A much-loved programme has improved social connection and reduced isolation for dozens of residents in Howwood.

Monthly coffee mornings, organised by Howwood Parish Church and Friends of Howwood Park through the council's Winter Connections programme, bring together around 50 people from the local area.

Gillian Whyte, who helps organise the event at the parish church, said: "It gives people a chance to get together and connect with one another in a warm and welcoming space with hot drinks and home baking.

"The coffee mornings in the village are well attended, and people really enjoy them. Having somewhere local to meet up with other people during the winter months is great for the villagers, especially those who live alone."

The Gazette: Talking about how important it is to the community, Gillian added: "Having a space like this to meet and talk over tea, coffee and home baking helps to reduce isolation and supports people to make friends and keep up connections.”

Funded through the £85,000 Winter Connections Grant Fund, the coffee morning is one of four activities in the local area on the programme.

Gillian said: “The funding from Winter Connections has made the coffee mornings - and all the other events we have organised - possible, and we are very grateful to Renfrewshire Council for giving it to us."

The Gazette: Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, chair of the council’s Fairer Renfrewshire sub-committee had the opportunity to speak with those who attend the monthly event when she paid a recent visit.

She said: "It was lovely to see first-hand how local groups are using the funding to bring people together and help them connect during the winter months when people are usually less able to be active due to the weather.

The Winter Connections programme, now in its second year seeks to help people of all ages throughout Renfrewshire who are struggling by offering events and activities in places that are “inclusive, welcoming, respectful, and safe”.

The activities and events are run by local groups and organisations.

Feedback on the programme has shown that it has created a sense of belonging in the local community for many residents and has also supported new people to come along and join the fun.

Councillor Cameron added: “Community groups and organisations are such an important part of the community and the work they are doing here through the Winter Connections programme is giving people a chance to talk about any issues they are facing in a safe, supportive and non-judgmental environment.”

To see if there are any events taking place in your local area visit the Renfrewshire Council website at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/winter-connections.