Schools play a massive part in our communities.

As a new councillor I have been particularly impressed in the short time since the elections with the huge amount of extra-curricular activities already undertaken by school staff, parents, and volunteers.

These deliver a vast range of activities for youngsters, from a very successful sports programme run by West Dunbartonshire Leisure’s Active Schools and Sports Development teams, to after school clubs encouraging languages, computing, dance, drama, Duke of Edinburgh Awards and so much more.

There are also numerous community councils, tenants and residents' associations, community garden groups, development trusts and many others I could go on about, but the list would be far longer than this column!

And so it is with this theme of community participation in mind that I appeal to you, my fellow residents, to please play a part.

Too many of us will watch from the sidelines, pass comment on social media, or share a complaint with friends and family after the fact.

The SNP administration is committed to West Dunbartonshire being a listening council, so please give us something to listen to.

We are planning a meaningful consultation on how to meet the council’s budget; however, consultation only gets us halfway there. Just imagine a budget set with the entire community’s participation.

There are almost 90,000 people in West Dunbartonshire and only 22 councillors; we are heavily outnumbered, and we need you to help make that budget happen.

Join any one of the groups I mentioned above and find out what is going on in your area.

Share your priorities and concerns, identify any problems, develop actions, and absolutely follow them through. Then celebrate YOUR community’s successes. It feels far better than seeing things you may not like happen from a distance, without having your say.

Even if you can’t find the time to pledge to an established group, you can contact your local ward councillors directly.

Some of your councillors have their own facebook pages, including myself, while some will use their political group pages online.

Most councillors hold surgeries where you can meet us face to face, and all have council email addresses and phone numbers. We are ready and waiting to hear from you, so go ahead – be heard.