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Guest blog: Exposure to something new and exciting is key for our young people

My name is Martyn Cosh and I am the Head of Mirren Park School in Paisley.

I have been working in education for about fifteen years now and have a keen interest in working with young people that require additional support in order to achieve their potential as a result of having difficult life circumstances, social or emotional difficulties, disruptions to their learning or any other barriers preventing them from achieving and attaining well.

I have lived in Paisley for most of my life and believe that the town can offer so much to so many people.

I am actively involved in local events and I am currently studying at Doctoral level at the University of the West of Scotland.

I am also leading a number of new projects in the town such as a new Trades Skills Centre, a new Escape Room (The Exit Games – the first and only in Renfrewshire. See www.theexitgames.net) and a number of other new services linked to Mirren Park School (www.mirrenpark.org) such as our Community Works Teams.

Mirren Park School moved to Paisley from another local authority area in 2014; I chose the town due to my own links to the local area and my belief that it was the perfect location to serve not only young people from the town, but young people from Renfrewshire and the surrounding local authority areas.

Our school is growing and becoming a leading education provision for many of the most vulnerable and challenging young people in the country.

We are actively engaging our local community; local schools, colleges and businesses are linking with us to give our young people a chance of experiencing success, and to positively contribute to the community around them.

We are building partnerships with organisations such as the Prince’s Trust, St. Mirren Football Club and Young Enterprise Scotland – we are constantly looking for opportunities to improve outcomes and will have full charity status soon.

Although we have a number of sites in and around Renfrewshire, our main school building is based in the heart of Ferguslie Park, an area so often reported as being one of the most socially deprived in Europe.

We have had nothing but positive experiences since moving here and believe that the local people and area in general merely needs continued investment in terms of services being introduced and opportunities being given to the young people and the unemployed.

This is where we are looking to make a difference.

I believe that Paisley and Renfrewshire has a rich cultural history that any individual can benefit from and take pride from being associated with; our young people have enjoyed recent events such as the Pride of Paisley trail (we had our own lion cub ‘Rafferty’ who now guards our main door!), and other opportunities such as music at the Diane Mitchell Music School and workshops from local businesses and groups.

This exposure to ‘something new and exciting’ is key for our young people in engaging with the community around them who can often too readily dismiss young people due to their low self-esteem, challenging behaviour or lack of social acumen.

Having a sense of being included is often all our young people need to flourish and the community as a whole can benefit from their skills, wit and wisdom.

In summary, I believe that the Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid presents us all with a wonderful chance to revive our town and wider areas in general; our young people can feel excited and empowered within their communities, our education establishments can flourish, local businesses can grow and new ones can arrive – we can include everyone in the movement and create a wonderful ‘feel-good’ factor that the town has not had since I was a boy.

Let us be proud of our past and hopeful for our futures – I back the bid!”

Find out how you can get involved here.