This week, we have awarded the first round of grants to local community groups through the new Community Empowerment Fund.

My SNP administration created this £1.5million fund to support all groups who want to take over the ownership and running of a building or piece of land in their local area.

We want to reach as diverse a range of community voices as possible and welcome interest from groups old and new who are nurturing an idea which will have a positive impact on their local communities.

The next round of applications are due by Friday, September 14, so don’t delay – call 0141 618 7408 or visit our website.

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This fund is one of a series of steps we are taking to empower our communities, change the relationship between council and community and give Renfrewshire residents a greater say.

There are further funds coming soon to bolster our villages and make the most of our green spaces and we are working across political boundaries to make local decision-making more accessible. Watch this space for all the details and do get in touch if you want to play your part in shaping a thriving Renfrewshire.

On a different note, it was an important time for many parents last week as the schools returned from their summer break.

Having spent many a year getting my kids up and off to school, I know only too well how tricky it can be, so when I heard about Karen Rodger’s story in last week’s Gazette, with her third set of twins starting at Langbank Primary, I have nothing but respect!

The Gazette:

Karen Rodger with twins Rowan and Isla 

It can be an emotional time but Karen and all families can take pride in the high-quality education on offer in Renfrewshire.

Exam results across the region were excellent, with an increase in secondary five pupils achieving five or more Highers and secondary four pupils achieving three or more National 5s.

We’ve just welcomed 100 new probationary teachers to our primary and secondary schools and wish them well as they join our own talented teachers helping pupils to achieve their ambitions, regardless of their background.

It was also fantastic to see so many people in Johnstone earlier this month enjoying the annual Fire Engine Rally. No child – or adult for that matter – can resist the chance to climb on board and see the fire engines up close.

And well done to everyone who peched, puffed or sprinted their way round the Paisley 10K. The event always proves popular.

After a great summer of galas and community events, there’s lots more on the horizon. Don’t miss Doors Open Days on Saturday, September 8, and Sunday, September 9.

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Then, on Friday, September 14, Active Communities are hosting ‘100 Voices of Inspiring Women’ at Johnstone Town Hall.

And, in October, the Spree returns to Paisley, complete with Motown legend Martha Reeves and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.

Find out more about all the different events at