Posts from August 2012

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Russell Brand spreads the word of abstinence-based recovery!

Russell Brand’s long awaited BBC3 documentary, From Addiction to Recovery, aired last night proving to be a massive hit as 500,000 viewers across the UK tuned in.

His message was clear, concise and refreshing – abstinence-based recovery works for addicts. He went further by saying:”giving methadone to addicts is like rearranging the furniture on the Titanic.“ Brand went on to urge people to understand that addiction is an illness to be treated with compassion and altruism. The comedian cleverly used his humour to address serious issues that are often misunderstood across society.

Brand pondered what is the solution to substance misuse? It was apparent through Brand’s investigation that there is not one definitive answer. However, one thing that was clear is that substituting one drug for another does not treat the underlying issues of the people affected.

It seems there is a lot of confusion about how to treat people who are affected by this illness. Prisons without any treatment are useless – they are seen to be punishing people without giving any compassion or solutions to their problems. Methadone is criticised by some for being not only a waste of money but potentially making the problem worse. As Russell put it: ”methadone is like putting a plaster over a broken soul.” The solution therefore is not swapping, maintaining or controlling substances, whether legal or illegal, rather it is abstinence!

Footage of the late Amy Winehouse reinforced the seriousness of addiction and how it can affect anyone, at any age. Aged 27 when she died, Amy was the same age as Russell when he found recovery. Thankfully, Russell managed to grasp a new life without substances by entering a twelve step abstinence-based treatment centre. 

If you would like to find out more about the issues raised in Russell’s documentary, our client, Manchester based Acorn Treatment and Housing, delivers abstinence-based treatment –and can be contacted at


Tagged with: Abstinence-based recovery, Acorn Treatment, BBC3, Manchester, Russell Brand

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What's the value of a university degree?

This time two years ago, I was in the same position as hundreds of thousands of A Level students were yesterday; receiving their A2 results and finding out whether they’ve got into their university of choice.  I remember waiting for my results to come through and the wave of panic that set in when you got handed that dreaded envelope, which at the time, seemed to dictate your entire life’s plans.

Looking back, I realise that in the long run, A Levels are a minor detail in your long term career plans. I’ve just finished my second year of university at Manchester, which, admittedly has been the best two years of my life. Yes, all the stereotypes about university are true; the social life has been fantastic, I’ve learnt so much from my course and the experience has really helped me develop as a person.

But how important is a university degree to make it in the world of work? 

This year is the first year that tuition fees are costing students up to £9,000 per year, and so the value that university adds to a young adult has become an even more essential question to ask when it comes to deciding for or against higher education.

With a drop of 8.7% of students applying  for university courses from last year, many people may feel that the answer seems to be that university is simply ‘not worth’ the extortionate fees that have to be paid.

The rise in tuition fees seems to be the biggest factor for the decrease of university students; but just because you don’t go to university, does this mean that you won’t have a successful career? Most certainly not.

I decided to go to university because it is something that I have always wanted to, but even at the time of applying, I knew that I would have to get practical experience in order to stand a chance in the competitive world of work. Since being at university, I’ve started my role at Refresh PR, which provides the hands on experience that compliments my academic life so well. When it comes down to it, I know that I’m extremely lucky. Since the recession, work placements and internships have dipped dramatically, let alone the potential of a poor student actually getting a job.

One of my colleagues started off doing work experience at Refresh PR, and is now working alongside myself as a PR assistant. We’re both the success stories of giving young people opportunities to show what they can do in the work place; something that many companies don’t offer. 

For those who haven’t chosen to go into higher education, they need opportunities like this in order to get their foot in the door. Apprenticeships in companies and businesses need to be a thing of the present and future, rather than just the past if the young people of today are going to have a shot to have a successful career.

So how important is a university degree?

It depends on what the student gets out of it; coming out with a 2:2 is often thought to make the degree redundant to employers who look for those with a 2:1 or a first. But with 64% of students achieving one of these top two degrees, something needs to set them apart.

The answer to that is most certainly practical experience. Be it an internship, placement, work experience or a job – this is now what employers are looking for. So ultimately, yes, a university degree still has a huge amount of value, but it’s what you do as well as a degree that is the key to success in the world of work.

Tagged with: Manchester, PR, PR Internships, PR Jobs, Students, University, Work Experience

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Refresh PR and Acorn Treatment snags some great coverage!

Acorn Treatment and Refresh PR are ecstatic with the recent coverage in the Greater Manchester Business Week. The four page feature covers Acorn’s amazing furniture store, Restore and ways in which Acorn create employment for people who have completed their treatment. This is a well deserved piece for our clients and we feel privileged to have helped spread the awareness of this life-changing organisation!


Registered charity Acorn Treatment and Housing (formally ADAS) has been a successful treatment provider for over 14 years.  Its first project opened in Stockport in 1997 as a day centre offering treatment to individuals and their families affected by addiction. Since opening, the organisation has treated hundreds of drug and alcohol users and assisted them in achieving abstinence. Its family programme compliments primary treatment and helps relatives cope with the damage that has been caused by addiction.


Acorn Treatment addresses the whole problem whilst recognising addiction as being primarily based in the mind. A team of highly trained counsellors offering a range of professional therapies works with local agencies and the criminal justice system, including Police, Probation and the Prison Service.


The innovative work provided to Prolific Offenders has won National recognition and awards from cross party think tanks such as The Centre for Social Justice. Acorn’s work in providing joined-up treatment both in custody and out in the community has developed real treatment pathways and through-care for drug and alcohol misusing offenders.  For more information visit








Tagged with: Acorn Treatment and Housing, Charity, Drug and Alcohol rehabilitation, Greater Manchester Business Week, Manchester, North West , Stockport

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Celebrity Big Brother - Who wins? You decide...

So, who tuned into Celebrity Big Brother last night? I have to admit it was on my list of guilty pleasures. The reality show, named after George Orwell’s character in 1984, was, as ever, filled with quirky characters and Big Brother secret tasks. From Spandau Ballet to So Solid Crew, this year’s bunch look set to make headlines.

I was happy to see Greater Manchester’s very own Julie Goodyear, aka Bet Lynch, being warmly accepted into the house last night. With her massive northern personality, Julie was instantly put under the spotlight with a secret task, forcing her and Cheryl Fergison to showcase their soap-style acting skills.  Big Brother, as usual, asked the pair to carry out sneaky tasks without being caught. Cheryl, at one point had to cry on MC Harvey’s shoulder claiming that Julie had been dating her ex-boyfriend - Harvey’s face was a picture!

Julie’s larger than life persona is not just created for the TV screens. Her past is impressive and shocking even in comparison with the other celebs. Julie was offered a Lifetime Achievement Award followed by an MBE, making her one of TV’s most loved personalities. After writing her frank autobiography, including stories of her intimate relationships, Julie made headlines by marrying her stalker! Apparently, Julie fell for her hubby after he had been sitting in a tree outside her property looking in.

The rest of the housemate’s have equally eccentric backgrounds with the likes of: Coleen Nolan (another Manchester female) Julian Clary, Rhian Sugden, Jasmine Lennard, and Martin Kemp joining Julie. Celebrity Big Brother’s thirteenth series is set to be as popular as ever with this kooky bunch. Fans however noticed the lack of a certain TOWIE star, Lauren Goodger – where is she? Will Big Brother bring her in at a later date? Stay tuned and find out...

If you want to get people talking about you, contact our Manchester PR Agency on 0161 212 1695.

Tagged with: Big Brother 2012, Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5, Julian Clary, Julie Goodyear, Manchester, Martin Kemp, MC Harvey

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Gary Neville is a red no more - he's a greenie

As reported in the MEN today, Gary Neville has scrapped his plans to power his £8 million ‘Teletubby’ home in the Lancashire countryside with a giant wind turbine. Despite getting approval from the council for the turbine; at 127 foot, neighbours protested that it would become an eyesore. Neville had initially wanted to create the ‘greenest’ house in Britain, and by installing the wind turbine, it would have allowed the property to be completely carbon neutral.


Not wanting to upset his neighbours, Neville has now revoked his plans for the turbine and is now opting for a different ‘eco-system’ to power his green bunker. This ‘eco-system’ will now include a ground source heat pump, sustainable rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic cells, which convert light directly into electricity.


As Refresh PR has clients such as Polypipe Home Solutions and Planitherm Glass which specialise in green products and technology, we appreciate the importance of the former Manchester United captain taking the initiative to make a difference to the environment. Living sustainably and becoming more environmentally aware is becoming a more important aspect of life, and with new government actions such as The Green Deal around the corner, ‘green’ issues are more topical than ever before.


It’s fantastic that Gary Neville is going green, and although the rest of us don’t have millions of pounds to spend on building our dream ‘eco home’; there are still hundreds of options available to those who want to make a difference. Be it installing underfloor heating or rainwater harvesting, which are part of the range by Polypipe Home Solutions to reduce energy and water bills or opting for the UK’s most energy efficient glass, Planitherm – all eco measures will make a difference.

Tagged with: Energy Efficiency, Gary Neville, Green products, Home Interest, Planitherm, Polypipe Home Solutions, Sustainable Living

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Otone Audio's Aporto travel speaker - little system, big noise!

Here at Refresh PR we’ve been working with new, UK based speaker manufacturer Otone Audio for just over eight months now, and it’s fair to say that it’s been a very exciting journey.

From starting off with an initial media tour to show the systems off to some of the top tech magazines in London such as Stuff, What Hi-Fi and T3, to sending numerous samples out to the UKs most influential tech bloggers, to launching the full range at the Gadget Show Live in April, while all the time gaining an enviable social media following, it’s been an amazing few months working with this new UK based consumer electronics brand.

It’s easy to get excited about Otone Audio – the systems look fantastic and sound even better. So far, they’ve had some excellent reviews too, so it’s clear to see that they are very much in demand. The systems really are high performers on both sound and design. I am sure some of Otone’s competitors are now having many sleepless nights with this new UK brand taking on the market!

After hearing about my impending holiday to the Garden Festival, a micro-music festival by a beach in Croatia, the lovely chaps at Otone Audio kindly sent me one of their Aporto travel speaker systems, to make sure I could enjoy music during every step of my trip. 

And I was very pleased when I received the portable speaker system. Especially as Aporto has gone down a storm with the national media contacts that we’ve sent it to so far. Some of the reactions have been brilliant - The Sunday Times and the Sunday Mirror raved about its crispy clear sound quality, Android mag gave it a cool five stars and made it the editor’s pick, and T3 magazine loved its modular design and attention to detail.

And I have to say, these travel speakers quickly impressed me too, even before I turn them on. Light, compact and sleek, Aporto is truly perfect for music on the move. The system slotted nice and neatly into the side compartment of my rucksack, meaning it didn’t take up much space at all.

The system is compatible with smartphones, mp3 players and laptops, all providing they have a standard audio jack connection. I hooked it up to my i-phone immediately and I knew they were both going to get along very well together, and enjoy a close, long lasting friendship!

Aporto’s modular design means the system can take on two forms – keep its three sections securely together and you have what looks and performs like a mini soundbar. Pull each side speaker apart from the middle control section (the retractable cables here are a great feature) and you have a mini 2.1 surround sound system. The sound has surprizing depth and clarity, especially for the reasonable price of £34.99.

The system is powered by batteries, which are included in the pack. It takes three AAA batteries and they seem to last really well (in the user guide, it states that the battery life is around six hours in total). As well including a 3.5mm audio jack to jack lead it also has a USB connection cable so it can connect to any PC or laptop.

On the beach, at the hotel, on a transfer coach, on a big boat sailing through the Adriatic Sea, the Aporto system did me proud and made sure that I enjoyed a plethora of music at maximum impact - from the house and techno beats of Laurent Garnier to the melodic tunes and guitar sounds of the Stone Roses to the soulful vocals of James Brown. It’s surprising how loud Aporto can be turned up for a system of its size, especially as it managed to maintain a well-balanced and non-distorted sound.  I’d say I was suitably blown away by its performance!

The Aporto travel system has totally won me over, and I am a big fan. It’s safe to say that it will definitely be one of my essential travel companions moving forward. I would highly recommend Aporto to anyone who needs a well-designed system that is compact, unique and a high performer on sound.

Tagged with: Otone Audio, Portable Speakers, PR Agency Manchester, Sound System

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Two new faces join the team at Refresh PR

Manchester PR agency, Refresh PR, has welcomed two new members to its expanding team.  Tom Lay and Gemma Cannon both join the city centre agency as senior account executives, working across a number of existing and new trade and consumer accounts.  


Tom joins Refresh PR having previously worked in the built environment sector, and is already an integral part of the B2B team, working with market-leading companies such as Saint-Gobain Glass.  Prior to working in the built environment sector, Tom worked with a number of SME’s providing PR support and launched ‘Bad Hair Day’ in 2009.  The national charity campaign, which raised awareness for the condition alopecia, saw Tom receive celebrity support from Gail Porter and Sky One’s Gladiators, and reached four million people across multiple platforms, including BBC Radio and GMTV.


With more than four years’ agency experience, Gemma Cannon joins with a wealth of knowledge having worked across high profile accounts in the hospitality, catering and sports sectors.   Gemma will focus on the agency’s food and drink and home interest clients as well as ensuring every client reaps the benefits of her vast social media expertise; follow her on Twitter @GemmaC_PR for insights.  Attracted to Refresh PR’s ethos and emphasis on working in a team, Gemma is looking to develop her PR career quickly and has already integrated seamlessly into the team.


Laura Mashiter, the founder of Refresh PR, is delighted with how well the two new team members have settled in: “We met Tom and Gemma and knew they were both a perfect fit.  We knew the agency would benefit from their very different - but equally impressive - knowledge, attitude and enthusiasm.


“Refresh PR has just been shortlisted in the CIPR’s Pride Awards as Outstanding Small Consultancy of the Year, something we’re all very proud of.  To achieve this recognition, and maintain it going forwards, we need great people who buy in to our philosophy of putting our clients at the centre of everything we do.  They’ve both hit the ground running and are going from strength to strength and I’m looking forward to seeing where this team will take us in the coming months and years.”     


Refresh PR is interested in hearing from junior consumer and trade account executives who are interested in a role with the agency.  Visit for more information or call 0161 212 1695.

Tagged with: CIPR , Consumer PR, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, PRide Awards, Public Relations North West, Social Media, Trade PR