A woman who gave her mother a second chance at life by donating her kidney has spoken of the importance of people within black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities discussing organ donation ahead of World Kidney Day (12 March 2020).


Syma Shahzad, 40, who donated to mum Anees Haq in 2008, shared how she was challenged about her decision due to conflicting beliefs and knowledge within her community, and encouraged people to think about what they would want to happen and discuss it with family.

Syma, who works as a pharmacist in Glasgow, added her support to the awareness drive ahead of World Kidney Day (12 March 2020), as statistics show the proportion of patients from minority ethnic communities in Scotland on transplant waiting lists has gradually increased over the past two years.

In March 2020, 10.5 per cent of those on the active waiting lists for a transplant from a deceased donor were recorded as being from a minority ethnic group, compared to 9.2 per cent in March 2018.

Statistics show that in the last five years, around half as many families of minority ethnic eligible donors supported organ donation after their loved one’s death, compared with the families of white eligible donors.

People from black and Asian communities are more likely to develop conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis than white people, which increases the likelihood of them needing a transplant1.

A kidney transplant is more successful if the donor and recipient share the same ethnicity.

Worried about the impact of dialysis on her mother’s life after she was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2007, Syma raised the possibility of her donating her kidney.

A healthy person can lead a completely normal life with one kidney, and a kidney from a living donor generally offers the best outcomes for patients living with kidney failure who need a transplant.

Syma said:

“From the outset, our consultant at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary was fabulous. He helped us progress everything as quickly as possible so we could make sure the transplant went ahead before my mum had to start dialysis.  I had the first tests in March 2008, and successfully donated my kidney to her in the October of that year.”

Speaking about her faith Syma said:

“Being Muslim, there’s a lot of stigma attached to organ donation. I believe I wasn’t doing anything to put myself in danger, I was simply helping give my mother a better quality of life. For me that was the ultimate decider.

“My belief is that whatever your time is destined to be, your time will be; but whatever you can do to improve that quality of life is essential.

“Within our community, there are so many challenges around mindset and conflicting religious knowledge. I was very headstrong and wouldn’t let anyone dissuade me from doing this. With Asian people being at a higher risk of diabetes, and the associated kidney problems, I would love to see more people considering donation.

“I would encourage anyone who’s unsure about their stance on organ donation to sit down and consider what would happen if it was someone in your family who needed a transplant. Having been through it with my mother, if I could I’d do the same for anyone else in that situation.”

From Autumn 2020, the law around organ and tissue donation after death is set to change to an opt-out system.  This means that if people aged 16 and over have not recorded a decision about donation, they will be considered as a possible donor when they die, unless they are in one of the excluded groups.

Jen Lumsdaine, Lead Nurse for Living Donation Scotland said:

“Patients from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who need a kidney transplant tend to wait longer due to a shortage of donors.

“As Syma’s story illustrates, living donation can ensure a better outcome for the patient, and dramatically reduce the time a loved one has to spend on dialysis.

“Choosing to donate a kidney remains an exceptional gift, and living donation will continue to be vital part of continuing to improve transplant numbers when opt-out legislation is introduced, so more lives can be saved and transformed.”

To find out more about living donation visit

Pete Lannon and Kim Donohoe in Like Animals 6 by Mihaela Bodlovic

SUPERFAN in association with Tron Theatre presents

Like Animals

A parrot says ‘I love you’. A dolphin tries to speak. A woman spends a lifetime trying to understand.

Paisley Arts Centre on Friday 17 April.

Pete Lannon and Kim Donohoe in Like Animals 6 by Mihaela Bodlovic

Newly announced National Theatre of Scotland Company in Residence SUPERFAN set off on tour from 4 April – 1 May 2020 with Like Animals: a funny and poignant look at love and communication in human (and not so human) relationships.

Directed by Herald Angel Award winner Ellie Dubois (No Show) and inspired by true accounts of research scientists working to communicate with animals, Like Animals weaves stories of human-animal communication around an exploration into the real-life relationship of performers Kim Donohoe and Pete Lannon.

Every night, Alex the parrot and Irene the scientist bid one another farewell with ‘be good, see you tomorrow, I love you.’ As time marches on and their relationship deepens, Alex begins to use the language he has learned from Irene to manipulate her. Peter the dolphin lives in a flooded house with Margaret, who is teaching him English. Working together in a bizarre NASA-funded experiment, their relationship garners unwelcome attention in the press with headlines such as ‘The Woman who lived in sin with a dolphin’ (The Telegraph, June 2014). Delving into the research, Kim and Pete tell these stories with only a paddling pool and a couple of wetsuits.

MJ McCarthy’s delicate score and Rachel O’Neill’s surreal, contemporary design draws audiences into the joy and heartbreak of trying, and sometimes failing, to understand another being.

Like Animals has been developed in association with Tron CREATIVE through their Scratch and Tron Lab opportunities, and with support from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.

SUPERFAN is a new Scottish performance company who create performances for adult and young audiences that blend theatre, live art, circus and dance. SUPERFAN won the 2019 Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award.


“A quirky, thought-provoking two-hander” ★★★★ – The Telegraph

“Cleverly and deliberately entertaining …a production that asks chewy questions” ★★★★ – Herald Scotland

“Communication between animals may be important on a scientific level, but good communication with the ones you love is essential” ★★★★ – The Wee Review

“At a moment when we urgently need to reassess our relationship with the natural world, an exploration of human-animal connections feels timely” – Recommended Show 2019,  The Guardian

“…Original and beautifully staged” – Fest Magazine

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Our Budget 2020/21

Here’s how our budget will be invested in Renfrewshire in 2020/21.

Key facts

  • £440million budget
  • An investment package totalling £35million benefiting everyone in Renfrewshire
  • £385million five-year capital investment programme 2020/21-2024/25
  • £13.9million of planned costs reductions and savings generated to support this budget
  • A 4.64% increase on Council Tax, representing a £1.12 weekly increase to Band D households
  • Confirmed Scottish Government grant of £341.9million
  • A 2% inflationary increase in service charges
  • Commitments to maintain teacher numbers and prioritise adult services
  • £7.26million set aside for pay inflation

This budget builds on our existing long-term investments.

City Deal investment

  • £274million in Glasgow City Region City Deal projects to deliver long term inclusive economic growth
  • More than £115million in town centre regeneration to help town centres flourish
  • £47million to improve our roads and pathways
  • More than £30million investment in our schools
  • £10million to support tackling poverty and help people find work
  • £4.5million supporting villages, community projects, assets and green spaces

Now, we bring £35million of new investment into Renfrewshire to address the climate emergency, promote inclusive growth and community empowerment, protect the most vulnerable in society and invest in education and young people. 

Responding to the climate emergency

Vital action is needed for Renfrewshire to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the Council has a critical role to play in, leading, enabling and driving positive change. Team Up to Clean Up is improving the local environment and inspiring pride in our place and now we have set out new investments.

Climate Change - Renfrewshire landscape

  • £1million to establish a climate change fund, supporting the next steps of the Council’s climate emergency working group
  • Bolster improvements to our pathways, cycle network and gullies with an extra £200,000
  • £50,000 to fund a study identifying ways to improve bus transport across Renfrewshire
  • £10,000 ongoing support for Fairtrade

Supporting those most in need

We continue to provide critical long-term targeted support for the most vulnerable people in our communities and these investments enhance our long-term commitment to tackling poverty.

Supporting those most in need

  • £2million to support the crucial work of the Renfrewshire’s Alcohol and Drugs Commission, working collaboratively to looking at all aspects of addiction and improve the lives of everyone affected, with a main focus on the wellbeing and mental health of children and early intervention for adults
  • £1.8million additional funding for Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to manage increasing demands in adult social care services
  • £210,000 over the next three years to support families and children of relatives with head injuries
  • £84,000 to support Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau
  • £30,000 to further ongoing work supporting victims of domestic abuse
  • £100,000 will top up the available Discretionary Housing Payments that support people in crisis

Investing in our future

We want to give every child the best start in life and our investments underline our commitment to provide the best possible learning environments, while we continue to provide free music tuition.

Investing in our future

  • Almost doubling our school investment fund to £52million, opening the door to the Scottish Government’s £1billion school estate funding and prioritising a much- needed new Paisley Grammar School and Thorn Primary in Johnstone
  • £1.6million for further improvements to our school and early years facilities, in addition to £16million investment already underway to support the increase in early learning and childcare
  • £45,000 to enhance the successful Active Schools programme delivered by Renfrewshire Leisure which promotes school sport and encourages young people to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity
  • £500,000 towards enhanced indoor, inclusive adventure play facilities at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in a partnership project with Renfrewshire Leisure
  • £150,000 to support Rainbow Nursery in Shortroods, working with its management Childcare First to ensure its long-term sustainable future

Empowering our communities

Empowering our communities through new investments builds on established funds already enabling communities to take forward the projects and shape the places that matter most to them.

Empowering our communities

  • Community groups will benefit from a new £200,000 fund to support culture and heritage projects
  • £150,000 further funding to take the Villages Investment Fund to more than £500,000, supporting village communities to strengthen their unique identity, history and heritage
  • Additional investment of £400,000 over the next three years to the grounds of Renfrewshire cemeteries, adding to £1million already committed to improving the experience for residents visiting their loved ones
  • £150,000 towards a continued programme of tree works to ensure clear, accessible walkways at key locations
  • £50,000 to improve kitchens in community facilities

Strengthening our economy

Investment in the economy is an investment in our people and the places that make Renfrewshire a great place to live, visit and work and adds to major, multi-year projects already underway.

Strengthening our economy

  • £2.25million further investment in our town centres recognising their role as hubs for business, retail, culture and leisure, adding to £1.4million already secured through the Scottish Government Town Centre Capital Fund
  • An additional £100,000 towards the Retail Improvement Fund, enabling local businesses to enhance their appeal to shoppers with improved shop fronts
  • Making journeys safer with £250,000 towards priority road markings, building on improvements around schools and key Renfrewshire junctions and adding to the landmark £47million roads investment
Elm Drive Johnstone Castle

New build and current council housing in Renfrewshire will benefit from a £75million investment as Renfrewshire Council outlines its three-year Housing Capital Investment Plan.

Elm Drive Johnstone Castle

Elm Drive Johnstone Castle

Initially, £24million will be invested in 2020/21 to support planned investment programmes, regeneration, new build homes and retrofitting in projects throughout Renfrewshire.

Brand-new council housing will be developed in Gallowhill and Foxbar, with around 60 and 40 new homes respectively, and work is expected to start later in 2020 on a further 101 new build homes in Ferguslie Park and 39 in South West Johnstone.

This fresh investment builds on 95 new build homes in Johnstone Castle and 80 new homes in Bishopton which are nearing completion.

New build housing in Bishopton

The multi-million pound investment will also ensure all council housing stock continues to comply with the Scottish Housing Quality Standard, as well as achieving the required energy rating under the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing, through a programme of heating improvements, internal renovations and rewiring – with almost 900 properties set to be upgraded in the first year of the plan.

Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “This £75milllion investment reinforces our commitment to providing high quality, energy-efficient housing in Renfrewshire.

“We are investing in building new council housing, but also in improving in our existing tenants homes in communities across Renfrewshire and we’ll work closely with these tenants to create new build homes that meet modern day expectations and needs.

“We have committed to the continuing transformation of Renfrewshire and this multi-million pound investment will help advance the exciting regeneration plans for the region.”

The three-year investment plan was approved at a special council meeting today (9 March) and councillors also agreed to increase council housing rent by 2% following detailed consultation with tenants.

For more information on housing in Renfrewshire, visit


A budget building on long-term commitments and investing in Renfrewshire communities has been agreed by councillors today (Monday 9 March 2020).


The £440million budget includes a new fund to help tackle the climate emergency and more money for the school investment fund, almost doubling it to £52million.

There’s £2million for the crucial work of Renfrewshire’s landmark Alcohol and Drugs Commission, focusing on prevention, early intervention and the wellbeing of children impacted by addiction.

Also confirmed in the £35million investment package is £2.25million towards town centres, support for local culture and heritage projects and more money for village groups to strengthen their unique identity.

Councillors also agreed a £385million five-year capital investment programme covering a range of major projects and £75million to maintain and build new council housing over the next three years.

This new investment builds on long-term commitments well under way including more than £115million of town centre regeneration; £47million of road and pathway improvements; £10million to tackle poverty and help people find work; and £274million in Glasgow City Region City Deal infrastructure projects.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Our budget for Renfrewshire builds on existing long-term investments and signals new investment addressing the climate emergency, promoting inclusive growth and community empowerment, protecting the most vulnerable in society and investing in education and young people.

“Vital action is needed for Renfrewshire to be carbon neutral by 2030 and we recognise our role in leading, enabling and driving positive change.

“Building on our impactful tackling poverty programmes, we are helping those most in need and as well as funding to improve the lives of everyone affected by addiction, we’re providing additional social care funding and support for victims of domestic abuse.

“We are investing in our future by almost doubling the school estate fund and empowering our communities by enabling them to take forward the projects and shape the places that matter most to them. And our investment in town centres will bolster business and support inclusive growth as we make Renfrewshire a great place to live, visit, work and invest in.

“It is a budget which safeguards services and jobs and delivers a better Renfrewshire for everyone, rightly reflecting the crucial role of our communities as our partners.”

There was also £150,000 committed to support Rainbow Nursery in Shortroods, working with its management Childcare First to ensure its long-term sustainable future.

A 4.64% increase in Council Tax was confirmed, representing a £1.12 weekly increase to Band D households, and the budget is supported through generation of £13.9million of cost reductions and savings.

Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Finance, Resources and Customer Services Policy Board, Councillor John Shaw said: “The council is in a stable financial position enabling investments totalling £35million which benefit everyone in Renfrewshire and which maximise the opportunities to leverage additional private and public funding.

“It has been carefully considered conscious of the challenging financial outlook facing all local authorities and work is well under way to transform how we work, focusing our resources where they are most needed and ensuring we are fit for the future.”

Visit Renfrewshire Budget 2020 for full details.

dance 1

DOZENS of secondary school pupils have taken to the stage to compete in the third Renfrewshire Schools Secondary Dance Competition.

The eight schools that took part in the contest held at Renfrew High were Castlehead, Paisley Grammar, St Benedict’s, Gryffe, Johnstone High, Park Mains, St Andrews and Renfrew High.

dance 1

The dance competition organised by Renfrewshire Leisure’s Sport Services Active Schools staff allowed all year groups to compete, with more than one dance group from each school doing a routine in each category. The three categories were Junior, Senior and Mixed.

The event was judged by, Sam Duncan (Active Schools coordinator and assistant teacher at Jamdance), Jaime Stalley (Active Schools sessional coach and former dancer for Jazzle Dazzle), and Karen Moir (Owner of Karen Moir’s dance school).

The results were –

Junior category: 1. St Benedict’s High; 2. Renfrew High and 3. Castlehead High. Senior category: 1. Renfrew High; 2. Renfrew High and 3. Gryffe High. Mixed category: 1. Gryffe High; 2. Renfrew High and 3.  Johnstone High.

Renfrewshire Leisure chairperson, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “There were some great performances from all the schools and they performed a range of different dance styles.

“We encourage young people to get involved in dance as it is very creative and also a good way to keep fit and healthy.”

Cllr Cathy McEwan

Volunteers are being praised after more than 70 Team Up to Clean Up litter picks took place across the winter period in Renfrewshire.

The award-winning campaign saw 278 volunteers take part from October to January with more than 300 bags of rubbish removed from the local environment.

Cllr Cathy McEwan

Volunteer groups and lone volunteers also identified larger items which had been fly tipped and alerted the council to have them removed.

The dedication and hard work of local people has been hailed ahead of the annual Big Spring Clean event, which last year saw more than 1750 people take part throughout April.

Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “It’s inspiring to see the dedication of local people and their desire to make where they live a cleaner, brighter place for the community.

“While the winter often sees fewer litter picks than normal, people have still been heading out to do their bit.

“We’ve built a real community within Team Up to Clean Up and it’s fantastic to see the impact of the work of local people – it really is appreciated and is making a huge difference.

“I’m looking forward to the Big Spring Clean next month as we’ve seen thousands of people take part during the previous two events and with the campaign just continuing to grow, let’s see what we can do this time!”

For more information, and to join the campaign, visit


Starting on 10 March for 4 weeks (Tuesday 9.30am-12pm) these fun motivational workshops will help you identify your skills and qualities. Learn about stress and well-being and help inspire you to take positive steps towards your future. Come along and see what change you can make happen for you!


Contact Kathleen for more info 0141 842 1015 or email

Hand over of Johnstone Police station to community groups 20.8.18

Communities in Renfrewshire are set to see the benefit of a strategic partnership between the council and prominent community organisation Active Communities.

Building on the council’s commitment to community empowerment, the agreement will strengthen partnership working, support mutual learning and identify opportunities for further collaboration where possible.

Hand over of Johnstone Police station to community groups 20.8.18

Hand over of Johnstone Police station to community groups 20.8.18

The agreement is set to aid the asset transfer of the former police station in Johnstone as Active Communities move their day-to-day business into the site, as well as continuing to transform it into an innovative health and wellbeing centre for the local community.

The group are working closely with the Robertson Trust to develop only the second Women’s Centre of its kind in Scotland within the station as part of their KAIROS initiative, which will provide a vibrant, safe space for women to come together for social activities, courses and classes.

The project so far has brought significant funding into Renfrewshire from the Scottish Land Fund, Town Centre Capital Fund, the Robertson Trust and the council’s Community Empowerment Fund.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “I’m delighted that we’ve strengthened our relationship with Active Communities once again as we support the fantastic work they are undertaking at the former police station in Johnstone.

“It is soon to be a thriving hub for the local community, including the creation of a safe space for women through the outstanding work of the KAIROS initiative.

Hand over of Johnstone Police station to community groups 20.8.18

Hand over of Johnstone Police station to community groups 20.8.18

“The agreement will allow us to work more closely with the group to identify further opportunities for collaboration as we further enhance our commitment to community empowerment in Renfrewshire.”

The partnership agreement will be continually monitored and will initially last for one year.

Susan McDonald, Active Communities Chief Executive, said: “We believe strongly in partnership working and are delighted to be signing a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Renfrewshire Council.

“We’re committed to supporting each other to achieve our strategic objectives and believe that this close collaboration will deliver significant mutual benefit for our two organisations.

“We have ambitious plans to transform the former police station in Johnstone into a community-led Health and Wellbeing Centre which will focus on prevention and early intervention, reducing inequalities, tackling loneliness and isolation, and building the capacity of the local community to take the lead in preventative action.

“Working closely with Renfrewshire Council will allow us to develop this exciting project, explore new ways of working and share learning with others. We will be launching our feel good Renfrewshire Campaign and we’re excited to encourage other partners to join us on this.”

For more information on community empowerment in Renfrewshire, visit


Payment amount to increase for applications received from April

Over 1,500 payments were made from mid-September to late January to help people in Scotland pay for funerals according to latest Funeral Support Payment statistics that were published today.


Eligible applicants received an average of £1,516 to help towards the cost of a loved ones funeral.

And from April 1, the standard flat rate will be increasing by 40% to £1000, to further support those struggling with funeral costs. The latest statistics show that almost eight out of ten (78 percent) of applications were authorised.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Coping with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult events any of us can face. It’s even harder when there’s extra stress trying to find the money to pay for a funeral.

“I am encouraged by these new figures which show Funeral Support Payment has been available to support people at such a difficult time in their lives.“

“Making sure that everyone gets the financial support they are entitled to is a basic step in putting dignity and respect at the heart of social security in Scotland.”


  • Introduced in September last year, the Funeral Support Payment replaced the UK Government’s Funeral Expense Payment in Scotland, increasing eligibility. It is intended to help alleviate the burden of debt faced by those on low income benefits when paying for a funeral.

  • The Funeral Support Payment is made up of three separate parts: burial or cremation costs; travel costs; and a flat rate for other expenses – and it is this element which is being increased.
  • For further information or to apply online line go to: