Posts from September 2012

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Refresh PR's Anna goes to prison with Acorn Treatment and Steve Baker MP

An MP visited Rochdale’s Buckley Hall Prison this week to experience a slice of prison life and learn more about a rehabilitation program for inmates dealing with addiction problems.  And Refresh PR was there too.   Refresh PR and Steve Baker MP with Acorn Treatment


The prison visit formed part of a wider initiative organised by the Centre for Social Justice called the ‘Inner City Challenge’.  The Inner City Challenge is a two – three-day placement programme for Members of Parliament and other key influencers, providing them with first-hand experience of the vital work carried out by small, effective poverty-fighting organisations.


Steve Baker, the Conservative MP from High Wycombe, is spending three days with registered addiction and rehabilitation charity Acorn Treatment and Housing as part of the scheme.  Acorn is a growing charity working across Greater Manchester and is celebrating 15 years of successfully treating those with addiction problems this year.


The charity, which offers counselling and rehabilitation services in three prisons across the North West has welcomed the MP’s visit as a chance to create more awareness about the challenges the prison and the charity face on a daily basis, and how they are successfully working in unison to improve the lives of its inmates who are struggling with addiction.


Steve met with organisers from Acorn Treatment on Tuesday, and was then transferred to Buckley Hall prison, following in the path of a new inmate.


Upon arrival, Steve was signed in and taken through the prison’s security procedures. He then went on to visit one of the prison wings, where he participated in one of the regular group therapy sessions (RAMP) that Acorn Treatment runs on the prison wing. He listened to inmates talk about their experiences and gained more of an understanding about their motivation to overcome addiction problems and the challenges they face on a daily basis.


Steve also learnt about the care services provided by Penine Care NHS Foundation Trust community and mental health services, who work in partnership with Acorn Treatment and Housing at Buckley Hall. 


After therapy, Steve spent some time in cells across three wings of the prison, where he experienced what it really feels like to be behind bars.


Steve said: “Today was a great experience and I was tremendously impressed by the humanity and care shown by Buckley Hall staff towards prisoners. The prisoners I met during Acorn Treatment’s RAMP group showed a clear determination to transform their lives. I am looking forward to learning how that commitment to abstinence and better social relationship is taken forward once ex-offenders leave prison.”


John Hopkins, CEO at Acorn Treatment said: “We treat hundreds of clients in prisons across Greater Manchester every year, and the work we do with them is vitally important. In many cases, addiction is to blame for the crimes our clients in prison have committed.  Buckley Hall is a class C prison, and the majority of the inmates at the prison are coming to the end of long sentences and are often keen to start a new life. Acorn’s treatment plan supports them during their sentence and also when they leave. The success of the treatment is growing steadily here.”


During the rest of his visit to Acorn Treatment and Housing, Steve will spend two nights and one full day at one of Acorn’s residential housing, taking part in more group therapy sessions and activities with its clients. He will also visit Restore, Acorn’s social enterprise scheme, a furniture store in Stockport where many of its ex-clients now work.


Acorn Treatment and Housing bases its therapy and treatment methods on addressing the problems associated with addiction with an ultimate aim of helping clients achieve abstinence from drugs and alcohol. With treatment centres across Greater Manchester, Acorn Treatment has successfully treated clients from Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Tameside and Manchester. 


Do you or someone you know have a problem with addiction?  Do you want to find out more about Acorn Treatment and Housing?  Call in confidence today on 0161 484 0000.

Tagged with: Manchester, Marketing, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Gary Neville’s tellytubby home gets the green light

Guest blog from Naomi Tan, work experience (17th - 21st Sept 2012)


Despite being given permission for his 127ft wind turbine to be built here in the North West, ex-footballer Gary Neville has scrapped the idea – which should appease his neighbours - and will now use a ground source heat pump, rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic cells (these turn light energy directly into electricity) to keep his house ‘green’.  With clients like Polypipe Home Solutions, this is right up Refresh PR’s street.

Although Mr Neville got rid of the wind turbine his house will still be eco-friendly and he will still be raising awareness, after all he’s a famous footballer. His decision to have an eco-friendly house may encourage other people to do the same, although not to that extent, so his ‘green’ house may help the environment more than he intended as others may be inspired to help too.

Gary Neville’s house will be the first carbon neutral house in the North West. It should now only take four to five months to build, and is smaller than the original plan (therefore takes up a smaller amount of land) it is also on two storeys instead of one. To avoid too much noise and disturbance, Neville plans for a lot of construction to take place off site.  He has also done work previously to help the environment as he is also the co-founder of sustainability in sport (SIS).

Gary Neville’s new plans have had fewer objections since he got rid of the wind turbine idea, so hopefully this updated plan will be successful. He will be speaking at a UK Green Building Council event tonight to give more information about his ‘teletubby house’, so to find out more, you will have to attend on Thursday 20th September!

Tagged with: Built Environment, Construction, Manchester, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Everyone’s heard of climate change, but are we ignoring it?

Guest blog by Naomi Tan, work experience (17th – 21st Sept)


Climate change is caused by many things such as pollution, deforestation, use of fossil fuels etc… Increasing levels of greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun, on earth, and prevent it being reflected back into space. This means the temperatures rise and the polar ice caps melt which leads to rising sea levels (which isn’t good for polar bears) and unfortunately means there could be more rain for Britain.

The ozone layer protects our planet from the sun’s harmful UV rays, however it is being damaged by things such as CFC’s (harmful chemicals which are found in aerosols) and as a result of this, half the ozone in the stratosphere has completely disappeared. To try to stop further damage to the ozone layer some CFCs are replaced with HFCs, however these are greenhouse gases which don’t help at all against climate change. Climate change has a lot of effects such as rising sea levels and change in temperature and weather.

So what are we doing to try and stop climate change? By 2020, 10% of fuel will be biofuel made from plants such as maize or sugarcane. Although this is better for the environment as the fuel is renewable and carbon zero, it also has bad effects for example causing hunger in other countries as the maize is used to fuel cars and not feed people.

Do your bit!

5 Top Tips to help save the planet:

·       Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. Leaving the tap running wastes up to 5 litres a minute. The water is just wasted and then has to be recycled and cleaned before it can go back to your taps. This process uses energy, and electricity which is produced when you burn fossil fuels. Burning these contributes to global warming.  

·       Turn off the lights when you leave a room or get energy saving light bulbs. This will reduce the amount of energy used, so could lower your energy bill significantly.

·       Turn your TV and computer off at night. Putting them on stand-by still uses energy, so if you turn them off at night you will save more energy and up to £30 a year.

·       Only fill the kettle with the amount of water necessary. Boiling the kettle uses a lot of energy, and the more water you put in, the more energy is needed to heat it and make it boil. This means that by only putting in the amount of water you need, you are using the minimum amount of energy required, which means you can save energy and money.

·       Have a quick shower instead of a bath. Having a bath uses on average 80 litres of water whereas a quick shower uses only around 30 litres.

(stats courtesy of Energy Saving Trust)

So, are you doing your bit?

Tagged with: Built Environment, Construction, Home Interest, Lifestyle, Manchester, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West

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Dallas - The nation's new favourite?

It’s time to dust off the stetsons and trumpets! It’s over 30 years since Dallas first appeared on our TV screens and more than 20 since we last saw a TV episode, but it’s got the nation – almost three million of us that is (including our office) - hooked after just one week.


And it’s not just women tuning in to get a glimpse of Patrick Duffy (he’s 63 years young!) and Jesse Metcalfe. Since the first episode in the new series hit our screens via Channel 5 Refresh PR has been out and about networking and – unexpectedly – we’ve spoken to so many men who are proud to admit they tuned in…and loved it! And they said they would be glued to their sets tonight at 9pm when we will see the conniving JR in fine form taking on his brother in the battle for Southfork – just like the old days.


So, just what makes this soap so damn popular?


Dallas represents ‘youth’ for a generation of 30 and 40-something’s, where we somehow managed to illegally tune in without our parents finding out (remember, we didn’t have computers, let alone On Demand. We had four TV channels. But we still succeeded…). For the silver surfer generation, could it be that it simply takes them back with a bucket full of nostalgia to the glorious 80s? Dallas was absolutely crackers and unrealistic in many ways – and far away from our lives - but unmissable at the same time.


Casting Jesse Metcalfe as Bobby’s son Christopher attracts a slightly younger audience too. And it seems that the producers are keen to borrow fans from Desperate Housewives to assist the ratings, as that makes at least three actors who cross both programmes, including John Ross Jnr (Josh Henderson aka Edie’s teenage nephew) and Ann Ewing (Brenda Strong aka Mary Alice, the ‘wives narrator) – a good move we think.



So will this get families tuning in together? It’s a chance for husbands and wives to have an hour together to reminisce about their youth – at a time before they had even met maybe? It certainly set twitter alight with comments and we’ll be watching closely this week at the sentiment online.


So, could this be the kick we all need after an amazing summer of sport? Let’s face it, the Strictly line up is looking good, X Factor’s nearing Boot Camp, but can anything beat Dallas? Let’s hope the series has as strong storyline with as many twists and turns as its 80s counterpart. And please don’t invite me to any networking events post-8pm on Wednesdays. I need an hour to get home, get settled and get a brew. It could get awkward.


A Dynasty come-back anyone?



Tagged with: Home Interest, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Silver Surfers, Twitter

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Horns at the ready, fingers steady – it’s the end of an era as legend Chris Moyles exits Radio One

Chris Moyles: Officially my saviour!


Its 2004, I’ve been in my first ‘real’ job for four years and struggling to get out of bed in the mornings.  Then Chris Moyles arrives on my airwaves.


I do remember breakfasts with Zoe Ball and Sara Cox…vaguely.  I will remember The Chris Moyles Show forever. 


I like Chris Moyles because he has an opinion about everything, and everyone has an opinion about him.  Whether good or bad, he polarises the nation.  I like that.  He’s not afraid to say what he thinks, even if it’s not the popular opinion of the day.  When Refresh PR was established we said we’d stay true to our roots, commit to clients long-term and also be honest with our clients – whether this was the popular thing to do or not.  These values are important to us all, and perhaps that’s why I enjoy the breakfast show so much.  He is definitely honest, northern and frankly, I find him funny. 


I’m not a mornings person, I never will be.  But waking up from a deep sleep to hear Moyles ranting about a lack of pay (I remember cringing at that one), how he needs to go back to bed, his traumas with his trainer at the gym or the footie result the night before really does help me crawl out of my pit.  He gets excited when he meets celebs – he’s just like the rest of us!  And he dares to see how far he can push them.


But it’s how he’s evolved the show over the past eight+ years that’s amazing.  Eight years in the same job is impressive, particularly in the job he’s in.  Truth be told, The Chris Moyles Show has seen me through four jobs, and while they have all shaped my career massively, that’s four jobs that I’ve had while he’s got up week in, week out pre-6am to deliver my morning entertainment.


When he’s off on holiday I find myself resenting his need for a break while watching BBC Breakfast then listening to the iPod on the way to work.  So this Sunday night will mark a milestone in my life as I move my tuning dial on the radio over to Mike and Chelsea on Manchester’s Key 103, which could be a big benefactor of the BBC’s decision to get rid of Moyles here in Manchester.  After all, where are eight million listeners who love the chat show-style broadcast meant to move their allegiance to?  Chris Evans?!?  Or will they stick with Nick Grimshaw, who’s been given the remit of attracting a younger audience to the show (aka the online generation with playlists on Spotify and iTunes that they particularly like to listen to…?).  Ideas below please, what will you be listening to?


No more McFly Day, no more parodies, no more cheesy songs, no more Monday Night Pub Quiz, no more golden hour and I’m not sure Christmas 2012 will be the same without the annual fix of Dominic the Donkey. Perhaps the only good things is that I may be able to judge the time of the morning from on-time news bulletins from now on – and maybe make my early train.


If I had to pick one moment, my outstanding memory is the radio marathon show for Comic Relief.  An absolute epic, raising well over £2m for charity and producing some must see red button TV.   I’m sure that even after 52 hours he didn’t want to get off air.  And that’s what will make Friday’s show tough.  Fearne Cotton will have the onerous task of shutting him off our airwaves indefinitely.  Good, some may say.  For me, I need him (in fact the TEAM) back on air.  I’m following on twitter @chrismoylesshow (he cleverly kept his own feed when the BBC started to push @BBCR1), liking on Facebook, and I’m waiting with baited breath for some announcement…


I’m sure he’ll be great in Jesus Christ Superstar, but Chris & Co need to get back to doing what they are brilliant at: entertaining a waking nation.  Whatever station, I don’t care.  Please!!  


Tagged with: Celebrity, Comic Relief, Facebook, Manchester, PR, PR Agency Manchester, PR Manchester, Public Relations, Public Relations North West, Radio campaign, Twitter