Johnstone 8.12.20-6758

Landmark locations at the heart of Renfrew and Johnstone town centres are being lit up – as part of a collection of projects aimed at bringing new life to Renfrewshire’s town centres.

The projects have been delivered by Renfrewshire Council using the area’s share of the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund, intended to improve town centres across the country by encouraging new investment and uses for vacant buildings and spaces.

Johnstone 8.12.20-6758

Renfrewshire initially received £1.46m from the fund in 2019, for which a series of projects in Renfrew, Johnstone, Paisley and Erskine were put into action, with some now complete.

A further £527,000 was allocated earlier this year when the government added extra money to the fund to help town centres bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

bascule1

Projects which have already been delivered or are nearing completion include:

– new and improved lighting around Renfrew Town Hall and Johnstone’s Houstoun Square. The same fund also paid for new Christmas lights in Johnstone, with the additions to Renfrew Town Hall complementing recent investment in the town’s festive displays through the Renfrew Common Good Fund;

– new lighting added to Renfrew’s Bascule Bridge, with work to add new lighting, wayfinding and CCTV to Robertson Park now partly-complete and due to be finished in the spring;

– work to tidy up the gap site at the corner of Johnstone’s High St and McDowall St;

– refurbishments to vacant shop units at George Street, Paisley, and High Street and McDowall St in Johnstone, plus external improvements to vacant shop units at Renfrew’s Dunlop Crescent;

– a new storage area for commercial waste at 55 High St, Paisley;

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The fund is also being used to provide grants to three local community groups to support ongoing work to bring vacant buildings back into use. Each of the following projects is expected to be complete by the end of 2021:

– PACE Theatre’s plans to refurbish Paisley’s former Mannequins nightclub to create a new theatre, called Exchange;

– Active Communities ongoing work to bring the former police station in Johnstone’s Quarry Street back into use as a community hub;

– the conversion of the former toilet block in Renfrew’s Robertson Park into a cycle hub by Kustom Kruisers;

Bascule Bridge - Purple

The council’s leadership board this month also approved a list of additional projects for the second tranche of money to go on, which included:

– a grant to allow the Erskine Arts charity to set up a base within Erskine Leisure Centre;

– funding to extend the council’s Start-up Street hub for new creative businesses to Renfrew as a new use for the vacant units in Dunlop Crescent;

– outdoor improvements to Paisley’s Shuttle St to help support the hospitality businesses in the street, including new a canopy of lighting and a new bin store area

– additional funding for an already-planned refurbishment of upper-floor tenements at 3 County Place, Paisley – a prominent building facing Gilmour St station which has fallen into disrepair;

Robertson Park II December 2020

As the additional money needs to be committed by March 2021, the projects above were chosen as ones which had already been scoped out and could go on site in the next few months.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “Ensuring our town centres are attractive places for people to live, work and invest is a big priority for the council.

“We are very mindful how hard the past year has been for town centres everywhere – we are determined to do all we can to support our traders and communities and this support from the Scottish Government is very welcome.

“We carefully considered which projects would be eligible for the funding and would have the most impact in terms of attracting new uses and investment across all our town centres.

Robertson Park December 2020

“The work has been happening since last year and we are delighted people are now starting to see the results of it – with the new lighting in Renfrew and Johnstone being the most eye-catching of the projects, and ones which have been well-received.

“And there will be plenty more for people to look forward to in 2021 as projects to bring vacant buildings back into use and improve the look of our outdoor spaces are completed.”

provost community awards

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron is searching for community heroes across Renfrewshire as nominations for the Provost’s Community Awards open for 2021. 

provost community awards

This year there are seven categories to nominate in, including a new category to recognise businesses who have adapted to ensure their survival during the Covid19 pandemic. You can nominate anyone who lives or works in Renfrewshire for the following categories:

  • Community Volunteer (sponsored by Glasgow Airport Ltd)
  • Community Group (sponsored by City Gate Construction)
  • Sporting Achievement (sponsored by ACRE Industrial)
  • Employee of the Year (sponsored by UNISON Renfrewshire)
  • Carers Award (sponsored by former Provost Nancy Allison)
  • Arts and Culture Award (sponsored by Renfrewshire Council)
  • Ingenuity in Business (sponsored by Provost Lorraine Cameron)

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron said: “This year has been unlike any other and it’s important that we pay tribute to the local unsung heroes who keep our communities going.

“We have recently heard of the sad death of former Provost Nancy Allison, who established the very first awards in 1997, and I know, for certain, that Nancy would have been very happy that I have decided to go ahead this year, despite the pandemic.  She knew how important it was to recognise the big hearted people who support their communities and that is why we continue with these awards year after year.

“Earlier this year I awarded certificates to those who I know have gone the extra mile throughout the pandemic, but these awards are different – they come from the community themselves. Now it is your chance to tell me about the hard work that these groups and individuals do.

“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to have an event this year to celebrate these achievements, but we will make sure the winners are announced online and through other media channels. I know there are some fantastic people out there who really deserve to be recognised and I can’t wait to read your nominations.”

The deadline for entries to all categories is Friday 29 January 2021.

For more information, and to submit your nomination, visit http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/provostawards2021, or email provostawards@renfrewshire.gov.uk

Renfrewshire

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our health, our wellbeing, our communities and our economy, but I am confident that by working together, Renfrewshire will recover and renew to come back stronger.”

That’s according to Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson, as he welcomes plans for Renfrewshire’s economic and social recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Renfrewshire

Councillors will consider the ambitious plans next week which aim to create jobs and upskill employees, bolster business, invest in housing, tackle inequalities and improve the lives of people living and working in Renfrewshire.

Stark statistics within the reports lay bare the impact of the pandemic in Renfrewshire, with 293 local people having lost their lives.

The number of people claiming benefits rose by 80% at the height of the virus, while 6,000 crisis grant applications have been received, thousands have been supported through neighbourhood hubs and local community groups and Renfrewshire Foodbank has helped more than 4,000 adults and children.

Furlough support for Renfrewshire employees is estimated to equate to £115million and self-income support to almost £10million.

 

Cllr Iain Nicolson

Councillor Nicolson said: “The pandemic has impacted on all parts of daily life and in some cases exacerbated existing vulnerabilities or created new difficulties. Many people and businesses have been impacted, through bereavement, loss of income, isolation and loneliness.

“Since the outset, Council staff have been working tirelessly together with community groups and local volunteers as well as with national agencies to support people during these unprecedented times, and the collective response has been phenomenal.

“This work continues and while the true impact of the pandemic will take time to fully emerge, we have been carrying out detailed research and together with community groups, local businesses and economic leaders, we have been preparing our plans for recovery and renewal.”

The two-year economic recovery plan has been prepared with, and approved by, Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel, which pools business expertise from major local employers and skills and enterprise agencies.

It is underpinned by economic analysis by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute and by a summer survey of 500 local companies, with further data being collected next spring following the end of the furlough scheme and the Brexit transition period.

Detailing 14 priority actions the panel believe will make the biggest difference locally, the report focuses on support for business, young people, wellbeing, skills and employability, fostering a green recovery and on capital investment.

Councillor Nicolson added: “The building blocks of Renfrewshire’s economy have been consistently strong for some time and there are significant opportunities for growth after the pandemic with a strong business base, excellent educational facilities and £500million in capital investment well under way.

Lovell Cocstruction, social housing, Bishopton

Lovell Cocstruction, social housing, Bishopton

“We will build on this by creating jobs and training opportunities for our young people, including 150 new apprenticeships, with targeted projects to tackle unemployment and reduce health inequalities, and measures to bolster the skills and innovation of our significant manufacturing sector. To achieve this plan, all partner agencies will have a key role to play and by combining our knowledge and expertise, we can achieve so much more.”

Tackling inequalities is at the heart of the developing social renewal plan for Renfrewshire, which is being prepared through a public survey of 1,500 people combined with ‘listening events’ with community groups during winter 2020, to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 and involve local people in identifying solutions to the issues they face.

Council Depute Leader Jim Paterson said: “Local people and communities continue to experience significant impacts on their lives resulting from the pandemic and sadly the initial findings suggest it is most affecting people on low incomes and in insecure employment, in particular women and young people.

“The social renewal plan will act as the blueprint for how we will work with our partners to learn from the pandemic and build on this experience to tackle the inequalities that exist in our communities.”

Councillors will also be asked to approve plans for at least £100million of additional investment over the next 10 years in Council housing across Renfrewshire, with the first phase targeting investment to eight areas across Johnstone, Paisley and Renfrew.

Communities, Housing and Planning Convener Councillor Marie McGurk said: “Coronavirus has underlined the importance of our home on our wellbeing and the need to live within a supportive community environment.

“This planned investment will provide a step-change in housing conditions for Council tenants by enhancing properties inside and out, making them more energy efficient and creating safe, welcoming neighbourhoods.

“At each location, we will develop comprehensive regeneration place plans, engaging with tenants and the wider community to create places to be proud of through a mix of improvements and new homes, this approach will continue the recent investment by the council and housing associations which will see more than 1,000 affordable homes completed by 2022.”

mental health support

A first-of-its-kind commission has revealed the devastating impact harmful alcohol and drug use has on people’s lives, and its findings have been brought into even sharper focus as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

In its findings published today, the Renfrewshire Alcohol and Drugs Commission is the first to look at the issues for both alcohol and drugs and saw and heard first-hand evidence from more than 300 people and organisations who had their own personal or professional experience of alcohol and drug use.

mental health support

Renfrewshire has some of the highest levels of harm caused by alcohol and drug use in Scotland

  • alcohol hospital admissions – 808 per 100,000 (2018/19)
  • drug hospital admissions – 210 per 100,000 (2018/19)
  • 50 alcohol deaths in 2019
  • 50 drug deaths in 2019
  • Parental drug use involved in 38 of 70 child protection cases (October 2020).

The report highlights that people’s complex mental health needs mean they often struggled to find someone to talk to and get the right support they need, especially for young people. Long waits for mental health services, people having to turn to emergency services in a crisis and the significant trauma people have experienced were all seen as significant barriers.

While many people already access the different services available in Renfrewshire, the Commission found that there were people experiencing significant harm who should be in touch with treatment services but weren’t – known as hidden harm – and those who are in contact said they really need services to wrap around them and their families.

Further support is also needed to further tackle young people using alcohol and drugs at a young age through mental health initiatives, education, such as Personal and Social Education lessons, and adolescent-focused alcohol and drug recovery services.

In response, Renfrewshire councillors will next week consider the first set of funding proposals from a £2million package of investment from the Council to tackle some of the challenges raised.

The commission began in 2019 and brought in a range of highly respected health, social care, justice, third sector and community experts. The coronavirus pandemic led to the Commission extending its research to consider how this might further impact their findings.

Findings include:

  • the pandemic has exacerbated existing issues like loneliness and isolation, often key drivers for alcohol and drug use, and highlights the importance of feeling part of the community to supporting recovery
  • support for mental health issues is perceived as being difficult to access or not there at all, with particular concern noted for the impact of poor mental health on children and young people
  • the availability and presence of alcohol and drugs and how easy it is to get them was an issue across all ages
  • urgent work is needed to help people access mental health resources as well as enabling community and voluntary groups to provide much-needed outreach work to link people with existing services.

Alan McNiven, Chief Executive of Engage Renfrewshire, said that the commission focused on real lived experience of people affected by alcohol and drugs and that partnership working will enable Renfrewshire to offer the much-needed community and peer support for both prevention and recovery.

Alan said: “I was keen to be involved as I knew the commission would be connecting with existing strategies active in Renfrewshire around education, poverty, culture, employment – all areas of work that Renfrewshire’s Third Sector Network has connections and commitments to. The work of the commission adds to Renfrewshire’s partnership approach – an approach that seeks to achieve the best possible outcomes for Renfrewshire as a whole, as well as for individuals who require our care and support.

“The engagement sessions ensured we heard from the wider community – service users, young people, and third sector delivery organisations. It was vitally important that the voices of people with lived experience and those who work in alcohol and drug services influenced the commission’s enquiry and the final recommendations.

“Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of the community planning approach in Renfrewshire. Strong cross-sector and multi-agency partnerships already exist here, but we need more. The commission identified Renfrewshire’s third sector agencies as providing important services around the alcohol and drugs agenda. The Third Sector also brings important experience to the collective leadership approach that will be required to properly deliver the proposed recommendations.”

Following the publication of the report, Renfrewshire Council has pledged £2million funding to target the Commission’s recommendations, with an initial package of measures being considered by councillors at a meeting next week.

Funding proposals will include:

  • £510k for mental health programmes – seen as key drivers for both prevention and recovery – including funding for an intensive support pilot for children and young people, a crisis mental health service for the community and for a quicker service-lead response to people affected by trauma.
  • £550k for an outreach, community-centred model for people not engaged in alcohol and drug services, peer-to-peer support and a Recovery Change Fund for community and voluntary sector organisations to access.
  • £150k for education and health improvement as well as a further study to better understand the hidden harm of alcohol and drugs – people who haven’t reached out for help.

Chair of the Renfrewshire Alcohol and Drugs Commission and Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership Integrated Joint Board, Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on people struggling with alcohol and drug use and we know isolation has made it worse for many people and their families across Renfrewshire. What has been made very clear is the amount of hidden suffering that so many people suffer, unable to reach out and access support and sometimes not feeling part of a community that can support them.

“We hope this will fundamentally transform the support that people who use drugs and alcohol and their families can access when they need it most. The pandemic has brought these issues into sharp focus and we are determined to make a difference. Our new approach will make it easier for people to access the support within their own community and be there whenever they need it.”

The full report can be read on the council’s website – www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/Alcohol-Drugs-Commission.

Social Customer Service

Day 9 – Social Customer Service (NSDesign)

Social Customer Service
Dec 11, 1.30 pm – 3.30 pm

A fun, and engaging workshop discussing what ‘great social service’ looks like in today’s connected world. We’ll look at examples from a variety of companies and ask if we really deliver quality customer service, or do we focus on the numbers. Do we look for opportunities to wow customers across our social channels or do we just react to complaints.

Linkedin

Day 8 – Making LinkedIn work for your business (With Gordon White from fatBuzz)

Linkedin
Dec 10, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Join Gordon from fatBuzz looking at what you need to do to optimise your Business Page and how to tap into the power of LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Advertising.

Provost's Community Awards 2021

Analytics

Day 7 – How to use Analytics to grow your business online (Brian Tait from Aillum)

Analytics
Dec 9, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Join Brian Tait at Aillum for an insight into some of the tools and data available to you now, free, that can help you start monitoring, refining and improving your digital marketing activities! Includes tips on Google Analytics, Keywords / Content, Heat Mapping, Site speed and more!

Christmas celebrations may look a little bit different this year – but people in Renfrewshire are being invited to come together and spread some festive cheer from the comfort of home with a special online event this weekend.

The Light Up Renfrewshire event will take place on Saturday 12 December at 7pm and will be available to view online on the Paisley.is Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/paisleyis

With everyone doing their best to stay at home as much as they can right now, the magical online event will showcase spectacular footage of the Christmas lights on display across Renfrewshire’s towns and villages for viewers to enjoy.

The stunning light displays will be accompanied by music performances from top local acts, festive messages from some special Christmas guests and much more.

Organised by Brick Lane Media and Renfrewshire Council, the Light Up Renfrewshire event will be held online to ensure that Christmas celebrations in the area can still take place this year, in adherence with national guidance and local coronavirus restrictions.

Renfrewshire’s Provost, Lorraine Cameron, said: “It barely feels like a year ago that we were gathered in our towns and villages to switch on the Christmas lights in 2019. While this year has been unlike any we could have anticipated, I am delighted that we can still get together virtually to mark the festive season with this fantastic online event.

“Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, and it is important that we remember to be kind to each other and help to spread some festive cheer where we can.

“That’s why I am encouraging everyone to join me by logging on for Saturday’s Light Up Renfrewshire event and getting in the festive spirit with amazing musical performances and heart-warming messages – as well as the chance to see our stunning Christmas lights on full display.

“It’s also a great opportunity to extend a special thank you to all NHS staff and key workers across Renfrewshire for their hard work and energy that has gone in to keeping us all safe this year and over the festive period.”

Alan McEwan, director of Brick Lane Media, said: “Brick Lane Media and The Bungalow Community Interest Company are delighted to be involved with the Light Up Renfrewshire online event. It has given local entertainers the chance to showcase their work during these times and, at the same time, offer everyone in the community the opportunity to see the Christmas lights installations across every town and village in Renfrewshire.

“It has been fantastic to see how everyone involved has adapted in their settings – in schools, businesses and the entertainment industry. The use of digital technology has helped everyone to continue life as normally as possible, letting everyone see what is happening in their communities. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2021.”

Residents are also being encouraged to get involved and spread some festive cheer by sharing pictures of their Christmas lights and household decorations on social media by using the hashtag #LightUpRenfrewshire.

As well as the online event on Saturday 12 December, there will be plenty of opportunities for families to enjoy festive fun in the run-up to Christmas with online activities, including arts and craft ideas, videos, blogs and more.

In addition, children and families will be able to enjoy festive fun while exploring their town centre safely with Christmas Spirit Trails in Johnstone and Renfrew, which will run from Saturday 12 December until Sunday 3 January. People are reminded to follow the national guidance for travel purposes.

By using your phone camera, families can hunt down and scan ten special Christmas characters, which will be on display in shop windows around the town centre, before accessing an eBook to learn more about the characters’ adventures.

There’s also plenty of activity to enjoy during the festive season with local business improvement district Paisley First, including the Christmas Buddie Bear Hunt around businesses in Paisley town centre and online Advent Calendar competition.

For more information on the Light Up Renfrewshire online event and more ways to enjoy Christmas at home, please visit https://paisley.is/discover/christmas-at-home/

Services to resume after Scottish Government confirms that region’s coronavirus measures will ease. Safety remains the charity’s priority.

Victoria Hollows, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Leisure

Venues operated by Renfrewshire Leisure will reopen from Saturday (December 12th) after the Scottish Government confirmed that the region will return to Tier 3 of Covid-19 restrictions.

Leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and the heritage centre run by the charity have been closed for the past three weeks as tighter measures were imposed throughout Greater Glasgow to reduce the rate of coronavirus in the community.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today that those Tier 4 restrictions will be lifted at 6pm on Friday, as planned, with Renfrewshire rolling back to Tier 3 from 6pm on Friday.

Affected leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools and libraries will reopen – in line with all Scottish Government guidelines – from Saturday. Specific arrangements for the library at Johnstone Town Hall will be confirmed following completion of the site’s use as an assessment centre for Covid-19. Renfrewshire Heritage Centre will reopen on Monday. Full details can be found at www.renfrewshireleisure.com.

Tier 3 guidelines mean that indoor fitness classes and outdoor contact sports for over-18s cannot yet resume. Activities for under-18s will take place within permitted advice. Updated guidance from sportscotland will be closely monitored for any updates to current arrangements.

Staff will, however, immediately restart the popular programme of outdoor fitnesses classes. Members and customers who normally attend indoor classes continue to be encouraged and supported to try gym or swimming sessions, as well as joining their regular routines via classes posted on the Renfrewshire Leisure website.

The click and collect service operated at all of Renfrewshire’s libraries will also recommence.

Renfrewshire Leisure Chief Executive Victoria Hollows said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming our members and customers back to our venues and supporting them in any way we can. As ever, the safety of our staff and visitors is our utmost priority and we are asking everyone to follow the hygiene and social distancing measures we have in place.

“The team here has done a tremendous job over the past few weeks with a great programme of online content, but I know that people are looking forward to being able to enjoy in-person activities again, wherever we are able to offer them.

“Our outdoor and online fitness classes have proved particularly popular while we are unable to offer indoor sessions, and our gym and pool staff are on-hand to help anyone who would like to take part in activities there which they might not normally have the chance to try.”

Members’ direct debit payments for December have not been collected in light of the disruption to on-site services as a result of the Tier 4 restrictions. They will resume in January.

A revised festive opening programme for Renfrewshire Leisure’s venues will be in place from December 24th until January 3rd (inclusive). Services will operate at Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley and ON-X, Linwood, between Christmas and New Year in line with usual festive arrangements. Full opening and programme details can be found online.