Groups connected with the refurbishment of Paisley Museum are celebrating today after picking up an honour at the Smiley Charity Film Awards in London. Kairos Women+ worked with film-makers Media Co-op and staff from OneRen to develop a short film which will be part of a story display in the world-class museum.

The two-minute film, created by members of Kairos Women+, is about Molly Mercer, a Paisley-based co-op activist, women’s rights campaigner who fought for equality in the early 1900s. It picked up Bronze in the People’s Choice category at a red-carpet event at the Odeon in London’s Leicester Square.

Annie Tothill, Project Manager at Kairos Women+, said: “We’re so chuffed to have won this award. We put a callout to our community for anyone interested in co-producing a story for the museum project. A dedicated team of volunteers formed, developing research and storytelling skills, uncovering the story of Molly Mercer and the Scottish Cooperative Women’s Guild, and using their creativity to write text for the objects chosen for display and to produce a stop-motion animation as part of the exhibition. These were a group of ordinary women+ from Renfrewshire learning and sharing the lives of ordinary women+ involved in campaigning for social change 100 years ago!”

The £45 million refurbishment of Paisley Museum is Scotland’s biggest cultural heritage project. The team behind the refurbishment are committed to building a world-class museum, which reflects and is inspired by today’s communities. Part of that work includes the co-production of story displays with various community groups based in Paisley, Renfrewshire and further beyond.

Molly Mercer joined the Scottish Co-operative Women’s Guild and fought for better working conditions, education, housing rights and votes for women. They organised and recruited hundreds of women to the cause, affecting real changes.

Annie added: “As it says in the film, Molly Mercer teaches us that when you stand up for what you believe in, you can make a difference. Her story and the story of the Guild gives us hope and encourages us to never stop fighting for equality for all women+.”

Photo: Women from Kairos a group during the production of the film

Lucinda Broadbent from Media Co-op, added: “We hugely enjoyed working with KairosWomen+. We were blown away by the creativity and vividness of their ideas for both the script and the visuals of their animation. The dedication and determination of the women and non-binary people who take part in Kairos Women+ activities is outstanding. We are moved and inspired to see first-hand how principles of co-production and inclusivity are fully put into practice in everything they do.

“Molly Mercer’s story is entirely relevant to audiences today. Women campaigners today build on the foundations of women’s struggles in the past. The Kairos group put it best in the script of their animation, by saying ‘what we’ve learned from history is that when we work together, we can make a difference’.”

Paul Cameron, Digital and New Media Manager at OneRen, said: “We’re thrilled that this fantastic work has been recognised with an award at the Smiley Charity Film Awards. Our museum is a place which welcomes everyone and has equality at its heart. The making of this film is testament to that commitment to co-production and inclusivity and we’re delighted that the wider public voted to endorse that. I’m grateful to all of the OneRen team who were involved and, of course, chuffed for Media Co-op and the outstanding volunteers and staff at Kairos Women+.”

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Renfrewshire Council’s cultural spokesperson and chair of OneRen, said: “I’m delighted to see such fantastic recognition for KairosWomen+ and for the work that we are doing to create inspiring, co-produced displays for the refurbished Museum – and it’s great to see this being celebrated already. Our significant investment in culture and our cultural buildings is transformational for Paisley and Renfrewshire and at the heart of it is a Museum that we can all be proud of and excited to visit.”

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