Renfrewshire Council is the first local authority in Scotland where councillors across all parties have signed up to participate in Dementia Friends Scotland sessions.

Elected members at the local authority have committed to become Dementia Friends, joining tens of thousands across Scotland, to learn more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people with the condition.

The initiative has attracted cross party support, and the sessions, run by charity Alzheimer Scotland, are understood to be the first uptake across an entire Council chamber.

It’s part of a move towards being a ‘dementia friendly’ council and Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Many of us will know people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s and the challenges they and their families can face. By attending the Dementia Friends sessions, we want to make sure we do all we can to understand and support those with dementia, and support communities trying to create a kind and friendly environment that ensures people continue to feel valued and supported.
“It’s an issue that sadly affects almost every family in Scotland and one in which we all want to play our part in helping in whatever small way we can, regardless of political affiliations.”

Dementia isn’t an inevitable part of ageing but is caused by diseases of the brain. There are around 90,000 people living with the condition in Scotland, with more than 3,000 under the age of 65. In Renfrewshire around 2,750 people have dementia and related conditions.

More than half of Scots with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease but other forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.

The village of Lochwinnoch has become the first in Renfrewshire to become a dementia friendly community. It is introducing ways of ensuring that those with the condition can feel supported as they go about their everyday lives.

Senior primary school children in the village, which has around 3,000 residents, have attended awareness sessions and local businesses want to support those with the condition to ensure they can remain part of the community.
A steering group set up has organised events like tea dances where people with dementia and their carers can come and feel supported.
Organiser Dr Morag Thow said: “We are trying to encourage people with dementia to stay part of the community and live the lives they want. It’s part of being a kind community and it’s great to feel supported by a kind council.
“It can be a simple as the way shops arrange their displays and signage. A person with dementia might have trouble reading a sign that says ‘Ladies’ but would recognise the picture of a loo. They can also have problems with colour and working out light and shade.
“There are things we can all do – if you meet someone and you know they have dementia you just take your time with them and offer them assistance.
“It’s also demystifying it – people with dementia can and do lead very active lives. They just have limitations with memory, especially in the early stages.
“I would say that most families are affected by dementia, whether it’s somebody actually in your own family or somebody you know who has a relative with it.”

Anne McWhinnie, Dementia Friends Programme Manager at Alzheimer Scotland said: “We’re delighted that Renfrewshire Council have made the commitment to become Dementia Friends. Alzheimer Scotland believes that nobody should face dementia alone. By taking the time to understand a little of what it’s like to live with dementia, and the little ways in which we can be more helpful and patients, we can make a real difference in our communities.”

Additional Information for Dementia Friends release

It should be noted for the purposes of captioning pictures with this release, that many of the people in pictures do not have dementia but are part of the wider supportive community and/or friends, family and relatives of those who do.

Picture caption: Members

An exhibition at Paisley Museum shows the intricate art of creating pictures from etching.
Etching as a printing method is thought to go as far back as the 15th century and the exhibition features artwork creating by several different forms of the process.


A selection of Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture prints created by etching is now on show at Paisley Museum in a free exhibition, which goes on until June 24.

The exhibition, Ages of Wonder – Art of Etching, includes prints from artists like Alexander Runciman and David Wilkie to Elizabeth Blackadder and Will Maclean.

Visitors can see the best Scottish printmaking of the last two centuries from the RSA’s Recognised Collection of National Significance along with new prints created by contemporary artists.

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “The prints created from etching that are on display at Paisley Museum are absolutely stunning.

“You can’t help but admire the skill and expertise of the artists and the exhibition is well worth seeing.”

PARENTS of babies under 12 months old can now go swimming with their children for free at all Renfrewshire Leisure-run pools.


The new initiative was launched after mum, Laura Bartlett, from Johnstone approached her local councillor, Jacqueline Cameron about people on parental leave not getting a concessionary price to go swimming, even though they are being paid less money, or getting no wage from their employers.

Councillor Cameron raised the issue with the chair of Renfrewshire Leisure’s board, fellow councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes and it was decided to introduce the free swimming for parents who come to pools with their babies, who are under a year old.


Laura, who regularly goes swimming with her daughter, Rosie, now aged one, said: “I think this is fantastic news and it’s a great encouragement for parents of young babies to go swimming together.
“I’ve been taking Rosie to the pool at Johnstone Sports Hub since she was about three months old and it’s great for her development. It’s an activity we enjoy doing together.

“I didn’t think it was fair that I was having to pay full price to go swimming, even though I wasn’t bringing in as much money while I was on maternity leave and there would be other people in the same position as me.”

Councillor Cameron added: “When Laura came to see me and explained the situation I thought hers was such a good idea I wished I’d thought of it myself!

“I spoke to Councillor Hughes as chair of Renfrewshire Leisure and she agreed we should give free access to swimming pools for people on parental leave with babies under 12 months.”

Councillor Hughes said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to live healthy lifestyles. It’s a good idea to introduce babies to the water at an early age and they love being in the pool.

“As a board, we didn’t think it was right that if parents were bringing home less money because they were on parental leave, they should pay full price when they came to one of our pools with their babies.”

LESLEY Cochrane has been given ten out of ten for the way she runs her fitness classes.
After all, she’s been teaching Body Attack, Body Pump and Body Combat for ten years, this month.

Lesley, 42, from Linwood is a fitness instructor with Renfrewshire Leisure and was given a round of applause by her class at Linwood’s ON-X Sports Centre last week, when they were told it was the tenth anniversary of her teaching the popular workouts, devised by the internationally-renowned fitness guru, Les Mills.

Lesley said: “I can hardly believe it’s been ten years since I took my first Body Attack class, in the old Linwood Sports Centre.

“We’ve had some great times at the classes over the years and once we were in the sports hall and there some kids playing on a bouncy castle next to us. The youngsters were watching us, then started copying our moves and before I knew it, they had moved over to our side of the hall and joined the class.

“I do all the exercises along with the class and it was such a hard physical workout, I thought I wouldn’t last another ten classes, never mind ten years of classes.
“But I’ve got a lot fitter myself over the years by taking these classes and there are women who were at my first class and still come along today.”

Two of these women are Hazel Black and Kam Bamrah, both from Houston Renfrewshire.
Hazel said: “Going to Lesley’s classes has been really enjoyable and I’ve made some good friends there. It’s exercise and fun at the same time.”

Kam added: “We know we’ll always get a good workout with Lesley. I’ve been coming for such a long time because I really enjoy her classes.”

Renfrewshire Leisure chief executive, Joyce McKellar said: “Our aim is to make keeping fit as interesting and as enjoyable as possible. With instructors like Lesley working for us and the fact people have been coming to the classes for ten years, shows that we’re doing exactly that.”

Changing facilities for people with disabilities are being upgraded at two sports and leisure centres.
Work has already started to create refurbished changing rooms at The Lagoon, in Paisley and Linwood’s ON-X sports centre.


Once completed in three weeks time, the facilities will meet the standards of the Changing Places Consortium – a UK organisation that campaigns for better toilets and changing facilities for people with profound learning or physical disabilities.

The new changing facilities for disabled people will have a height adjustable adult-size changing table, hoist, new sanitary fittings, supporting handrails and upgraded heating.

While the work at The Lagoon is ongoing, disabled people who want to visit a swimming pool are advised to use the ON-X, which has alternative changing facilities.

Renfrewshire Council is meeting the £29,000 cost of refurbishing both disabled changing areas in the two sports centres operated by Renfrewshire Leisure.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “Bringing the facilities up to Changing Places standard shows we’re committed to making sure no one is prevented from using the excellent sports and leisure facilities we have in Renfrewshire because of a disability.”

A friend in need of a good workout in the gym is a friend indeed.

That’s the message from Renfrewshire Leisure as they prepare to offer their gym members the chance to bring a friend for free this weekend.

The amazing offer runs on Saturday and Sunday, April 7 and 8 and gym members’ friends, partners, or family members can try out one of the fitness suites, fitness classes, or swimming pools at no charge.
The venues where you can bring a friend for free are – Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley; ON-X, in Linwood; Renfrew Sports Centre; Johnstone Community Sports Hub and Erskine Community Sports Centre.

The centres have organised extra fitness classes, gym tours and free fun activities for kids.
The gym membership team will also be on hand with exclusive offers that will only be available to purchase in person during the Bring a Friend Weekend. These include 50 per cent off your first 3 months of membership or £50 off any annual membership.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “Coming to the gym or taking part in a fitness class is not just about keeping fit. There’s a great social element to it when you can meet up with people.

“Our Bring a Friend for Free initiative is a great way to get your family or friends to come along and enjoy the benefits of the gym, fitness class or a swim in the pool.”
Log on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com for more information.

Plans to secure a exciting future for Paisley will be laid out at a celebration event aimed at highlighting the benefits of bidding for UK City of Culture 2021 and how the town plans to continue to harness the power of culture to transform its fortunes.

The ‘Our Journey Continues’ event, which will take place on Thursday 29 March at Paisley Town Hall from 12.00 – 1.30pm, will examine the key benefits of the town’s bid including helping to raise the town’s profile, raising ambitions for the area, developing a deeper understanding of the excellent work taking place in the community.

The town’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 changed the town for the better, and the momentum it generated will continue and this will be discussed in more detail at the event.

In addition to celebrating the work which has already taken place it will also reveal more about the future opportunities. This includes investing in cultural venues and outdoor spaces such as Paisley Museum, Paisley Arts Centre and St James Playing Fields, developing the creative economy and enhancing our cultural events and festivals programme and continuing to build on the support from the community. This investment demonstrates how Renfrewshire continues to buck the trend in terms of cultural investment.

Furthermore it will show that the council and its place partners are still committed to achieving the step changes outlined in the bid – to grow a new dimension to the economy, transform the town’s image, lift Paisley’s communities out of poverty, be recognised for cultural excellence and transform the town into a vibrant cultural centre.

The event will see partners and local community groups come together to find out more about future plans and members of the public are encouraged to come along to learn what will happen next for the town.

Chair of the Paisley Partnership Board, Councillor Iain Nicolson, said: “The Our Journey Continues event is not only a celebration of the excellent work which has already taken place through the bidding process but is a great opportunity for us all to look ahead to the exciting plans for the future.”

This event precedes the Future Forward: Culture in Renfrewshire collaborative discussion which will ask attendees what directions culture in Renfrewshire should take, and what successes people would like to build on.  The event will be held in Paisley Town Hall from 2-4pm.

Renfrewshire Leisure’s Head of Cultural Services, Morag Macpherson, said: “The thank you event is a great introduction to the Culture in Renfrewshire discussion which will allow everyone to have their say on what the priorities for culture in Renfrewshire should be in the years to come.

“I’m sure the plans unveiled through Our Journey Continues, and the ideas and ambitions which people come along with, will create a really rich inspirational mix. We will discuss how we best focus our aspirations and collectively create a really exciting cultural environment over the next few years.”

There will also be another Future Forward session on Tues 17 April 6-8pm, places can be booked here.

Plans to turn Paisley Museum into a world-class destination showcasing the town’s globally-significant textile heritage and unique collections have been awarded £4m by the Scottish Government.

The funding was confirmed today by Scottish Government Minister Kevin Stewart on a visit to the museum to announce a £26 million investment in projects across Scotland.

The boost for the town comes just days after the launch of a new destination brand and website at paisley.is designed to sell Paisley and Renfrewshire as a great place to visit, live and invest.

The revamped museum is expected to bring 125,000 visits a year and build on the town’s fast-growing reputation as a key destination within Scotland.

The £42m project is central to a planned £100m-plus investment in Paisley town centre venues and infrastructure and part of a wider plan to transform the area’s future using Paisley’s cultural and heritage assets and build on the legacy of the town’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “We are delighted the Scottish Government has confirmed this contribution towards the £42m project to transform Paisley Museum

“Between now and 2022 we will work with the local community to create a world-class destination showcasing Paisley’s outstanding art, science and natural history collections, and globally-significant textile heritage.

“The news has come at a great time – coming as we launch Paisley Is…a new destination brand and website dedicated to selling the area as a great place to visit, live and invest.

“Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 raised awareness of our unique story to a worldwide audience, and the museum project is central to a wider set of plans to build on that momentum and make the town one of Scotland’s key visitor destinations.”

Paisley Museum – operated by Renfrewshire Leisure – is due to close this year and reopen in 2022.

The project will see an extension to the current Victorian-era building housing a cafe and shop, improvements to all four museum buildings including the Coats Observatory, changes to physical access, and an internal redesign which will double the number of objects on public display.

It is expected the new building will quadruple current visitor numbers, create a £72m economic boost, and support 138 jobs during the construction phase – and the equivalent of 42 new permanent jobs after that through increased visitor spend.

The plans build on the investment already made in the publicly-accessible museum store Paisley: The Secret Collection, opened last year on the town’s High Street.

Paisley Museum is one 24 projects to benefit from funding announced today through the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF), which supports projects that engage and involve local communities in disadvantaged areas, tackle inequality and support inclusive growth.

The joint Scottish Government and COSLA investment will help to support or create more than 1,400 jobs, refurbish or bring back into use 23 local buildings, support over 300 businesses and community enterprises as well as more than 84 community facilities and services.

Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said: “I’m really pleased that 24 fantastic, locally-driven projects will benefit from this major injection of funding.

“Spanning the length and breadth of the country, they will help regenerate local areas, stimulate inclusive growth and create new jobs.

“The focus of the projects range from tackling social isolation, mitigating welfare cuts, providing training opportunities, creating business space and increasing tourism – to name but a few.

“They are an excellent example of how national and local government are working together on shared priorities that benefit local communities.”

ALL sports and leisure facilities run by Renfrewshire Leisure will re-open tomorrow. (Saturday, March 3)
The facilities, which had been closed because of the recent severe weather, includes sports centres, swimming pools, libraries, Paisley Museum, Paisley Arts Centre, community centres and town halls.


Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Thankfully, it appears we have seen the worst of the extreme weather and we are now able to re-open our facilities.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience while we made adjustments to our services during this exceptional bad weather.

“But I would urge people to please continue to take care when travelling over the next few days.
”Customers can keep up to date on their fitness classes and other events by logging on to www.renfrewshireleisure.com or by calling the sports and leisure facilities on 0300 300 0250 and all cultural venues on 0300 300 1210.

Due to the ongoing severe weather, all sports and leisure facilities along with libraries, Paisley Museum, community centres and town halls operated by Renfrewshire Leisure will remain closed on Friday, March 2.

As the weather warning is expected to be downgraded by the Met Office, a decision on whether events taking place at Paisley Town Hall and Paisley Arts Centre on Friday night should go ahead is to be taken during the day, on Friday.

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “We’d like to thank our staff and our customers for their patience and understanding during this unusually severe weather.

“Indications are that our facilities should re-open on Saturday, March 3. However I would ask that customers check our social media channels to confirm facilities opening again.”