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
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

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.

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

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said:

‘We are delighted to have funded this project through Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, which was designed to widen the number of people involved in cultural activity in the period surrounding the Paisley 2021 bid. One of the key aims of the fund is to widen opportunities for the local community to enjoy the benefits of culture and to see how that fits into their everyday lives. This was a great project which encouraged young people to seek out what makes their immediate surroundings special – and a look at the winning entries shows we have some real photography talent in our schools.’

Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said:

‘This project has been a joy from start to finish and it’s been amazing watching the pupils forge new friendships and celebrate all that they have in common. Our work at Nil by Mouth is all about bringing people together and through ‘Buddies’ we have seen them explore the town, spaces and experiences that they share. It’s also clear they have a great deal of pride in their town and the enthusiasm they have for the 2021 bid is infectious. They want to let the world know that Paisley is a special place and many of their photography really captures the essence and spirit of the place. Everyone involved with our charity is 100% behind the bid, because we know that Paisley’s got talent!’

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

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Project Outcomes


  • 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


Key Partners

  • 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




Nil By Mouth currently offer their services free of charge. However, should you wish to donate to the charity you can do so by clicking the ‘Donate’ button or contact us directly. Donations we receive will enable us to deliver in schools, colleges, universities and workplaces without cost for as long as possible.

Thank You.