LEISURE bosses in Renfrewshire are set to splash out £40,000 on a new libraries project to tackle loneliness and improve mental health.

The Scottish Government has handed Renfrewshire Leisure a grant from the £1.25million Public Library Covid Relief Fund, which aims to support innovative projects in deprived communities.

The cash will be used to fund an initiative that will encourage people out of their homes and into libraries, where they can socialise and enjoy the company of others.

Renfrewshire Leisure has said it will work with other agencies to identify people most at risk of social isolation in different communities and create opportunities for them in libraries.

A chunk of the money will fund the appointment of a part-time coordinator, who will help deliver a new programme of arts-based activities, and a new library-based artist in residence.

Joyce Higgins, digital and library development manager at Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “We are incredibly proud of the wide and impactful work done by our libraries team, never more so than during the coronavirus pandemic, during which they have not only delivered terrific online programmes but have ensured all 12 of our libraries have been open when restrictions have allowed.

“Much of that has helped tackle loneliness at a time when restrictions placed increased numbers at greater risk of this but we know this is an ongoing issue in our communities and are keen to do more.

“Given the way in which Covid-19 has affected all of our lives, everyone can appreciate the positive difference that being able to meet people can make.

“This support from the Scottish Government will allow us to reach those in danger and take action to improve their mental health and wellbeing through what will be enjoyable and engaging activities.”