Converting the former Johnstone Police Station into a health and wellbeing hub is one of the first projects applying for support from a new community fund being considered next week.

The £1.5million Community Empowerment fund, announced in March, is open to all community groups who want to take over ownership and running of a building or piece or land in their local area.

“We know there are so many people in our communities with innovative and imaginative ideas and we are excited to hear from them,” said Councillor Marie McGurk, Communities Housing and Planning Policy Board convener.

“This fund is open to all community groups and we want to hear from a diverse range of community voices, from those we have worked with previously to new groups who may be nurturing an idea and need help and support to get it off the ground.”

Councillors will examine the first round of applications at the Communities Housing and Planning Policy Board on Tuesday 21 August 2018.

Funding support can be put towards development of the business plan behind the idea or investment in the facilities to prepare them for community ownership.

Four applications were received for the first round of funding and have been assessed against the fund’s objectives including demonstrating the positive impact on local communities and involving the local community in the design and delivery of each project.

Councillors will next week be asked to consider accepting an application from local charity Active Communities, providing £10,000 funding for a feasibility study and development of the business case towards taking ownership of and transforming the former Johnstone Police Station into a community health hub.

The hub would also provide accommodation for KAIROS (Kind, Accepting, Inspiring, Renfrewshire’s Open Space), a new initiative supported by The Robertson Trust. Led by 15 local women, KAIROS offers free activities and support to Renfrewshire women, with a focus on tackling the social challenges they may face.

Plans for a cinema, arts venue and theatre at the former Arnott’s site being developed by Paisley Community Trust could also be boosted by £10,000 to progress its business case.

West End Growing Grounds Association are recommended to receive £20,000 towards relocation of raised beds and polytunnels to Underwood Road, while further assessment and development continue over a planned community garden project for Carbrook Street.

Linwood Community Development Trust received one of Renfrewshire’s largest ever land asset transfers and their plans to upgrade the Janitor’s House at the former Clippens School into a nursery are also recommended for further assessment and development.

Councillor McGurk added: “It is clear from the quality of initial applications that there are passionate people across Renfrewshire keen to lead on ambitious projects of real benefit to their communities and our fund is there to support these groups and realise their innovative ideas.

“We will consider every application in full and work closely with applicants towards achieving their goals. I would encourage all community groups to get in touch with us and find out more about all the available support on offer.

“This fund is one of a series of key investments in our communities, and we also be rolling out additional funds for our villages and for green spaces later this year.

“It is all part of our commitment to give communities a greater say and control than ever before over local decision making, empowering them to shape the future success of their towns and villages.”

The next deadline for Community Empowerment Fund applications is Friday 14 September.

To find out more, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/CommunityEmpowermentFund, call 0141 618 7408 or email communityplanning@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

Local businesses and homes across Renfrewshire can benefit from faster internet connections through the UK Government Local Full Fibre Network Challenge Fund.

Small businesses and the local communities surrounding them can apply for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, providing a one-off contribution to subsidise the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection.

Quicker file downloads and improved videoconferencing are just two of the benefits of a full fibre gigabit connection.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project, while residents can benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth £500 as part of a group project.

Find out more at: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

The voucher scheme complements a range of investments in Renfrewshire to provide the best available internet connections.

Key public buildings, including schools, will benefit from a £2million investment towards an ultrafast fibre network confirmed in the 2018 Council budget, with further funding being targeted from the UK Government’s Challenge Fund.

Renfrewshire will also benefit from the Scottish Government £600million digital infrastructure investment across Scotland.

And free public wifi is now live in Johnstone and Renfrew and coming soon to Paisley, making these town centres more attractive places to visit and driving footfall to local businesses.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We live in an increasingly connected world where people rely on fast and reliable internet access. That’s why we are investing in our digital infrastructure, recognising the benefits this brings for residents, visitors and of course our business community, in turn boosting the local economy.”

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Renfrewshire Employability Awards celebrating the successes of people supported through Renfrewshire’s Local Employability Partnership programmes.

RDC Invest awards 6.9.17 Celebrating Success
Renfrewshire Employability Awards
6.9.17
Paisley Town Hall

It is the fifth year of the popular awards organised on behalf of the partnership by Renfrewshire Council’s economic development service Invest in Renfrewshire.

Invest work closely with more than 1000 local businesses to support Renfrewshire residents from its base at Paisley’s Russell Institute building.

Together, the programme provides direct access to vacancies, work experience, training, personal support and finance.

There are nine awards across a range of categories including Most Promising New Entrepreneur and Apprentice of the Year. The awards also recognise school pupils and people building their CV through volunteering as they prepare for the world of work.

Last year’s glittering celebrations recognised top intern Debbie Campbell, whose work with award-winning community charity I Am Me Scotland raised awareness of disability hate crime.

Johnstone High School pupil Morgan Spence won the Youth CV builder award, the Kilbarchan teenager’s stop-motion film-making skills being viewed more than a million times online.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The Renfrewshire Employability Awards are always an excellent event, recognising new employees making a real difference to local businesses and celebrating the successes of those who transform their lives and future careers through involvement in Renfrewshire’s employability programmes. I would encourage people to submit their nominations as soon as possible.

“Invest in Renfrewshire organises these awards on behalf of the Local Employability Partnership in recognition of Renfrewshire’s success in this area and the hard work and effort put in by our local people.

“The Invest team themselves have built strong partnerships with the local business community and together are creating work and training opportunities for more than 1400 people each year. This is hugely important, reducing unemployment and enabling our local economy to grow.”

Deadline for nominations is Friday 14 September 2018 with the awards ceremony taking place at Paisley Town Hall in November.

The ever-popular event is also an opportunity to thank local businesses for their contributions which has helped the Renfrewshire economy grow significantly in recent years.

“In June we set out a five-year commitment to help the people most in need into work,” added Councillor Nicolson. “We will help communities facing deprivation and those unemployed and underemployed, changing people’s opportunities and making the most of the major areas of growth coming to Renfrewshire in areas such as childcare, tourism and manufacturing.

“These annual awards are a great way to celebrate the successes and acknowledge the many partners playing their part in creating a thriving Renfrewshire, open for business.”

For full details of the awards and to make a nomination, visit: www.investinrenfrewshire.com/awards-2018/

Primary One pupils at a Renfrewshire school are learning how to read and write from aptly named teachers – Mrs Reid and Mrs Wright.

Ms Reid and Wright at Brediland Primary School Renfrewshire 15.8.18

As Brediland Primary School in Paisley welcomes its latest intake, the teachers admit that their pairing has raised a chuckle among colleagues.

Maureen Reid, 48, who’s taught at the school for 14 years, said: “Neither of us actually realised at first, it was a colleague who made the connection and he certainly found it very funny.

“I don’t think the younger children will make the connection but I’m sure the older children and parents will.

“We will work very closely together with lots of interaction between the two classes so I’m sure there will be lots of comments.”

Her fellow teacher, Audrey Wright, 40, said: “I’ve been at the school for eight years and this is my first year teaching primary one. I’m really looking forward to it. I think our names will raise a smile from the parents.”

Depute Head Teacher Lisa Robertson said: “The new Primary One children that we welcome to Brediland this session have had a head start.  What better way to begin to learn at school than with a teacher called Mrs Reid and a teacher called Mrs Wright?

“Surely only good things can come from this.”

Schools across Renfrewshire are recording improvements in pupil’s reading, writing and numeracy skills thanks to the innovative projects introduced as part of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge.

One pioneering project between Renfrewshire Council and the University of Strathclyde has led to an improvement in children’s literacy attainment regardless of their background.

The Renfrewshire Literacy Approach, funded by the local authority and the Scottish Government, is a teacher and leadership training programme designed to enhance knowledge and skills in the teaching of reading.

There have been improvements made in pupils’ reading age scores across primary three to seven, while further analysis also indicates that the teaching programme may have had the greatest positive impact on children living in the most deprived areas.

It also shows a positive increase in pupil attainment at all stages, particularly for those children who have previously struggled with aspects of learning to read.

Thousands of people turned out in Johnstone on Saturday to see fire engines, past and present, showcased in the town centre.

The day kicked off with emergency vehicles from across the years parading from Johnstone Fire Station into Houston Square, where they remained for the afternoon, giving everyone the chance to climb on board and learn how firefighting has advanced through the years.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service undertook several demonstrations throughout the day, showing people what the impact can be when a chip pan bursts in to flames.

The event was hosted by Renfrewshire Council in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Heritage Trust.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “The Fire Engine Rally is always a highlight of our events calendar and a firm favourite for the people of Johnstone.

“Events like this really benefit the local communities as they bring visitors in to the town and increase footfall to local traders.

Renfrewshire’s packed events schedule continues for the rest of the year, so make sure you check out what’s coming up next!”

For upcoming events in Renfrewshire visit www.paisley.is or www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events.

SHOPPERS must have thought they had walked through the doors of the intu Braehead mall on Saturday and landed in a galaxy far, far away.

They were met with the sight of characters from all kinds of films, TV shows and comics having a look round the shops.

Thousands of sci-fi fans turned out for the Film and Comic Con event being held in The Arena at intu Braehead.

Many fans were dressed in the costumes of their favourite sci-fi characters and they certainly caught the attention of shoppers in and around the malls.

They also flocked to hundreds of stalls set up in The Arena to snap up movie memorabilia and sought-after rare comics.

The event continues tomorrow (Sunday) when even more fans are expected to come along.

Marketing manager for intu Braehead, David Lyon said: “Where else but intu Braehead would Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Spiderman and Superman come for a weekend’s shopping when they visit planet Earth?

“This Film and Comic Con is one of the most eye-catching events we have at intu Braehead and we look forward to it every year.

“Shoppers just love to see the fans dressed in their amazing costumes and you just never know who you’re going to bump into!”

Hundreds of children across Renfrewshire have enjoyed a summer of fun attending Families First holiday clubs.

Families First Johnstone Campus
L-R Hayley McGuire, Newlyn Harris and Kai Lynch

Running at 10 school venues, children have taken part in sporting activities and arts and crafts, as well as being served a healthy, nutritious lunch.

Around 6,000 two course hot meals have been served over the six week programme.

Families First Johnstone Campus
Miaya Docherty

Pupils from primary one to primary four who are in receipt of a school clothing grant were invited to attend the free camp, while older siblings in primary five to seven at the same school were also welcomed when accompanied by their brother or sister.

Families First Johnstone Campus

Children enjoyed the three hour daily clubs the West Johnstone shared campus, St James, St Fergus, Gallowhill, Heriot, Langcraigs and Todholm Primary Schools and Paisley Grammar, Linwood and Castlehead High Schools.

The mobile library service, the Skoobmobile was also part of the programme, with four of the venues hosting a weekly visit to encourage children to sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge, while the remaining six venues enjoyed at least one visit.

Families First Johnstone Campus

The clubs ensure that as many kids as possible get physical activity and have a tasty and nutritious meal every day, as well as encouraging them to try a wider range of foods than they may not otherwise eat. They can also provide valuable social interaction for children.

Education and Children’s Services convener, Cllr Jim Paterson said: “It’s great to have had so many children coming along to socialise with their peers and enjoy sporting activities which can help them stay healthy and active.

“By providing free school meals outside of term time we can also take some of the pressure off the family food budget and ensure that all children can get a nutritious meal.

“We are committed to ensuring that every child in Renfrewshire is given the best chance in life to reach their full potential and supporting families is essential to raising attainment for all and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.”

The Families First holiday clubs started in 2013 and run across most school holidays.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has met with a local energy efficiency agency to find out more about the latest work they’re doing to help people in Renfrewshire who are living in fuel poverty.

Local Energy Action Plan (LEAP) operate across Renfrewshire and offer a range of services to local people to help them reduce their energy use and also to help lift them out of fuel poverty.

The Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North also spoke to them about the hundreds of households in the constituency who were mis-sold energy efficiency measures by the discredited HELMS.

HELMS have now gone into liquidation. They were an approved Green Deal installer, with the Green Deal programme being the flagship policy of the UK Government.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“It was great to catch up with Scott from LEAP today to find out more about their latest work across Renfrewshire to help households reduce their energy use.

“LEAP plays an important role in helping to lift people out of fuel poverty, and they’re one of the reasons why the fuel poverty rating in Renfrewshire is lower than the national average.

“I also appreciated speaking to LEAP about HELMS’ mis-selling, this is an issue which I have been working on over the past couple of months. Hundreds of people from across Renfrewshire have been thrown into debt due to the scandalous behaviour of HELMS. HELMS may now be out of business, but they were an accredited Green Deal company, and as such, the UK Government has a responsibility for helping those in Renfrewshire who were exploited by this discredited company.

“However, in the meantime, LEAP can offer a range of excellent energy advice to households across Renfrewshire. They have a solid track record of being able to help people and I would encourage all local constituents to get in touch with them to find out how you can reduce your energy use and help save on your fuel bills.

Scott Duncan, Project Manager from LEAP, said:

“It was great to be able to catch-up with Gavin Newlands MP to highlight the important work that we’re doing in the area. Our staff and volunteers work hard to help lift people out of fuel poverty and to assist households to minimise their energy use. We work in a number of the towns and villages in Renfrewshire and happy to provide a range of energy advice to local households.”

As exam results were released across Scotland, Renfrewshire school pupils who attended a leadership programme have revealed how the skills they gained helped them achieve success.

Pupils from Linwood High School who attended an ‘Aspiration Course’ at the Outdoor Education Centre on the isle of Arran returned with an increased sense of self belief and improved problem-solving skills according to head teacher, Gillian Macartney.

One student even found the trip so motivating that it gave her the confidence to put herself forward to become the school’s Head Girl.

Hannah Sloan, who gained four Highers in English, Music, Biology and Chemistry, said: “I am really pleased with my exam results, especially in English where I’ve always lacked confidence and was full of self-doubt.

“Being on the course really helped with that and actually sitting in the exam hall this year I felt much more confident and knew I had the knowledge and skills to achieve what I did.”

The 17-year-old added: “It also gave me the confidence to apply and become Head Girl in S6.”

Fellow pupil Beth Compston, 15, said: “I got six National 5s this year and I’m proud of myself.  I learned how to be far more positive when I was in Arran and deal with things better. I definitely think it helped me to go to my exams believing that if I try my best and work hard, I can do well.”

The trip was funded by the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge and 24 senior pupils were helped to develop their leadership skills and build resilience through a mix of classroom and outdoor tasks.

The course also aims to enable young adults to realise their own potential as well as raising attainment.

The head teacher said: “There’s a massive legacy from their time on Arran which can be seen in the school.

“Since we came back I’ve heard a number of pupils saying the course has actually changed their whole outlook.  Many of those who were on the course are the ones now vying for leadership roles within the school.

“If they were tackling something tricky in class they would now think about how they could achieve it.”

The young people, who were a mixture of fourth and fifth year pupils aged from 14-16, initially worked on ‘ice breaker’ tasks. They also worked in teams on problem solving tasks.

Many of the activities at the centre are designed to reinforce a positive mindset, with outdoor activities including an orienteering challenge, building tasks including a rope maze and paddling a canoe while blindfolded.

Another task during the trip last November was moving their team by using only oil drums and planks of wood on land they were told to believe was mine infested.

Gillian Macartney added: “Some got frustrated and some wanted to give up, but you’d be letting your team down so there was that element of responsibility.

“It’s about having the self-belief and the ability to work with others to problem solve and to ensure they are setting themselves aspirational goals.

“Many found the abseiling task the most challenging but some were so chuffed when they got the bottom they burst into tears at achieving something they thought they could never do.

“I’m very proud of them all and it was great to see how the experience helped spur them onto achieving their full potential with this week’s exam results.”

Renfrewshire is one of the nine Scottish Government Attainment Challenge authorities to share a £750m national pot for projects designed to help improve the results of pupils from less-affluent backgrounds.

Since becoming a challenge authority in June 2016, data gathered indicates that the gap between the most and least deprived pupils has been reducing in listening, talking, reading and writing, and numeracy measurements.

Johnstone Fire Engine Rally is set to attract huge crowds in the town centre when it returns on Saturday 11 August.

fire engine rally at jonstone12.8.17

Fire engines from throughout the years will parade from Johnstone Fire Station at 11am into the town centre, ending in Houston Square where there will be a host of activities on offer for all the family until 4pm.

The event is being hosted by Renfrewshire Council in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Heritage Trust.

Fire engine rally at johnstone 12.8.17

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will undertake a variety of dramatic demonstrations to give an insight to how they respond to emergencies.

fire engine rally at jonstone12.8.17

Visitors to the event will also benefit from free internet access, with free public wifi rolled out in Johnstone’s town centre earlier this year.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron will be in attendance and will welcome all to the event.

Provost Cameron said: “The Fire Engine Rally is a family favourite in Johnstone and I can’t wait to take part again this year.

Fire engine rally at johnstone 12.8.17

“The fire engine parade is always a spectacular sight and I’m looking forward to seeing the wide range of historic vehicles as they drive through the town.

“This event provides a fantastic opportunity to see how far technology has advanced in the past few decades, as well as having an educational purpose with the safety demonstrations from The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“It’s an enjoyable day out for all the family and I’d encourage everyone to come down and get involved.”

For further information visit www.paisley.is