The Paisley Disability Resource Centre actively promotes independent living through various leisure, social, educational and employment activities and services. It aims to be a welcoming, supportive and inclusive place, where people come to socialise and network, as well as taking part in activities.
Michael McEwan speaks to Kevin Cantwell, the arts group facilitator at the Centre, as well as a number of people who take part in the activities which include painting, photography and dancing.
Michael Okay, now on Iriss.fm we're going to do a series about "Inside The Resource Centre". A lot of people have got a stigma about people with a disability going to the Resource Centre. What can they do? What are they capable of? Well, in this series we'll prove you wrong. This is part one of two of "Inside The Resource Centre". I went along to Paisley Resource Centre and I interviewed some of the customers going along to the centre, and also some of the people that take part in the arts group. First of all, we're going to hear from arts group. Facilitating the group is Kevin Cantwell. Tell me more about the arts group that you run.
Kevin I've been coming here for maybe about a year and a half, usually on a Wednesday, and it was just to introduce the customers that come to the Resource Centre about how to use different materials, look at different materials. We started off using cardboard and paper and different stuff, introduced them to a glue gun, how to stick it together, it's quite instant. They all quite enjoyed that. We have a lot of good discussions as well, it's not just sit there, draw, paint and everybody sits quiet. Everybody kind of - if they want to talk they can talk, if they don't they don't, but it's usually quite enjoyable as well to sit. I think that's the main thing is to have fun and enjoy it. We wanted to do sculptural stuff, so they all looked about for materials because obviously with having a piece of granite or marble or something like that it's expensive, plus it's a bit hard in health and safety with that. So we ended up we got a breezeblock out of B&Q - nice and soft - they could scrape away at it. So we ended up we made gargoyles that are similar to the ones that are in, you know, taking inspiration from the abbey and stuff like that. Through time you end up though - it's just promoting how to look at things like you don't normally look at, and it's just wee skills like that. I mean, everybody's got skills to do something, even the people who say, "Oh, I can't draw", or, "I can't paint." It's just building their confidence up to do stuff like that.
Kevin Some of them, they're quite happy and they're quite confident and they can just go away and do things, but nowadays, now after being here a year and a half, I suggest really anything and they'll have a go. They weren't maybe so confident before to have a go but now they see that yeah, just have a go, there's no harm in it.
Michael I think you used the word confidence there and I use the word confidence quite a lot, and so, do you find people coming into the arts group at first are very shy and don't want to speak and don't want to draw anything, and then five weeks down the line they're the most chattiest person ever and they paint some good paintings? Do you ever find that with people?
Kevin Well most of the group - they don't really get a lot of new people because of just the way that things are. There's the main art group there, I'd still say we enjoy it. That's the kind of main thing of it. You know it's been a good day when they go, "Oh, is that the time already?"
Kevin "It's like twelve o'clock." I quite enjoy it as well though. It's kind of both ways. It goes both ways. The big lions that were in Paisley, I'd an opportunity to paint a special one to show what I can do as well as an artist, then we brought it in here and actually they showed them the whole process of me planning it out, painting it, and actually the finished thing. So they could get inspiration of how the process works.
Michael So you're like a local artist as well?
Kevin Yeah, I've been a full-time artist for fourteen years.
Michael Do you like your job but also, do you like coming into the Resource Centre to work with the customers in there?
Kevin The main thing - I really enjoy sharing the skills I've got. I'm quite fortunate with I'm kind of multi-skilled and I can use multiple materials. A lot of artists can't. I really, really enjoy passing on skills that I know and just wee tricks that help people along and builds their confidence up.
Billy Hi, my name's Billy Neil, and I come to the DRC twice a week.
Michael Do you like coming here?
Billy Yes I do. It gets me out of the house. It gets me, lets my wife get a bit more time to herself as well, because she cares for me.
Michael And you were saying that you took not well ...?
Billy Yeah. It's a genetic disease.
Michael But how did you cope by being what you would say kind of like able-bodied one minute ...
Billy Yeah, yeah.
Michael ... and then the next minute, boof!
Billy It turned my life upside down. Absolutely upside down. Yeah.
Michael I take it your confidence kind of dipped?
Billy Oh mate, I was down at the bottom of the barrel.
Michael Aye. Yeah. And then when you came to the centre, the Resource Centre ...
Michael ... everything changed?
Billy That's it. I first came to the centre and I got put in the art class. I didn't know I could draw, and they gave me a photograph of an elephant and I drew it, and they were quite happy enough. I surprised myself. I actually surprised myself, and I've done some good stuff. Yeah, I must admit.
Michael So - and you met new people from the centre?
Billy I met new people, yeah.
Billy They're lovely people, yeah. As I say, when I first came I was all for myself.
Billy I didn't want to be in a wheelchair. I didn't want sticks but I had to use the sticks to walk, and I didn't want this and I didn't want that and - but that's all changed now.
Michael I think that's the thing, because you weren't born with a disability and ...
Billy Yeah, that's it.
Michael ... then you got hit with it and stuff like that, maybe that would turn your life kind of upside down?
Billy Oh, it does actually.
Michael But you've got the right support now?
Billy Yes. Yes, I have.
Brenda I'm Brenda. I have been coming to the Disability Resource Centre for coming up for seven years. I have been in photography for seven years - not been thrown out yet! I thoroughly enjoy it. We have done a couple of exhibitions. We do a lot of photography. We enjoy it and we get a lot out of it.
Michael So what made you want to join the photography group?
Brenda That was my hobby when my husband was alive ...
Brenda ... and we used to go out and about and I loved taking photographs, and when the photography group came up at the centre I was allowed to come onto it and I've been there ever since.
Michael And also you're in the magazine group as well?
Brenda I do the magazine group.
Brenda We do a magazine once a month and we just do a note of what's on round about, everything that interests people. We do bits about PIP that are coming up, that people need to know about. We do a list of phone numbers that people will need, and a lot of people keep the page on their fridge so they know who to contact. We do different events, we do fundraising, and we get a lot out of it.
Michael And what's some benefits for you coming to the Resource Centre about meeting new people?
Brenda I think being on my own I think I would be just looking at four walls.
Brenda I wouldn't be out as much. I don't socialise very well and I get a lot out of it and I'd like to think being in the two committees that I've managed to put something back.
Billy My name's Billy White and I'm in the dance group and I just love it. It's brilliant. You just do different performances for every school you go to and anything like that. We put on a performance when we played St George's Cross, played that in Glasgow and that was brilliant as well. We do each school one at a time to different schools, put on different performances. I love it. It's brilliant.