£1.87million fund set to launch as Renfrewshire further empowers its communities

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The next steps of a £1.87million investment in Renfrewshire’s green spaces and villages are set to be considered as part of a continued drive to empower local community groups and residents.

Councillors will consider a report at the upcoming Leadership Board which outlines the key objectives and the proposed application process of the Green Spaces, Parks and Play Areas and Villages Investment Fund, after the Council made the commitment in the 2018/19 budget.
The fund is set to empower local people to make physical and environmental improvements across Renfrewshire as they are supported to work up ideas and projects and advised on how to access the funding required to bring them to life.

Communities will also be supported to carry out condition and development surveys of green spaces, including parks and play areas, as their ideas are sought on how to develop and improve their local area.
£370,000 of the investment has been allocated to develop a Villages Investment Fund which will encourage applications from smaller communities and will deliver projects that strengthen the identity, heritage, uniqueness and integrity of village life.
A further £110,000 has been allocated to support the provision of a Multi-Use Games Area or alternative facility in the Bargarran area of Erskine.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson, said: “We’re committed to providing our communities with the opportunity to develop, improve and take forward projects which will benefit their local area.
“This new fund is a significant investment in our communities and we want residents to tell us what they need to make their area a better place to live.
“We’ll provide the support, expertise and impetus to bring their visions to reality if they can demonstrate that their idea will make a real and sustainable difference to the lives of those around them.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the exciting ideas for improvements coming forward from local communities once the fund is officially launched.”
As part of the recent major improvements to Renfrewshire’s parks, which saw £1million invested in both Robertson Park in Renfrew and Barshaw Park in Paisley, £250,000 was allocated to five neighbourhood parks in the area – Thomas Shanks Park, Johnstone; Barwood Park, Erskine; Houston Road Public Park, Bridge of Weir; Howwood Public Park; and Kilbarchan Public Park.
Discussions are ongoing with communities over the best use of these funds and the report to Councillors notes that communities will be supported to access this funding and develop their ideas on how it should be used.
Councillors will consider the proposals at the Leadership Board meeting on 19 September 2018.
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Sign up to make it a Spotless September in Renfrewshire

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Enthusiastic volunteers are set to clean up Renfrewshire as they take part in the Spotless September Challenge, the latest event of the Team Up to Clean Up campaign.
Team UP To Clean UPPIC SHOWS Cllr Cathy McEwan with the pupils from Gleniffer High School
Taking place over the weekend of 28-30 September, hundreds of community volunteers, schoolkids, businesses and council staff are expected to take part in a series of litter picks.
Every town and village in Renfrewshire is being challenged to host a clean-up in their area, whether that’s through a lone litter picker or every class in a school taking part.
Team UP To Clean UPPIC SHOWS Cllr Cathy McEwan with the pupils from Gleniffer High School
The challenge will build on success of the Big Spring Clean, where more than 1000 volunteers turned out over one weekend in April to collect 500 bags of rubbish from the streets of Renfrewshire.
Lisa Chalmers, Gleniffer High School Head Teacher, said: “Our pupils are delighted to take part in the Spotless September Challenge and have been actively trying to keep our community clean through regular litter picks.
“Young people across the school have committed to working together to endorse the ‘Team Up to Clean Up’ message and are aware of the importance of this in our local community.
“It’s great to show our neighbours that we respect our local area and appreciate the surroundings we have. “
Since the campaign was launched in October last year, more than 150 litter picks have taken place by inspired local volunteers.
To celebrate the success of the campaign, and the weekend of the Challenge, a special thank you event is set to take place at Paisley Town Hall on Sunday 30 September – with volunteers invited for food and networking with like-minded people from across Renfrewshire.
Councillor Cathy McEwan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, said: “The Big Spring Clean was a fantastic success and showed the level of support which the community has for the campaign.
“We’re working hard to make our communities brighter and more attractive places to live, and this can only happen if people come on board and make sure they do their bit to make a difference.
“We have many fantastic community groups carrying out inspirational work and they’re always looking for like-minded people to join them.
“So if you can spare five minutes, an hour or more, please do so as it will all help contribute to improving our communities and making them places we are proud to say we live in.”
The Team Up to Clean Up campaign has been allocated £2.5million across five years to make a real difference to the cleanliness of the streets in Renfrewshire and improve the local environment.
As well as the support from local communities, an enhanced programme of operational activity is underway to clean gullies, sweep the roads and repair the roads infrastructure to ensure the campaign is a joint approach between the council and its residents.
If you’re keen to take part in the Spotless September Challenge, call 0300 300 1375, email wardens.es@renfrewshire.gov.uk or visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/teamuptocleanup.
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Family raises awareness in Suicide Prevention Week after own tragic loss

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Since his son Adam tragically took his own life, Andy Alcroft and his family have raised funds and awareness for charities for those bereaved by suicide.
The Paisley dad tells his story in Suicide Prevention Week, in the hope of stopping more families enduring the same heartbreak.
Adam Alcroft with sisters Amy, Allyson and Alana
Adam was just 23 took his own life in 2015 close to Elderslie Golf Club. He had been missing for more than two days.
Andy said: “Since the day Adam was found we’ve tried to do something different and do things that are positive to keep us going, such as raising funds for charities and talking about what happened.”
He says that there can be warning signs that someone is thinking of suicide and added: “Talking to someone who is thinking of taking their own life is essential, as is directing them to somewhere they can go if they’re feeling down and reassuring them it’s confidential.

“My message is that there are people out there who care and there are things that can be done.”
In the wake of Adam’s death, Andy, his wife Mandy and other family members have attended meetings of the Johnstone branch of SOBS, a self-help organisation that aims to shatter the isolation experienced by those bereaved by suicide.
He said: “It makes a real difference as we see others in our position who haven’t moved on. We had to do it a different way because our youngest daughter Amy was only two when we lost  Adam, so life had to go on.”
Andy also wants to raise awareness around mental health issues and said: “Since Adam was a small boy he experienced extreme highs and lows. It’s important that young people are able to get the help they need.”
Suicide Prevention Week is an annual awareness campaign to inform and engage the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide.
The campaign aims to reduce the stigma surrounding the issue, as well as encourage people to seek mental health assistance and to support those who have attempted suicide.
The week wraps around World Suicide Prevention Day, held on the 10 September each year.
Douglas Johnston is Service Coordinator of Renfrewshire HSCP Choose Life Service, which raises awareness of suicide prevention and runs free training courses to help people support anyone who is at risk of suicide.
He said: “We know that talking helps and can be key to keeping people safe. The training courses we run help people to develop their confidence in having those difficult conversations and helping people stay safe.
“If someone is thinking of suicide we encourage them to seek help, from someone. If they can’t think of someone to speak to then, they could contact their GP, NHS24, Breathing Space, Samaritans, RAMH First Crisis or HopeLine UK as someone will want to help.”
Raising awareness of suicide prevention and giving the public information is a vital part of the Choose Life work and the training is open to anyone who lives and/or works within Renfrewshire. For more information email chooselife.sw@renfrewshire.gov.uk
For more information on suicide prevention in Renfrewshire, call 0141 849 2200. The national helpline Breathing Space can be reached on 0800 83 85 87, and RAMH First Crisis can be contacted on 0141 848 9090.
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Learning digital skills is best way residents can prepare for Universal Credit

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Renfrewshire residents are being urged to learn basic digital skills ahead of Universal Credit coming into effect on Wednesday 19 September.
Universal Credit will replace six benefits and tax credits with a single monthly payment, but claims can only be made online using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.

The benefits and tax credits moving onto Universal Credit are: Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Residents who claim Universal Credit will also need to go online regularly to see tasks set by their work coach and update their journal to ensure their claim continues to be paid.
People who claim any of the six benefits or tax credits won’t need to apply for Universal Credit until the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) ask them to unless they have a change in circumstances.
New claims made after Wednesday 19 September will have to be made for Universal Credit and should be made as soon as possible as the benefit is calculated from the date the claim was submitted and cannot be backdated to an earlier date.
Darran Gillan, Youth and Programme Development Manager at Paisley YMCA, says more people need to learn basic digital skills to help them access online only platforms such as Universal Credit.
He said: “Never before has it been more important to have basic digital skills. As Universal Credit is only accessible online on the UK Government’s website, many people who don’t yet have the right digital skills will find it difficult to make their claim and keep up with their claim commitments.
“Many local community groups and organisations offer digital support and learning opportunities, so people should check out what is in their area ahead of needing to make a claim for Universal Credit.”
Residents can make an appointment with a volunteer digital teacher – known as a Digiteer – at one of Renfrewshire’s libraries, run by Renfrewshire Leisure Limited on behalf of Renfrewshire Council, by calling 0300 300 1188 or visiting www.renfrewshireleisure.com/libraries.
Many local community groups hold their own digital training sessions that can help residents to get more confidence with going online and residents are encouraged to check out what it in their area.
People who have their own smartphone, tablet or laptop can make use of free public wifi in Johnstone, Renfrew and Paisley town centres.
Those who don’t have a computer can use a public computer at their local library or Jobcentre Plus office. Computers are also available at Renfrewshire House and 5 High Street in Paisley as well as Johnstone Town Hall.
Tenants of social or private-rented housing should check with their landlord to see what support is available to them.
Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It’s important that everyone takes advantage of digital training in their local area as those skills will be useful should they need to claim Universal Credit.
“People needing a little bit of help getting online can book an appointment with a Digiteer in a library and we have made sure that public computers are available that can be used to learn digital skills, make a claim for Universal Credit or keep up with their claim commitments.
“Free public wifi in Johnstone, Renfrew and Paisley town centres will also help many people who already have a smartphone, tablet or laptop and just need access to the internet.”
People applying for Universal Credit will need to have the following information to hand:
-Personal details, including National Insurance Number, proof of address and identity and email address
-Home details, including postcode, proof of address, housing costs including rent or mortgage, property type, and who owns the property and any ‘rent-free’ weeks you are allowed by a landlord
-Financial details, including bank, building society or credit union account and earnings, pension or child maintenance payments and savings
For more information on Universal Credit and support in Renfrewshire, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/universalcredit.
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Doors open across Renfrewshire

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Historic buildings and locations across Renfrewshire opened their doors this weekend to thousands of visitors as part of Doors Open Days.
Ope Doors at Renfrewshire. 8.9.18
Part of a worldwide event with over 50 countries taking part, Renfrewshire’s Doors Open Days is a celebration of the fantastic design and architectural history of the region.
Popular heritage buildings – such as the John Neilson Institute and the Russell Institute welcomed hundreds of visitors through their doors.

Those interested in the weaving history of the area had the opportunity to visit the Sma’ Shot Cottages and the Kilbarchan Weavers Cottage, and Paisley: The Secret Collection was also open, giving the public a chance to see thousands of objects reflecting Renfrewshire’s amazing heritage and culture.
Paisley Police Office welcomed the public to their grounds – there was even a chance to learn some CPR skills; while Paisley Abbey offered visitors a stunning view of Paisley’s skyline from the tower.
There was something for everyone, with the RSPB Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve allowing visitors a chance to get up close with wildlife, and several walking tours around Renfrewshire focusing on the rich history and heritage of the area.
For the first time, members of the public were invited inside the mysterious Abbey Drain exclusively for Doors Open Days. The 90-metre-long medieval structure was first discovered in 1879 and then rediscovered in 1990. Over 1000 people applied for this unique opportunity, with tickets allocated through a ballot for 15 minute long tours of the drain led by expert Bob Will from GUARD Archaeology.
Paisley Museum and Art Galleries hosted a Museum Memories film evening in advance of the planned closure later this month to prepare for a £42m refurbishment, and hundreds of people took to the Gleniffer Braes on Sunday as River City star, Tom Urie, and a series of local acts kept the crowds entertained all afternoon.
Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron also took the opportunity to visit various places across Renfrewshire.
Provost Cameron said: “Doors Open Days is a fantastic opportunity to visit those places across Renfrewshire we don’t normally have the chance to see.
“I was delighted to see so many people out enjoying themselves and taking part in the brilliant activities on offer.
“This year I was pleased to welcome visitors in to the Council Chambers, and to see such a great community turn out at the Discover Gleniffer Braes event. Photos of the Gleniffer Braes event taken by Brick Lane Studios.

“We are so lucky to have a wealth of culture and heritage on our doorstep and it’s important we continue to take advantage of the amazing opportunities right here in Renfrewshire.
“Our annual music, comedy and drama festival ‘The Spree’ is just a few weeks away and will kick off a season of exciting events across Renfrewshire. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.”
The Spree festival takes place between 12-20 October and has yet another bumper line up ready to entertain locals and visitors.
Information on who’s playing and how to buy tickets is available at: www.thespree.co.uk.
For information on further events set to take place across Renfrewshire visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or www.paisley.is
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Renfrewshire’s anti-bullying policy informed by parents and pupils

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Parents, head teachers and pupils have all been consulted on Renfrewshire’s new anti-bullying policy.
The updated document, which was approved by councillors at the Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, has been revised by Renfrewshire Council in line with new national guidance.

The new policy restates how bullying behaviour in schools must always be challenged and outlines the aim of creating learning environments where bullying can’t thrive.
Each school will have a member of staff acting as the anti-bullying lead.
It also outlines the importance of offering children and young people friendly, safe and confidential ways to raise concerns about themselves or others and be supported to ensure there is little or no long-term impact. This includes support for those who have shown bullying behaviour.
Head and Depute Heads across Renfrewshire will attend workshops to discuss the new policy, while there will be additional anti bullying training days for other school staff, delivered by Scotland’s anti-bullying Service, Respect Me. It has delivered eight training days for the council since 2016.
Consultation on the policy, led by anti-bullying expert Brian Donnelly, a former director of Respect Me, revealed that more than 90 per cent of parents surveyed said that along with carers and schools, they shared equal responsibility to talk to their children about bullying.
Teachers across 14 primary schools held discussions with pupils from primary two to primary seven as part of the consultation process, while pupils from a further four schools took part in focus groups to give their views on bullying.
Pupils could also give their views anonymously and a survey was sent to all parent council chairs.
All pupils mentioned having good teachers who made them feel safe and who they knew would help them, while some younger pupils were concerned at being seen as ‘telling tales’ if they reported bullying.
Some children said they didn’t think being told to hit back was good advice and a number of senior pupils said they worried about parents overreacting.
Education and Children’s Services Convener Councillor Jim Paterson said: “The safety and wellbeing of the children and young people in our schools is paramount, and the policy was updated after consultation with parents, schools and pupils.
“Bullying is never acceptable, but unfortunately it does happen and we are determined to tackle it through measures such as staff training and actions to prevent bullying behaviour from taking place, as well as supporting any pupils affected by it.
“If any child, young person or parent has a concern about bullying then they should speak to someone at school, whether it be the head or class teacher, a classroom assistant, or in some schools, a buddy or playground friend who is an older pupil.”
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Burial fees for families who lose a child under the age of 18 are scrapped by Renfrewshire Council

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Families who lose a child under the age of 18 will no longer have to pay burial fees after they were scrapped by Renfrewshire Council.

The agreement, which was approved by councillors at the Infrastructure, Land and Environment policy board, is an extension to local authority fees for under 16’s being waived as part of the budget for 2018-19.
In Renfrewshire, cremation services are provided by the private sector and the Council will work with local services to seek their support to remove their charges for under 18’s.
The move comes as the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities have agreed a programme to remove local authority charges for burials and cremations for under 18’s across Scotland.
The Scottish Government has provided a £10,000 contribution towards the costs of implementing the programme across Renfrewshire.
There will be no charge for interment fees, lair purchase and headstone permits and foundation for a child under 18.
The Council’s charges for interments and new lairs for Renfrewshire residents are among the lowest in Scotland and all Funeral Directors provide a basic funeral package which is below the national average of £3,500.
Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Infrastructure, Land and Environment Policy Board, Councillor Cathy McEwan, said: “No family should face financial hardship in order to bury or cremate their child. We are committed to further supporting bereaved families at what is obviously the most difficult of times and waiving fees for those who lose a child under 18 means no one has to face an added financial burden in their time of grief.”
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Family Roller Disco Paisley

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We are rolling back into The Lagoon Centre in Paisley on Saturday 29-9-18! We are excited to be back and SK8 with you all again, it’s been a while! We are looking forward to doing it all again. Skates for hire and great music to SK8 to.

Grab those friends and all the family for a giggle, all while helping to keep fit, couldn’t ask for more! Let’s Roll Paisley!
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Councillor Lorraine Cameron Provost of Renfrewshire

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PROVOST’S CHARITY BALL – FRIDAY 5th OCTOBER 2018
My chosen charity this year is MND Scotland, in memory of my mum, and all Renfrewshire citizens who are either suffering from, or have lost their lives to Motor Neurone Disease.

I have organised a charity ball which will take place on 5th October at the luxury 5* Mar Hall Golf and Spa Resort. The circus themed evening is formal [black tie] and tickets are priced at £80. The glitzy journey along the red carpet includes a pre-dinner drinks reception, followed by a three-course dinner and half a bottle of wine per person.
I have invited Gina McKie, Radio DJ, to act as compere, and the fabulous Pulse Show Band to perform so that you can dance and enjoy yourself into the wee small hours. I will also have a few surprise performances for you along the way and there will also be a fantastic auction – with a little something for everyone!
I have also negotiated special bed a breakfast room rates for those who wish to book overnight accommodation. These rooms will be available from Friday 10th August and if you would like to take advantage of this, simply contact the hotel directly on 0141-812-9999, mentioning that you are a guest at the Provost’s Ball.
Of course, I would be delighted if you could attend the Ball, but if you can’t, perhaps you would consider donating a prize for our auction. Anything you can give, no matter how small, is exceptionally important.
I cannot wait for this fantastic evening of great food, entertainment and fun, and I really hope you are able to join me to support this amazing charity.
Best wishes
Councillor Lorraine Cameron Provost of Renfrewshire
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St Fergus’ Primary School gets top marks in school inspection

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St Fergus’ Primary School in Paisley has been praised by inspectors for raising attainment levels among pupils and the commitment of staff to improving the life chances of children.

An inspection team from Education Scotland visited the new build Ferguslie Park school in May, and spoke with pupils, teachers and staff.
The school, which has around 150 pupils, achieved a ‘very good’ assessment for fostering wellbeing, equality and inclusion and a ‘good’ grading across three other key evaluations, including for learning, teaching and assessment and raising attainment and achievement.

Other strengths highlighted were the ‘can do’ attitude in children who were confident in taking on new challenges and also how they felt supported and encouraged by staff to achieve their best.
The report also detailed the work of staff in providing a bright and stimulating learning environment for children and their ‘very inclusive and nurturing approach’, which ensured children feel safe and cared for whilst at school.

The overall attainment in literacy and numeracy in the school is rated as ‘good’ and the report stated: “The majority of children, including those requiring additional support with their learning, are achieving appropriate Curriculum for Excellence levels and a few are exceeding these.  Most children, including those requiring additional support with their learning, are making good progress from their prior levels of attainment.”
Overall, attainment in reading and writing is also good across the school.
The reports also praised the work in pupil’s leadership and stated: “The school is developing children’s leadership skills well across the school.  Opportunities include house captains, head boy and head girl, digital leaders, eco committee, Spanish Ambassadors, Mini Vinnies, library monitors and buddies.
“Children increasingly have a voice in the school and generally feel that their views are listened to and taken on board.”
Digital handheld tablets have been introduced across the school and are being used to support and enhance pupil engagement, while in all classes, electronic profiling is used by pupils, which is motivating them to record, share and evaluate their learning.
A weekly ‘Pizza Reading’ programme provides parents with an opportunity to join their children on a weekly basis to read, learn and have fun together.
The wellbeing of children was also praised with staff and partners credited for creating an environment where ‘children feel listened to and secure in their ability to discuss personal and sensitive aspects of their lives.’
All children complete a ‘wellbeing web’ with their class teacher on a termly basis which means every pupil has the opportunity to talk about how they feel in terms of issues such as being safe, healthy, achieving, and included, both in and out of school.
The inspection team said: “The vision, values and aims promote respect in a very inclusive school, which strives to ensure that everyone feels that they are valued and treated fairly.
It added: “Positive relationships, built on mutual respect, are evident between staff and children and the wellbeing of every individual is paramount.”
Head teacher Mhairi McDonald said: “As the head teacher of St Fergus, I have always been proud of our school community. We work together to ensure that our children are given the best possible opportunities in education.
“The Education Scotland report has recognised the whole staff team’s hard work and commitment to our school. I’m delighted that inclusion and that the children’s health and wellbeing is at the forefront of the report because that is what we do daily in St Fergus.”
Education and Children’s Services Convener, Cllr Jim Paterson said: “I’m delighted that Education Scotland has recognised the wonderful work being done at the school by its committed team of staff, led by the head teacher.
“As well the commitment to and valuable work in raising attainment levels, it’s also clear that the health and wellbeing of children is at the very heart of the school with pupil voice playing an important role.
“I am confident that the school will build on this excellent inspection report and continue to provide a fantastic learning environment for all children that will allow them to reach their full potential.”
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