Thankfully, we now seem to be moving into the early days of spring.

With this in mind, I took the opportunity on a beautiful but chilly February morning to meet up with Anwar Rafiq and some members of the Neilston Well Walks group to go for a stroll.

The group was launched at the end of October, following the success of a similar initiative in Barrhead, and members now meet outside The Bank community cafe, in Neilston’s Main Street, at noon every Thursday, regardless of the weather.

The gatherings are open to everyone, regardless of walking experience, and generally last for around an hour-and-a-half before those taking part grab a quick post-stroll coffee.

It was easy to see how these walks give those taking part an opportunity to get out and about in their local area, exercise at their own pace and boost their physical and mental wellbeing.

I was very pleased to hear from the members that the group’s activities have had such a positive impact on their lives – and the hot coffees kindly provided by Coffee Roasters Scotland helped to keep the cold at bay along the way.

Taking part also gave me an opportunity to get in some much-needed practice ahead of the upcoming Kiltwalk, which takes place next month.

I have signed up with some of my constituency staff to take part in this charity event to raise funds for the Homeless Veterans Project.

Donna Armstrong, who is the project’s vice-chair, has been working hard to put a team of volunteers together.

I am delighted to be taking part and to be able to show my support for this very worthwhile cause.

As soon as the ‘JustGiving’ links are available, I will share these on my social media channels.

In other news, the Scottish Government issued the first Winter Heating Payments to people on low incomes last week.

This programme replaces the Department for Work and Pensions’ Cold Weather Payment scheme in Scotland and provides a guaranteed £50 annual payment which is not dependent on sustained low temperatures in your postcode area.

Around 400,000 people across Scotland, including many here in the Barrhead area, will benefit from this payment.

Those eligible for the Winter Heating Payment will receive it automatically, with no need to apply.

It is paid through Social Security Scotland and you will be notified by letter if you are eligible.

The Winter Heating Payment is the 13th benefit to be administered by Social Security Scotland.

This range of benefits, which also includes the game-changing Scottish Child Payment, not only help to mitigate the effects of damaging UK Government policy but also allows us to take positive steps to support the most vulnerable members of our society and help them out of poverty.

As always, my constituency office staff and I stand ready to assist with any enquiries from residents in Renfrewshire South.

If you have an issue you would like to raise or we can help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01505 331990.

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