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Nil By Mouth’s ‘Buddies’ programme was piloted by bringing pupils together from two Paisley primary schools. Young people from West and St Mary’s primaries worked on a range of activities exploring the history of their town and its different cultural traditions.

The ‘Buddies’ programme began in April 2017 thanks to funding support from the Renfrewshire Culture, Heritage and Events Fund and to allow pupils to learn about different religions and cultures in conjunction with Nil By Mouth.


Over the course of three months the schools worked together on a range of educational workshops and fun activities focusing on how they can build bridges higher than walls to celebrate both their different cultures and shared experiences.

The programme began with Nil by Mouth Education Officer, Jamie Lithgow, delivering a series of workshops aimed at better identifying and understanding difference, stereotyping and sectarian behaviour. Pupils then worked with the Paisley 2021 City of Culture Bid Team to learn more about the history of Paisley and the achievements of its people with staff from Renfrewshire Leisure.

In May, celebrated photographer Alan McCredie visited the schools to deliver special photographic workshops giving pupils a few ‘tricks of the trade’. Pupils were then set a special challenge to hit the streets of Paisley to capture images of what being a ‘Buddie’ means to them in support of the ‘Paisley 2021’ UK City of Culture bid.


The winning entry, by West PS pupil Lee McCrimmon was unveiled at an event in June at the 2021 Stadium which also saw pupils given a tour of the ground by St Mirren CEO Tony Fitzpatrick to find out more about the town’s rich sporting heritage.

Nil By Mouth hope to work together with West and St Mary’s this coming year as their partnership grows. We also look forward to trialling the ‘Buddies’ programme in other areas.


Karla Berry from the Ruby Trust presents pupils from West & St Mary’s Primary Schools with their Champions for Change awards after working together on the Buddies programme


Pupils from West and St Mary’s show their artistic side


The winning competition entry; ‘Paisley At Night’ by West Primary School Pupil Lee McCrimmon

  • Lasting friendships forged

  • Understanding of shared history within local area

  • Gained photography skills from professional photographer

  • Better understanding of cultural stereotypes

  • How to identify and stamp out sectarianism

  • Partnership established between schools

  • Creation of legacy project which can be continued and expanded each year

  • Links made towards sharing of resources

  • Engaged via photography competition

  • Winning photograph used in campaign throughout Paisley

  • Renfrewshire Culture, Heritage and Events Fund 

  • Paisley 2021

  • Renfrewshire Leisure

  • St Mirren Football Club

  • The Ruby Trust

  • West Primary School

  • St Mary's Primary School


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