 

Over 77,000 carers who were getting Carer’s Allowance from the DWP on 16 April 2018 were paid an additional £221 from the Scottish Government – totalling an investment of £17.2 million.

carer

Showing the importance the Scottish Government places on recognising the role of carers, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement was the first payment to be made by Social Security Scotland, which was launched in September 2018. A second annual payment was made in December 2018.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security, Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“These payments marked a momentous moment – one where the most significant new public service since devolution became real. With this one payment alone, this new service helped 77,620 people including 2,535 in Renfrewshire.

“This is just the start. Once fully operational, Social Security Scotland will administer 14 benefits, supporting 1.4 million people and providing approximately £3.5 billion in payments every year.

Social Security Scotland Chief Executive, David Wallace, said:

“Our priority is to make sure that people get the right amount of money paid to them, into the right place and at the right time. We were happy to have done this successfully for this first round of payments.

“In addition to making sure that people get the money that they are due, we were delighted with the general feedback on our service. We have worked hard to make sure our client correspondence is clear, that our service on the phone is friendly and informative and that people feel like they are being treated with dignity, fairness and respect in every interaction with us. This has clearly worked and is something we will build upon as we introduce future benefits”

Gleniffer High

Young people and staff from Gleniffer High School got the chance to meet the Scottish Government’s Minister for Mental Health as she paid a visit to the school as part of Children’s Mental Health Week.

Gleniffer High

Pupils and staff spoke with Clare Haughey about the different ways the school are supporting pupils and highlighting the importance of mental health across the whole school community.

Improving the health and wellbeing of pupils is a significant part of Renfrewshire’s Attainment Challenge Strategy, and Gleniffer High School are adopting a school-wide nurture approach, focusing on whole school activities and a programme of both staff and peer-led wellbeing support.

Head-teacher at Gleniffer, Lisa Chalmers has used Pupil Equity Funding, part of the £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund, to create posts within the school targeted at closing the poverty related attainment group through support and nurture.

Gleniffer High

She said:

“We have a number of staff who have volunteered to take on extra responsibility, working with our S1 pupils and interviewing them using health and wellbeing indicators. They are on hand to offer advice when needed and can report back to our Pastoral Support team if there are any issues.

“We were also able to use the Pupil Equity Fund to bring in a second Transition Teacher, working with target pupils in S1 who may be struggling and supporting them in core subjects such as maths and literacy.”

Gleniffer High

The success of the peer-led Hearty Lives group has also helped raise awareness of mental health in a positive and engaging manner within the school, and the group run a lunchtime hub promoted as a safe place where all pupils are welcome.

Gleniffer High

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said:

“Gleniffer is a great example of the how we can support the wellbeing of our children and young people by bringing together their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

“It’s crucial that children and young people are supported at important junctures such as their transition in and beyond schools.

“This is also the approach we are putting in place through our Programme for Government, which has committed £250 million to build a world-class mental health system that works for everyone.”

Children’s Mental Health Week takes place this year from Monday 4 February to Sunday 10 February and this year is focused on taking steps to be healthy both inside and out.

Renfrewshire Council’s Young People’s Champion, Councillor Michelle Campbell, was at Gleniffer High School to meet the Minister for Mental Health and to hear from the young people about the activities taking place in the school to promote a positive mental health.

Councillor Campbell said:

“Having worked in the mental health field I firmly believe that having a good mental health as a young person is key to their development and their success in later life. I’m delighted that the young people at Gleniffer are so involved in promoting positive health and wellbeing in the school community.

“The school have implemented some excellent initiatives using Attainment Scotland funding, complementing the existing work going on in schools Renfrewshire-wide to develop and support the mental, social and emotional health of our children and young people.”

paisley town hall

The people of Paisley are getting their first glimpse at what to expect from their transformed town hall – including entirely new rooms inside the existing building, and an increased capacity allowing bigger-name performers to bring new life to the town.

paisley town hall

The magnificent Victorian-era town hall is currently undergoing major internal refurbishment into what will be one of the West of Scotland’s landmark entertainment venues when it reopens in 2021.

Renfrewshire Council is leading the work to turn the much-loved 19th-century architectural gem into a 21st-century facility which will drive new footfall to the area, while delivering upgrades essential to keep it at the heart of local life for generations to come.

paisley town hall

Some initial artist images have been released, with more to follow in the coming weeks, and features people can look forward to in the revamped building include:

– the capacity of the main hall increased to 1,200 for a standing gig, allowing the venue to attract bigger and better shows than ever before, boosting the local night-time economy;

paisley town hall

– entirely new rooms created inside the current building – including a new café-bar and dance studio built in currently-unused space. There will also be a smaller venue-within-a-venue – meaning more use, more footfall, and a better range of community events;

– transformed audience experience including lowered stage, new seating, better sightlines and acoustics, new reception area, and much improved access to and around the building;

– an entire replacement of the building’s decades-old electrical and mechanical equipment, and improved backroom facilities allowing more weddings and conferences;

The council is taking forward the £22m work as part of a much-bigger investment in the town centre designed to change the area’s future using its internationally-significant cultural and heritage story.

That includes a transformation of Paisley Museum which will almost quadruple current visitor numbers, a new modern home for library services on the High Street, and major investment in key outdoor spaces such as Abbey Close and County Square to create places which will keep residents, students and visitors in the town for longer.

The building’s operators Renfrewshire Leisure have already been speaking to some of Scotland’s top music promoters about using the venue when it reopens.

Mark Mackie, of Regular Music – who has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names as the man behind massive gigs including the Castle Concerts at Edinburgh Castle and Summer Nights at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Bandstand, said: “As a Paisley buddy myself, I’m really excited about the transformation of Paisley Town Hall.

“This investment is great news for gig-goers in the west of Scotland and it’s definitely a venue Regular Music would look to bring bands to. The new facilities, refurbished auditorium and café-bar will make it a must-visit venue for bands and audiences.”

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “Paisley Town Hall is a much-loved building which has been at the heart of life in the town for generations – but to keep it there the interior of this beautiful building needs the revamp now being delivered.

“The council is making a substantial investment – not just to do the necessary maintenance to keep the building viable, but to take what it can do to a totally new level.

“As a result, the revamp is predicted to double the number of people who use it each year – bringing new life to the town centre and helping anchor our ongoing wider work to use our outstanding cultural and heritage story to bring new visitors to the area.

“It also means creating a facility in which people will be able to experience world-class culture on their own doorstep, with all the opportunities that means to make people’s lives better.

“And while the renovation is happening we will be making sure everybody knows Paisley continues to remain open for business.”

The building is being redesigned by award-winning architects Holmes Miller, whose previous projects include the redevelopment of Old Trafford and reshaping Hampden for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The town hall revamp is being run by Renfrewshire Council in partnership with Hub West Scotland – a Scottish-Government-backed firm who help public-sector bodies get value for money when investing in large infrastructure projects.

The council worked with Homes Miller and Hub West Scotland on the new Johnstone Town Hall –which has won a string of industry awards since it opened in 2015.

Initial work to clear out the building is already under way, with stonework and roof repairs taking place over the summer, ahead of main construction work starting towards the end of the year. The building is due to reopen in late 2021.

RL-Wedding-Fayre-A5-DS-Flyer-19-01-19-FINAL-1

Planning to get married will be a piece of wedding cake thanks to an event taking place at Johnstone Town Hall.

All you need when planning for the big day will be on hand at a Wedding Fayre being staged by Renfrewshire Leisure on Sunday, February 17 between 11am and 3pm.

RL-Wedding-Fayre-A5-DS-Flyer-19-01-19-FINAL-1

The event will feature a wide variety of local wedding suppliers, from photographers to kiltmakers and florists to candy carts.

It will also give future brides and grooms the chance to view a wedding set-up in Johnstone Town Hall, which has hosted many such receptions.

They will also be able to experience the award-winning venue’s state-of-the-art technical facilities and have a look around the dedicated marriage suite. Free consultations will also be available with wedding co-ordinators on the day.

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

For more information contact Renfrewshire Leisure on 0300 300 1210.

EXTERNAL PERSPECTIVE - credit CRGP Architects & Surveyors

Plans to build a state-of-the-art athletics facility in Renfrewshire have taken a step forward after councillors backed a Community Asset Transfer to Kilbarchan Amateur Athletics Club (AAC).

INTERNAL PERPSECTIVE 1 - credit CRGP Architects & Surveyors

More than 4000sqm of land will be transferred to the local club to progress plans for a £1.3million indoor facility, which would allow year-round training and be built alongside the outdoor track and field facilities at Linwood’s On-X sports centre.

The proposed indoor training centre would provide the club with:

–     a 60m running track;
–     Horizontal and vertical jumps;
–     Pole vault;
–     Indoor throws cage- including javelin;
–     Club room;
–     Strength and conditioning area

EXTERNAL PERSPECTIVE - credit CRGP Architects & Surveyors

Two of the clubs most high-profile members are Olympians Callum and Derek Hawkins who represented Great Britain in the Marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics – with Callum finishing in 9th place.

Jim Goudie, Kilbarchan AAC Immediate Past President, said: “This development would offer us the opportunity to train in any weather, all-year-round, and make the On-X Centre a complete facility for elite and club athletes in Renfrewshire.

“We want to bring as many people we can into athletics and having this indoor facility will give people the chance to take up the sport, while keeping younger athletes from becoming disheartened with training sessions cancelled or in the pouring rain.

“We’ve had four Olympians pass through our club so far and we want to give our members the best possible chance to follow in their footsteps – and this facility would do just that.”

In addition to the transfer of the land lease, the project has been allocated £500,000 by Renfrewshire Council to support the development which will provide facilities for both elite and club runners across Renfrewshire.

Councillor Iain Nicolson, Renfrewshire Council Leader, said: “We’re committed to providing opportunities for local groups and residents to make a positive difference to where they live, and the Community Asset Transfer process is one of a number of ways that communities can make their mark.

“The approval of this land transfer will allow Kilbarchan AAC to advance these exciting proposals and the successful completion of the development would significantly enhance the quality of the athletics training facilities available in Renfrewshire.

“The club have a varied membership of both elite and club level athletes and the new facility would not only support the club’s continued development and success, it would also encourage more new members to take up a healthy lifestyle and get involved in sport.”

Scottish Athletics have identified the proposal as an important project within the National Facilities Strategy- which aims to provide athletics with numerous top-class facilities throughout the country to maximise participation and increase standards of performance in all disciplines.

Head of Development for scottishathletics, Colin Hutchison, said: “scottishathletics is delighted that Renfrewshire Council has agreed a Community Asset Transfer with Kilbarchan AAC. As the governing body for athletics in Scotland we are fully behind Kilbarchan’s proposed facility development at the On-X in Linwood and are excited about the opportunities it will present for the club and athletics in Renfrewshire.

“The commitment from the club’s volunteers to get the project to this stage has been phenomenal and we are all extremely grateful to the generous funders that are contributing to the project. The facility will be vital to continue growing athletics in Renfrewshire and the indoor facility will greatly enhance the club’s capacity to develop their young athletes year-round.”

The club will now continue to identify funding opportunities to source the remaining financial support required to advance the project to the next stage.

For more information on opportunities for local people or groups in Renfrewshire, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/communityempowerment.

animal-welfare

The Scottish Government have launched a consultation seeking views on proposals to strengthen enforcement powers for animal welfare offences. Proposed amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 would increase the maximum penalty for the most serious cruelty offences from one to five years imprisonment, and a potential unlimited fine. These new tougher penalties could also apply to attacks against service animals, supporting the initiative ‘Finn’s Law.’

Other changes would allow quicker rehoming of abused or neglected animals and give enforcement authorities the ability to issue fixed penalty notices.

animal-welfare

SNP Councillor Natalie Don has welcomed the consultation and the proposed legislative changes.

“I know this is a subject close to many people’s hearts, it is certainly something I feel very passionately about. I cannot understand how anyone could mistreat an animal and these proposed changes which would see more power to local enforcement and tougher laws is welcome.”

“The SNP made strong commitments to improve the welfare of our animals in our Programme for Government and the Scottish Government is taking bold steps to this aim. I hope that strengthening these powers will send a strong message that such abhorrent behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

“The Scottish Government are seeking views from key stakeholders and those with practical experience of animal cruelty to ensure that any steps which are taken are feasible. I know there are many animal welfare charities who do a fantastic job in Renfrewshire and I would encourage all to take part in this consultation to allow a wide range of views to be heard.”

Glasgow Airport exterior

PARTNERS working to deliver a new transport link to Glasgow Airport are developing plans for a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) scheme, as a potential alternative to a tram train.

Glasgow Airport exterior

PRT – which operates at a number of other airports, including Heathrow – was identified as one of two options for airport access in an original Strategic Business Case in 2016.

Partners now believe that it is likely to emerge as the preferred option and will ask the City Region Cabinet to approve work on an Outline Business Case, to be completed later this year.

A meeting of the project’s Executive Steering Group, on Wednesday, heard that the scheme could be delivered within the existing budget and timescale, being operational 2025.

Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Susan Aitken said: “Improved connectivity to Glasgow Airport is a key priority; however the advice from officers and consultants is that significant questions remain about the deliverability of the current tram train option, particularly in relation to capacity at Central Station.

“As a result, the Executive Steering Group has agreed that additional work should be done to establish an alternative Outline Business Case for a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) option. This work was not advanced by the previous City Deal Cabinet, but it is now crucial in order to allow us to make a fully informed choice about which of the options in front of us should be progressed.

“I remain committed to a solution that delivers improved public transport connectivity to Glasgow Airport – but I am determined that it should also provide value for money for the city, and deliver the widest possible inclusive economic benefits. I’m confident that we have made significant progress towards that outcome today.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “This is a really positive step forward and recognition that a transport link between Glasgow City Centre, Paisley and Glasgow Airport is critical to the success of the city region economy.

“It is important we get the right solution which takes in to account competing demands on the existing rail network and delivers for the whole of the City Region. In order to ensure we get the right solution, we now have a clear way forward and agreement to look at a business case for a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system, which can be delivered quickly and finally make the connection between the Airport and the city that business leaders and investors are crying out for.

“Renfrewshire Council is fully supportive of this approach and will be seeking Cabinet approval in the next few weeks to develop an outline business case to deliver a PRT for 2025.”

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “The Scottish Government is committed to the Glasgow City Region Deal and wish to see it succeed, so I’m pleased we have agreement on the way forward for this important project from all members of the Executive Steering Group.

“It’s crucial that improving access to Glasgow Airport is balanced with the needs of the region’s existing transport network. The Personal Rapid Transit system option potentially meets this aim, and I look forward to seeing the revised business case once it’s completed.”

Mark Johnston, managing director at Glasgow Airport, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to meet with the councils and the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP, who convened the meeting to discuss the Glasgow Airport Access Project.

 

“Over the course of the past 10 years, we have been working with partners to address the long standing issue of access to and from Glasgow Airport. With the recent Jacobs report having confirmed congestion on the M8 has reached record levels there is an acceptance by all involved that doing nothing is not an option.

 

“We were informed that due to issues around rail capacity the project partners are developing an alternative option. This will be evaluated and we will of course work with the partners to promote the delivery of an effective solution within the agreed timescale.”

 

Although the detail of a PRT scheme would be developed through the new business case, it would be likely to see passengers use the existing rail network between Central Station and Paisley Gilmour Street – and a second shuttle or pod vehicle between Paisley and the airport.

remembering suicide

Renfrewshire’s annual memorial service to those who have lost their lives to suicide has been held, with more than 120 people paying their respects.

remembering suicide

Local support group Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) hosted the short service on Thursday 24 January at Renfrewshire House, which was led by Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron.

There was a set of readings by Reverend Alan Birss and Father John Eagers, before Choose Life’s Rosemary Mullan read a poignant poem.

remembering suicide

The service was followed by a procession to the memorial tree where Provost Cameron laid a commemorative wreath and people were able to place a purple heart onto the tree with a message to a loved one that had been lost.

Anyone unable to attend the service who wishes a message to be placed onto the tree can visit the council reception at any time to collect a commemorative heart to be placed on the tree.

remembering suicide

Provost Cameron, who helped establish the memorial tree in 2010, said: “This service provides a chance for those who have lost a loved one to grieve, remember and celebrate the person.

“In many ways, it is sad to see the turnout growing at the service each year, but hopefully it shows the taboo around suicide is fading and people are seeking an outlet for support or a chance to remember who they have lost.

remembering suicide

“If you have been affected by suicide in any manner, please get in touch with the Choose Life team. They are available for a chat and can provide you with the support you, or a friend or family member, needs to move forward.”

The memorial tree was first dedicated in 2010 as a permanent memorial to those who have died through suicide and is believed to have been the first of its kind in Scotland.

The service aims to provide an opportunity to remember those who have been lost while providing an arm of support to the survivors. It is an opportunity to connect with others who have faced similar situations.

If you are feeling suicidal, or you know someone that might be then please call one of the helpline numbers: Samaritan’s 116 123, Breathing Space 0800 83 85 87, RAMH First Crisis 0141 849 90 90 or 0500 829 093

For more information contact the Choose Life Team on 0141 849 2200 or visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/sobs.

Sean Batty

Renfrewshire’s newly-named gritters are on the web, as well as the road, this year as part of a drive to highlight the dedicated work of council staff.

The community can now track the whereabouts of the gritters on the council’s website as they tackle priority routes on a 24/7 schedule throughout the winter period.

Sean Batty

All nine of Renfrewshire’s gritters have new names following a successful #NameOurGritters competition, designed to engage the local community in winter preparedness – part of the annual #RenReady campaign.

Ploughlo Grittini, Tony Gritzpatrick, Gerry Raffersleigh and William Wall-ice were famous faces from Renfrewshire chosen as winners, with local places Fridge of Weir, Gleniffer Brrraes and Paisleigh also making the cut, alongside Buddie Baltic.

STV weatherman Sean Batty also has his very own gritter namesake, Thawin’ Batty, and he’s looking forward to finding out where he is throughout the winter.

Sean said: “As a weatherman, it is definitely one of the most interesting times of year but also very challenging. This winter, I have the additional excitement of watching out for Thawin Batty on the roads across Renfrewshire, and with the online tracker that will be even easier.

“We’ll need to wait and see what Mother Nature has in store for us and whether it’ll turn cold and icy or stay a more mild, wet and windy winter.

“Whatever the weather holds, I’ll be thinking too about our road workers who’ll be keeping us safe.”

The competition saw more than 1600 suggestions submitted and more than 8000 votes cast as the nine winners were chosen to patrol Renfrewshire’s streets this winter.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “We prepare months in advance of winter arriving and our teams have been working hard  for months now to keep the roads clear and gritted as best we can.

“Our winter teams work throughout the night and I’m pleased that the community will be able to see our gritting teams out working in all conditions.

“The added bonus of those familiar Renfrewshire names will help keep people interested and I would encourage everyone to check our website for information on how to be prepared for all eventualities this winter.”

Each gritter is fitted with a tracking device and people will be able to follow them as they clear snow and grit the roads in advance of, and during, freezing conditions.

For more information on winter preparedness and to follow the gritters, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/readyforwinter.