With eyes completely open…But nervous all the same…

By george it’s chilly! – but very pretty in #Paisley2021


I was thinking this week about the ways we now take in our ‘TV’ rations which have changed so much in the last few years due to the advent of digital streaming.  Online entertainment providers are now spending multi-millions on content that perhaps may end up being viewed mostly on hand held devices – cinematic productions which may never get the benefit of the truly ‘big screen’.

I like going to the movies – still find it a thrill – and I remember taking my son to the ‘pictures’ for the very first time. I had booked our cinema tickets online and just as well. The car park was busy to bursting but we managed to park kind of close to the front doors and with a minimum amount of fuss from the occupants of the car we dashed inside. It was a typical summer’s day in Scotland and the rain was bouncing on the bonnet of the car and the pavements alike.  In the centre of the foyer there was an almighty queue for tickets, hotdogs and nachos which snaked back and forth across the red carpeted entrances to the 12 screens. Our show was on in Screen 6 which like the car park before was rammed with parents, grandparents, carers and weans.

It seemed like we had got the last two seats that were available together. I took off my son’s coat off and propped him up on the seat which immediately folded back leaving my lad shaped like a capital ‘V’. He recovered to perch himself on the edge of the seat – avoiding the flip up conundrum – and seemed to enjoy the rest of the experience.

As I say it was a first for my son and I was aware that I watched him more than I did the screen for the first hour or so. Essentially throughout the duration of the film I was waiting on him to be scared or upset by something – the sheer size of the screen, the volume of noise, the darkness – but it never came. ‘Maybe’ I thought to myself while the cartoon characters on screen escaped from yet another scrape ‘he’s been desensitized by the 24hr illuminated world in which we live and through repeated exposure to challenging media stimuli he can no longer experience the shock of the new…’ or maybe it’s because most of the homes he had visited had large screen plasma televisions mounted on the walls of their front rooms and sound systems to match.

I remember him visiting my brother’s house the day that a new 50 or so inch plasma had been installed. My boy who was about one year old then and hadn’t been walking long was fascinated by this thing. It had been hung low so it was just a perfect height for him to stand directly in front of. His face was a picture as he stood staring slack-jawed in amazement at this huge liquid colour filled box that was alive with Disney cartoons, Sponge Bob and Scooby Doo. Fantastic picture quality, built in blu-ray DVD, hi-fi sound and High Definition chocolate buttons smeared across the pristine plasma screen…


I think we all know within the Third Sector that adapting to digital ways of working is challenging but there is an argument that if we don’t adapt we will struggle to remain as successful as we know we can be – the article – ‘Go digital or die’ from the TFN is worth a read and can be seen here:


Zoe Amar’s blog ‘What can we learn from the Scottish voluntary sector’s Digital Call to Action?’ is a good read – be careful though – it features a picture of yours truly…


‘Stories, Stones & Bones’

We are holding a Funding Spotlight Session on the 8th December 2016 covering Heritage Lottery’s Fund ‘Stories, Stones & Bones’ – see here for details: http://bit.ly/2gfY3z8

Paisley 2021 – Pledge Deadline 15 Jan 2017

And of course – as I sign off I remind you that there’s still time to pledge your support for Paisley 2021 – see here: http://bit.ly/2gfYERF

Good luck to all – speak soon



Then the door was open and the wind appeared, The candles blew then disappeared…


It’s Halloween – what costume do you remember wearing as a bairn? One year I remember being dressed as an ‘OXO’ cube (big box, big hole at the top for your head, wee holes at side for arms, write ‘OXO’ on it…) and I remember my mate being dressed as 1970’s American private detective ‘Frank Cannon’ – happy days! Yesterday in my local supermarket the employees where getting in on the action – a few pirates and a couple of ghosts – fair doos – there was however one enthusiastic member of the crew in the fruit & veg aisle dressed as a mutilated zombie with gore oozing from his ear – not the sort of thing you expect to come across when trying to buy carrots.  It’s all zombies these days… (cue the Hovis tune…).

As you can probably tell from my ‘OXO’ costume story, back in my distant past it was all about doing things cheap – and if you could do it for free all the better. In the days when I used to manage a Design and Print Youth Training Scheme we would beg and borrow from anybody who was willing to give, give, give in a ‘charitee’ style.  Like Dickensian characters dressed in punk rock clothing we would call at the door of any local business within walking distance of our workshop. Once there we would stand with our mitts out like St Francis of Assisi asking ‘Please Sir, can I have some more…of your card, paint, old mosaic tiles, brushes, glue, paper or spare sticky back plastic?’ Anything free was a suitable material. This was in the days before massive mega DIY stores had sprung up on every available retail outlet and your local ironmonger was usually more than willing to give you any job lot of old junk that was cluttering up his warehouse or back cupboard. For free. Yippee!

I remember one load of distinctly old off-white card that we got for nothing being described to one of our unsuspecting customers as ‘ivory’ and if he wanted his posters printed on the ‘ivory’ it would be a fiver more than ‘normal’ white…

One time we got a load of square Perspex plastic panels given to us from somewhere. Each square was about the size of an LP (that’s a 12” record album by the way) and was perfectly clean. Quite inspiring actually. What I decide to do was print simple logos – Indian symbols, peace logos, celtic knots – on six or so. I then sandwiched two panels together (one with a logo and one clear) with a mixture of coloured inks between the two panels. This left you with six multi-coloured panels that I intended to link together and create a hanging installation for our Training Scheme’s up and coming annual exhibition.

I was working on my hanging work of art one day when a friend of mine – to protect the innocent let’s call him ‘Bob’ – popped in to see me.

‘What’s that?’ says Bob picking up one of the multi coloured panels. ‘It’s something I’m building’ I say. ‘It’s a hanging decoration. A mobile’

‘A whit?’ he says. ‘A mobile’ I say repeating myself. ‘Whit’s a mobile?’ I look at him and I start to think how best to get this across in the simplest of terms. ‘Well…it’s…it’s a colourful thing that…it’s something you hang up and it moves…it’s something colourful that you’d normally see hanging in a baby’s or a wee toddler’s bedroom. It’s a mobile.’

He thinks for a minute and then says… ‘Aww!  You mean a lampshade.’

 Year of the Dad: Digital Fun Day!

Don’t forget if you’re looking for new ideas for ‘digital’ ways to play, Engage Renfrewshire have teamed up with Fathers Network Scotland to bring you a FREE digital fun day on 5 November between 11:00-14:00 in St. Ninian’s Church, Paisley. There will be plenty of digital activities to keep you and the kids entertained. You can explore augmented reality where cyberspace meets the real world, lose yourself entirely in virtual reality, get active with the Wii or try your hand at basic coding in the Coding Dojo. For further information or to book a place contact Lauren at Engage Renfrewshire – 0141 887 7707. Or you can use the link here – Digital Event!

I’ve always loved ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe and it’s especially haunting at this time of year:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—Only this and nothing more.”

…Just remember that the ‘rapping at your chamber door’ tonight will probably be the local zombies in search of sugar…It’s all zombies these days…

Don’t let the spooks get yae – Ta Ta!


I’d have the world around, To see just whatever happens…

In 1981 the brilliant Kraftwerk included the song ‘Computer Love’ on their ‘Computer World’ album. The song includes the line (translated from German) ‘Stare at the (TV) screen, I don’t know what to do…’ On Saturday I went along to celebrate my eldest brother’s birthday – a milestone one, by the way – and he was suggesting that while he was delighted with the new android tablet he had received as a gift other than switching it on he wasn’t that sure what else to do with it… he did note that his grandaughter (who is 5) would help him…Even in 1981, Kraftwerk new that the world around us was changing profoundly and that digital networks would impact on the way that people work, live and play.

There is a stereotypical view that older people are not interested in new technology or that they are not able to ‘catch up’ but there is in fact a growing awareness among all sections of the community around the benefits and importance of digital engagement. Locally therefore we need to remain committed to digital participation and inclusion – with the needs of local people at the core.

A week ago we had our first Renfrewshire One Digital Event at Johnstone Town Hall. Presentations from David Amos, Head of Policy and Commissioning from Renfrewshire Council, Maddie Stark, One Digital Development Officer from SCVO Digital and Darran Gillan, Youth Work Manager from Paisley YMCA were warmly received by the 50 delegates in attendance.

A presentation on the value of Social Media to local organisations – ‘One Digital in Action’ – by Volunteers (Billy Pollock and Zoe Rice) from the ‘Environmental Training Team’ demonstrated how digital engagement can quickly become a key resource for local people.

John Turley, Development Manager at SITE Scotland (http://www.sitescotland.org/) gave a wide demonstration using tools and aids that described brilliantly why those managing digital support mechanisms need to work to remove barriers, create solutions and expand possibilities so people with sight loss can achieve their full digital potential.

A successful event I would suggest – check out Beth Murphy’s (@Betty_Murphy) Storify which covers the day here: https://storify.com/Betty_Murphy/one-digital-and-digiren?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=email&utm_medium=email


Maddie @StarkMadelaine from SCVO ‘Backing the Bid’ #Paisley2021 by wearing the badge!

Paisley 2021  

As always the Team at STAR have been busy backing the ‘Paisley 2021’ bid – in fact this week saw the PREMIERE! of their ‘Back The Bid Vid!‘.. If you feel inspired please share your ‘Back the Bid Vid!’ on all platforms using #Paisley2021 .

Take care – speak soon.


And at the fall of night – This city’s made of lights

Ah the wonders of digital…

Next week our fourth #DigiRen meeting will take place. What’s that you may ask… Well, it’s an event aimed at sharing digital ideas and practice with the aim of promoting digital participation in Renfrewshire. At each meeting we have some great guest speakers and this time on the agenda is @lauren_gilmour1  & @sparkybrain . Lauren & Paul have been working had across Renfrewshire during the last few months to promote all things @Digi_ren –  including the promotion and recruitment of digital volunteers – see DigiRen Volunteering . Encouraging people to get online can be difficult and we’re aware that sometimes digital exclusion can be linked to economical exclusion. Lauren & Paul are looking to help local people benefit from going online – and the more willing volunteers they can attract the better. If you’re keen to help or just want to know more tweet them.


If you’re in Paisley at any time over the next few weeks you’re bound to bump into the ‘Pride’ – fantastic multi-coloured lions that have popped up all over the centre of town if you want to know more check out Pride of Paisley . You’ll love them…


A few wee bits and pieces for note…

If you’re involved with Youth organisations the link below will be of interest – ‘Roshni’ have developed, with the Scottish Government’s support, a series of courses aimed at Youth Workers and Volunteers working throughout Scotland to develop their knowledge and skills when working with young people from Minority Ethnic Communities. Click here: http://www.engagerenfrewshire.com/content/resources/Roshni_Free_Training_for_Youth_Workers.pdf

Our good friends at @ramh_scotland are looking for your support with their bike ride – Get on your bike and ride! : http://www.engagerenfrewshire.com/content/resources/RAMH_-_Bike_or_Hike_for_mental_health.pdf

And finally – Funding – As part of the Scotland-wide celebrations of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, the Heritage Lottery fund is looking to inspire people to get involved in learning about and enjoying their heritage for the first time. A good one for all those working around the @Paisley2021 bid: http://www.engagerenfrewshire.com/content/resources/Heritage_Lottery_Fund_-_Year_of_History_Heritage_and_Archaeology_2017.pdf

Speak soon – all the best




It’s good to hear your voice, you know it’s been so long…

Renfrewshire’s digital communities leading the way on Paisley 2021

Communities are what make places great. It is people that bring streets to life, that make things happen and change how we do things.

So it is Paisley’s people that are the catalyst for the town’s regeneration. So far, we’ve held two community planning conferences on Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. Both events were great ways for people to feed into the bid as well as finding out about the social and economic benefits for Renfrewshire that can come out of bidding.  We’ve also held smaller community led “Have Your Say” events where discussion around Paisley’s bid was also extremely positive.

There are some great ideas in Paisley about how we can transform the town for the people and attract tourism and investment. We have some great grassroots cultural and community organisations, and Paisley 2021 is a time to put a spotlight on them. Showcasing Paisley and Renfrewshire’s diversity is key – it’s about involving older and younger people, people in poverty, with disabilities, of varying religious beliefs and sexual orientation. Renfrewshire has a wealth of ethnically diverse people and that’s key to our success.

Paisley 2021 will build on the fantastic platforms for engagement already operating across Renfrewshire – including our Third Sector Network with over 360 members, Renfrewshire’s Volunteer Managers Forum and our local Social Enterprise sector. We also have examples of nationally celebrated best practice to draw on – Street Stuff for example – which engages young people in a range of sports and cultural activities including football sessions, on-line gaming and ‘Street Stuff Dance’. The fast emerging plans for wider engagement around Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 are exciting and – more importantly – they look like fun! Watch this space!

The bid is closely linked to other local strategies such as the Tackling Poverty agenda, emerging health and social care approaches, and the digital strategy for community participation. Digital engagement is definitely one of the key themes and everybody should have the opportunity to reach their digital potential. If you’re not sure how to use all the fantastic resources that are available to promote the bid get in touch – help is available! We are looking to organise training for local organisations and individuals who want to promote Paisley 2021 so we hope to hear from you. Creatively using social media is vital to develop the widest and best community engagement on Paisley 2021, ultimately delivering a digitally connected cultural community.  If you’re just starting off on your ‘tweeting’ journey here are some key ‘2021’ folk to follow – tweet us – we’ll tweet back!











Hopefully speak soon.



That’s what it’s all about…see…

I’m at the Town Hall in Paisley today for the first of the Paisley 2021 cultural weekends – February 20th & 21st – 2021 – see? – pretty clever. Fantastic morning and into the afternoon. Right now I’m participating in a workshop with local cultural champions – hearing some great stories relating to what people are achieving within the cultural sector and what opportunities the City of Culture bid may bring.

Jean Cameron, the bid Director has been making sure everyone gets to know everyone else…

Not that we need much encouragement – a lot of connecting going on. Jean has made sure that while its been a fun morning she has reminded us all that it’s a competition and we have a lot of work to do. Again no one seems to be shirking away from that – in fact at the table I’m at it’s being embraced. We’re talking now about what is world class about Paisley and Renfrewshire. Although there are great suggestions – manufacturing, fashion, buildings, – I can’t get away from the thought that it’s the people that are the fuel of the bid – a fact confirmed by the energy here today.

A lot of chat around the table regards the perceptions attached to Paisley – and we all agree  that collectively part of our repsonsibilities for driving the bid forward is to talk positively – something again that at my table at least hasn’t been a difficulty at all! 

Just about to listen to all of the feedback from the other tables – so I’ll finish – but it’s been a great start to a range of early local coversations on the bid. If you can get along to the next one it will be great to see and hear from you. Bring your dancing shoes – Jean’s keen on the dancin’!

All the best


Well I’m moving down that line. And it’s been so long, But I will be there…

Santa’s on his way! Good tidings to you and your kin. 

 Paisley is bidding for UK City of Culture 2021 – and everybody in Paisley is invited to be part of it.
The bid is taking place as part of a wider push to use heritage and cultural assets to transform Paisley’s future. 

It will aim to take the town’s unique story as the home of the Paisley Pattern and the one-time centre of a global industry and retell it to the world. A successful bid would mean a transformation for the town – a year of major national events, which would put the town in the international spotlight, attract tourism, create jobs, generate town centre footfall, and help build a new sense of pride in Paisley. The bid was launched in November with an event in Paisley Abbey which helped achieve widespread publicity, and over the next 18 months the bid team will be pulling together a bid which showcases everything Paisley has to offer. But they can’t do that alone. If Paisley is to win the title, it needs the whole community to help shape the bid and make it unique to us.

 We have a well-established Creative Network in Renfrewshire and the members of that group will be working hard to support the bid, but we hope all community organisations and local forums see the Paisley 2021 bid as something they can get involved in.

 We are looking for representatives of all local groups to join us in supporting the community engagement part of the bid – and that support can be everything from simply pledging your support or even hosting events which promote the objectives of the bid. 

 If you would like to get informed or get involved, please reply to info@engagerenfrewshire.com letting us know. We will be looking at dates in the New Year to hold a large get-together to see what’s possible and the best way forward. We expect social media and on-line engagement to be a big part of this approach so even if you’re unable to attend we’d still love to hear from you.

 You can find out more about the bid at the new website at http://www.paisley2021.co.uk

 You can also keep up to date on Facebook (/paisley2021) and Twitter (@Paisley2021) and even show your support by using #Paisley2021

 We look forward to hearing from you!

Here’s to a wonderful festive season – all the best.