Renfrewshire Building services team strikes gold with national award

A new approach which has boosted employment opportunities, employee skills and customer satisfaction has gained a prestigious national award for Renfrewshire Council’s building services team.

The team has been awarded the Investors in People gold standard for business improvement – the highest accolade of its kind.

Building services, which is responsible for carrying out repairs and planned maintenance across council owned buildings, offices and homes, impressed the IIP assessors with the changes it has made over the past two years to improve the quality and efficiency of its service.

IIP Apprentices 140813

The improvements have been driven by a new management structure, new ways of working and a performance management system that focuses on developing and multi-skilling the team that includes 190 employees covering nine different trades.

In addition to carrying out 70,000 housing repairs each year, the building services team also supports the delivery of the council’s major investment programme and projects such as the refurbishment of vacant properties.

Over 1,250 businesses in Scotland have received an Investors in People (IIP) award but less than 5% have achieved gold standard.

The IIP assessors praised the council’s commitment to creating local employment opportunities. This year seven apprentices joined the team, four through the council’s modern apprentice scheme for 16 to 19 year olds and three through the mature apprenticeship programme. The apprentices gain on the job experience and are given the opportunity to study and qualify in their preferred trade.

Councillor Mike Holmes, Deputy Leader for Renfrewshire Council said: “The building services team has worked hard to establish a new way of working that puts its staff at the centre of its operation. Only an efficient, highly skilled and motivated workforce can deliver the standards of service delivery expected by our residents.

“As the Investors in People report highlights, the number of council tenants satisfied with the work carried out in their homes has risen above 95% while staff sickness has fallen from 10.8% to 3.7%.

“The team’s new approach is clearly working. It’s encouraging that skills and development opportunities are at the heart of it and that our apprentices will be benefiting from their employment within a high performing service.

“Investors in People is the respected authority on business improvement and performance management. It’s an enormous achievement for building services to have received its gold standard. I congratulate everyone involved and hope we can achieve this same level of excellence across the council.”

Article and Photograph courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

Bray Controls takes Chamber Awards 2013 Success

Renfrewshire Chamber member Bray Controls (UK) from Inchinnan, is celebrating after being crowned one of the winners in the Scottish heats of the Chamber Awards 2013. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Chamber Awards, now in their 10th anniversary year, is one of the showpiece events in the business calendar, highlighting the role of business as a positive force for the UK recovery, and for local communities.

Bray won 2 awards for the Scottish Region: Exporter of the Year and Commitment to People Development.  Bray now go forward to represent Scotland in the national finals, which take place in London in November.

Nora Senior, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“I visit businesses up and down the country and am constantly impressed by their determination, innovation and the contributions they are making to their local communities. Many of them are optimistic and looking for opportunities to grow and find new markets for their products and services both at home and abroad. These are the kinds of businesses that will become the wealth creators of tomorrow, and will play a crucial role in helping the UK economy move from being good, to being great in the months and years ahead. The Chamber Awards, now in its tenth anniversary year, is the perfect platform to showcase the amazing work of UK firms across the country, and show the world why Business is Good for Britain.”

Bray attended the recent Renfrewshire Chamber lunch where they were awarded their certificates from Chamber President Tom Johnston who commented “Bray are a very supportive member of the Chamber who have given great opportunities to several young people via the Recruit and Invest in Renfrewshire. Congratulations to Bray on their double regional win and we look forward to attending the finals with them in London.”

Bray MD George Crooks said “it’s great recognition for Bray’s employees, many of whom have watched the business almost from Day 1. The awards reflect well on Bray, and also on the efforts and support of Renfrewshire Chamber.”

About Bray – Bray has earned a reputation for excellence by creating products of superior value and quality, providing personalised customer service and on-time deliveries. Their success has always been the direct result of their fully integrated range of butterfly valve and control products. Rugged and reliable, their products are engineered to provide years of trouble free service.

Information and photographs courtesy of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

Renfrewshire Council wins national excellence award for school meals service

Renfrewshire Council’s catering team has scooped ‘Best Service Team’ of the year at a top national awards ceremony.

The catering team won the award after judges praised the successful transformation of its school meal service, which has attracted pupils back with new menus and innovative dining options.

The catering team provides healthy, nutritious meals across the council’s 65 pre-five centres, primary, secondary and additional support need schools. Over the past two years it has trialled new ways of delivering its school meals service introducing a more flexible approach with its ‘grab & go’ menus in primary schools, ‘dine in days’ and cafe style eateries in secondary schools.

APSE award

The new formats have proved popular with pupils and where implemented have lead to an increase in the numbers of young people opting for school meals.

The accolade of ‘Best Service Team – Catering’ was awarded by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), which promotes the local authorities from across the UK that have continued to improve services for residents or raise standards through innovation.

Renfrewshire Council topped the list of finalists beating other catering teams from the likes of North Lanarkshire, North Tyneside and Wrexham councils to the title.

Councillor Eddie Devine, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board, said: “It’s thanks to the input from our catering staff that we’ve been able to improve and update our school catering service. Moving away from the traditional format of a sit-down meal served in the dinner hall to a more informal, self-serve approach has been highly effective. It is a lot more appealing for pupils and gives our young people access to a greater range of healthy, nutritious and affordable food options.

“The catering team, which employs around 300 part-time employees, should be proud of what it has achieved. This APSE award is thoroughly deserved and I hope it inspires them to continue seeing the benefits of the changes taking place in Renfrewshire’s school canteens and dining halls. ”

Renfrewshire Council was listed as a finalist in three other APSE award categories:

* ‘Best Partnership Working Initiative’ for its Community Safety Hub;

* ‘Best Service Team – Construction & Building’ for building services, which recently achieved the Investors in People gold standard for business improvement; and

* ‘Overall Service Team of the Year’ for improved service delivery across all council services.

Information and photograph courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

Lochwinnoch Arts Festival Outreach

Presents a Pre-Mòd Concert featuring The Largs Gaelic Choir and our own Witches’ Brew aka  Clare Robertson and Pauline Vallance

The Factory Street Quartet featuring Colin Frame, Dominic Snyder, Connor Burgess & Alan Dixon and Willie Gamble

Saturday 28th September 2013
Lochwinnoch Parish Church
7.30pm,  tea/coffee included

Tickets £5 and £2.50 cons available at
Calder Gallery and The Junction

Renfrewshire Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival 2013

Are you ready to SMHAFF?

Renfrewshire Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival 2013

Only a few days until the seventh Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival kicks off! We are very, very proud to call this one our biggest and strongest Festivals yet. As you may imagine, the past few days have been extremely busy for everyone involved, but also very rewarding. We can now feel everyone’s expectation as they look forward to the Festival and that means a lot.

Renfrewshire Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival 2013The Festival will officially begins on Tuesday, 1 Oct, with opening events ranging from a relaxing retreat day in the beautiful surroundings of Muirshiel Country Park (Renfrewshire) to an evening exploring the concepts of reality and memory through poetry in St Andrews (Fife).

In Glasgow, Festival favourite Vanessa Coffey (Down The Rabbit Hole) and ‘one man artist collective’ the vacuum cleaner present an incredible dance and performance double-bill at Tramway for three nights, from Thursday to Saturday. Tickets have been selling fast – the opening performance is already sold out – so if you want to catch this intimate gem on Friday or Saturday, we advise you to book as soon as possible.

This fantastic opening week will culminate on Saturday 5, with Duglas T Stewart’s film and music event Serious Drugs in Bellshill, our Festival Family Day in the Kinning Park Complex, Saturday Night Fever followed by a disco at SWG3 and Alan Berliner’s First Cousin Once Removed screening in Edinburgh Filmhouse –the film will be coming to Glasgow on the Sunday. Saying we are excited to welcome world-class documentarian Alan Berliner to the Festival is a massive understatement. Get a taste of this event in our exclusive interview here.

Speaking from New York ahead of his visit to the UK, Berliner discusses his unique relationship with poet Edwin Honig, the impact of Alzheimer’s on this deeply intellectual figure and the crucial role memory plays in shaping our identity.
We hope you enjoy reading this fantastic and inspiring interview and we look forward to seeing you at SMHAFF 2013.

Best wishes,

The Festival team

Council Leader wants Renfrewshire to lead the way on tackling unemployment

Renfrewshire Council’s Leader wants the area to lead the way on tackling youth unemployment and is urging partner organisations to do all they can to help.

The council has made a significant investment in its £8m Invest in Renfrewshire programme, which aims to reduce youth unemployment and boost the local economy.

Councillor Mark MacmillanNow, Councillor Mark Macmillan is asking the council’s public-sector partners to consider whether they can do more to help tackle the issue.

He said: “The rate of youth unemployment among young people is far higher than the average for all age groups, in both Renfrewshire and Scotland.

“The council is determined to avoid a ‘lost generation’ of young people who are frozen out of work – which is why we have made tackling youth unemployment a priority though Invest in Renfrewshire.

“The public sector has a crucial role to play in addressing youth unemployment, which is why we are formally asking our partners to buy in to our agenda of up-scaling what Renfrewshire’s public sector does to tackle this issue.

“We want Renfrewshire to lead the way when it comes to cutting unemployment among 18 – 24 year olds.”

A meeting of the Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership Board saw the council ask other public-sector agencies in the area to consider how well they use existing council or government programmes set up to help young people into work.

Partner agencies agreed to:

* Engage with the Invest programme and provide direct support to young people;

* Agree to host as many internships, work placements and workplace visits as possible;

* Set ambitious targets in providing job opportunities and report back on these.

Invest in Renfrewshire includes an employer recruitment incentive, which pays half the wage costs of a new employee at national minimum wage for up to nine months, with an extra £1,000 available to companies agreeing to pay the Living Wage of £7.50 an hour.

It also includes a graduate internship programme, which pays a subsidy of up to £5,000 to organisations taking on an unemployed graduate for a project-led position of up to 11 months.

Renfrewshire Council nominated at national apprentice awards

A council scheme to introduce young people to the world of work is one of a string of local individuals and organisations to be nominated for prestigious national honours.

The shortlist for Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship Awards 2013 sees Renfrewshire Council listed as a finalist in the Public Sector Employer category, in recognition of the council’s highly-regarded modern apprenticeship scheme.

Angela Wilson

Renfrewshire Council employee Angela Wilson is a finalist in the Apprentice Champion category, for former apprentices who have continued to make exceptional achievements and promote the scheme.

Angela completed her modern apprenticeship in 2012, before moving into a job with the council’s youth employment team.

And the event could be a big celebration for the area, with two other individuals and two companies from Renfrewshire also nominated.

The companies are Cairellot Nursery of Bishopton (SME Employer category) and Scottish Leather Group of Bridge of Weir (Large Employer).

The individuals are Sean McBride, from Renfrew, and Neil Stewart of Bishopton. Both are on the shortlist for the Apprentice of the Year – Technical and Professional award.

The awards are run by Skills Development Scotland and will take place on 13 November at Glasgow Science Centre.

Other good news is that another council apprentice, Ryan Finnigan, has been named as a finalist in the Candidate of the Year category of the SQA Star Awards 2013.

Councillor Roy Glen, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Economy and Jobs Policy Board, said: “These nominations are testament to the quality of the council’s modern apprentice scheme, which has earned itself a good reputation over the years.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to all involved in the scheme, and to Angela and Ryan – who have been shinings example to other apprentices.

“It is also great to see so many other Renfrewshire companies and individuals make it on the shortlist for the Modern Apprenticeship Awards.

“Several of the firms involved have worked closely with the council through our Invest in Renfrewshire programme, which aims to boost the local economy and tackle youth unemployment.

“For six of the 29 nominees at a Scotland-wide awards ceremony to be from Renfrewshire is a tribute to the quality of the workplace-based training schemes we have here.”

A modern apprenticeship allows a young person aged between 16 and 19 to pick up on-the-job experience while studying for a vocational qualification.

Renfrewshire Council offers modern apprenticeships in both office and craft-based environments, covering disciplines such as construction, horticulture, vehicle maintenance and many more.

For more info about the scheme, visit the council’s website or call 0141 618 7277.

The council recently agreed to make available an extra £200,000 to create 40 new apprenticeships through the Invest in Renfrewshire programme.

Invest in Renfrewshire business hub

Renfrewshire Businesses get chance to quiz the experts

Renfrewshire firms can pick up some business-boosting tips at a series of free meet-the-experts events next month.

The special sessions will allow businesses of all kind to find out more about subjects including how to access business-growth funding, and bid for council contracts.

They will be hosted at Renfrewshire Council’s recently-opened business hub in Lawn Street, Paisley throughout October.

Invest in Renfrewshire business hub

Other topics set to be covered include consumer protection, planning and building standards, business licensing, recruitment, and funding for the third sector.

Each of the ten sessions will be staffed by an expert from the council or elsewhere, who will be able to answer questions and offer advice on their subject.

They are open to any local businessperson, although visitors will need to book a timeslot in advance.

To see a full list of sessions and times, and for details on how to book a timeslot, visit

Councillor Roy Glen, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Economy and Jobs Policy Board, said: “The council has a key role to play in creating conditions in which local firms can grow.

“We have made a significant investment in boosting the local economy through our Invest in Renfrewshire programme, to which more than 400 local firms have signed up since it launched last June.

“We are keen to ensure that any knowledge which could help the local business community is passed on, which is why we are hosting these meet-the-expert events.

“If successful, we will look to make these sessions a regular feature in future. I would encourage any local firms to get in touch and find out more.”

Invest in Renfrewshire is the council’s flagship £8m programme to tackle youth unemployment and boost the local economy.

The council recently opened the Invest in Renfrewshire Business Hub in Lawn Street, with the facility intended to be a one-stop shop for local firms to find out about the scheme.

The hub contains rooms which are available for any local business in need of meeting space to use.

For more information about Invest in Renfrewshire, call 0300 300 1180, email or visit

Rugby sponsorship helps tackle youth unemployment

Three young Renfrewshire modern apprentices have landed sponsorship deals for the second year of their programme with Scottish Rugby Union.

Leading IT consultancy firm Sopra Group provided the sponsorship for local students Amanda Moore, Andrew Evans and Murray Sutherland.

The modern apprentices were funded in year one by the Scottish Rugby Union and Renfrewshire Council. With those organisations’ support, the offer from Sopra Group allows them to continue with the programme.

Two first-year apprentices, Daniel Caine and Martin McKellar, have been given support from the council to begin the apprenticeship programme this year.

The money came through Invest in Renfrewshire, the council’s £8m programme to boost the local economy and tackle youth unemployment.

Sopra’s Managing Director, Ian Huckle, visited the apprentices with Sopra’s Scottish Rugby Ambassador and ex-Scottish rugby international Scott Hastings and Councillor Jim Harte, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sports Leisure and Culture Policy Board, as they delivered Renfrewshire rugby’s annual development day for Secondary 1 and 2 boys.

Representatives of Invest in Renfrewshire and the Scottish Rugby Union were also there to witness the apprentices put the pupils through their paces.

Councillor Harte said “It’s great to see companies such as Sopra taking an interest in the young people of the area and helping them reach their potential.

“Invest in Renfrewshire has worked very hard to secure funding for many young apprentices, graduate interns and young people who are out of work.

“It is exciting to see the hard work pay off and local firms getting more involved.”

Ian Huckle said “Sopra Group is pleased to be able to create opportunities for employment via the apprentice scheme. We recognise the positive and dynamic impact sport can have on lives.

“It can inspire and motivate children to strive for a better quality of life and develop core skills. By investing in the apprentices we hope we can help deliver a sustainable sporting legacy in the area.”

Scott Hastings added “With a long involvement in sport and rugby in particular I know that Amanda, Andrew and Murray will be gaining a huge amount from their apprenticeships, as will the children they are working with on a daily basis.

“Coaching has its own rewards and Sopra’s support is helping give young people the confidence to go out into their local communities and make a difference.”

The event, at Paisley Rugby Club, will also see teams from the local secondary schools compete in either the established school or emerging schools 7’s competition, which will feature teams from Castlehead High School, Paisley Grammar School, Trinity High, Johnstone High, Linwood High and Park Mains High.

Glasgow Airport logo 2013


Charities and community groups have been invited to compete for a £50,000 lump sum from the Glasgow Airport FlightPath Fund.

The money will be given to the organisation which makes the most convincing case for a significant community project which will bring a lasting benefit to those living under the flightpath.

Glasgow Airport logo 2013In order to be considered for the airport’s third Challenge Fund, applicants must demonstrate their project will lead to positive outcomes in at least one of three areas – education, employment and the environment.

On two previous occasions the Challenge Fund has awarded large sums to worthy projects. The community departments of Celtic and Rangers football clubs received £50,000 between them to enable educational youth football programmes to take place in Clydebank and Drumchapel.

This funding ensured 280 young people were able to benefit from more than 40 hours of coaching and workshops designed to tackle anti-social behaviour and sectarianism, while also increasing the number of young people taking part in physical activity.

And the charity Scottish Business in the Community (SBC) received £40,000 which allowed them to pilot a new project called Skills for Sustainable Tourism, which introduces young people to the career opportunities available in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Amanda McMillan, Glasgow Airport’s managing director, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for a local community group or a national charity delivering local projects to think of a really innovative and beneficial project which would not be possible without this level of donation.

“After two successful Challenge Funds in recent years we are confident this will generate a lot of interest. Through the FlightPath Fund we support a wide range of organisations and hopefully the applications we receive will reflect this diversity.”

Bob Christie, SBC’s regional manager for Glasgow, said: “The Skills for Sustainable Tourism project was very successful and would not have been possible without the Challenge Fund money. It’s fantastic that a high-profile business such as Glasgow Airport, which directly and indirectly supports thousands of jobs in tourism and hospitality, both funded and participated in the programme.

“By committing so much of its money and time, Glasgow Airport showed it is willing to invest in the future of the young people in its community and the future of tourism in Scotland. Charities and community groups should be really excited that another Challenge Fund has been launched.”

The Challenge Fund is supported by money from the Communities Trust, formerly the BAA Communities Trust, which is the charitable arm of Glasgow Airport’s parent company.

The Communities Trust is one of the revenue streams which make up the airport’s FlightPath Fund, which was established in 2010 to ensure nearby communities share in the airport’s success.

It supports communities in those areas of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire which lie under the flightpath. Each of these four local authority areas is represented on the decision-making panel.

The FlightPath Fund has awarded in excess of £550,000 to more than 150 community groups and charities, and in 2012 made awards totalling more than £200,000.

If you are a charity or community group seeking funding and your project meets the criteria below then why not apply?

To be considered a project must:

  • Create a significant and sustainable benefit to the community.
  • Yield positive outcomes in at least one of the following areas: education, employment and the environment.
  • Benefit a significant number of people.

Applications must:

  • Provide clear evidence that the project will fulfil a local need.
  • Provide clear evidence of the financial viability of the project.

The closing date for applications is Friday 18 October. The Glasgow Airport FlightPath Fund’s decision-making panel will shortlist the strongest entries and the winner will be chosen by the trustees of the Communities Trust.

If you would like more information on the Challenge Fund or FlightPath Fund visit, e-mail or write to FlightPath Fund, Glasgow Airport, St Andrew’s Drive, Paisley, PA3 2SW