Counter Context welcomes talented trio

Counter Context has boosted its team of communications, engagement and politics specialists this autumn, appointing three talented graduates.

The Sheffield based communications and public affairs company welcomed new account executives, James Senior and Matthew Addy in September. They were joined last month by a third account executive, Christof Turzynski, who had previously been on a work placement at the city council’s economic development agency, Creative Sheffield.

Both Christof and Matthew have recently completed Masters degrees in International Business at the University of Sheffield and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, respectively. This learning and insight into national and global affairs will be applied to their roles at Counter Context, where political and media analysis and advice are significant parts of the company’s remit.

James, who studied History and Political Science at Trinity College Dublin, brings a specialist understanding of sustainability and environmental issues, having lobbied his own university to divest its fossil fuel investments. He will be using this knowledge and experience to support the range of renewable energy developments in Counter Context’s portfolio, including solar farms and offshore wind farm developments.

Counter Context has a strong reputation for attracting and retaining the region’s top graduates, owing to its specialist and high-profile work within the built environment sectors. This includes transport networks, property development and energy infrastructure. Account Director Harriet Knowles, comments:

“We are delighted to welcome Matthew, James and Christof to Counter Context. As the only company born and bred in Sheffield with our specialism and levels of expertise, we think it’s important to attract and maintain talented people in our city. Our trio of new recruits are politically astute and understand why this is so important in the world we live in today. From Brexit, to devolution, to climate change, our job is to understand and contextualise these movements for our clients to help them achieve project success.

“The appointments come at a very exciting time. We have recently secured several new contracts across the renewable energy, education and transport sectors and we can’t wait to see our new account executives get stuck into these projects, bringing a huge amount of knowledge and insight to our clients.”

Why we’re supporting Museums Sheffield’s Big Give Christmas Challenge

May Lester, Account Manager at Counter Context explains why Counter Context are supporting the Big Give Christmas appeal to raise money for Dementia Friendly Cafes across Sheffield:

“It’s that time of year again – when you are likely to see as many charitable pleas as you are brussel sprouts. That being said, when something truly valuable crops up, we pay attention.

At Counter Context, we love our home city and investing in Sheffield is somewhat of a no-brainer to us. We live here, work here, socialise here and go for those all-important Christmas drinks here. But not everyone has that luxury to just go out, socialise, celebrate the good times and plan those New Year’s resolutions that mostly get forgotten by the time Christmas dinner is digested. In fact, many people feel very lonely when it comes to Christmas time.

As a company we know how privileged we are and we want to give something back to the people of Sheffield -something that has a real tangible impact on the city and people’s lives. We have supported a number of good causes this year and when we were approached by Museums Sheffield to support their Big Give Christmas Challenge, we were only too happy to oblige.

Museums Sheffield and the Big Give Christmas Challenge initiative aim to raise funds to hold Dementia Friendly Cafes across museums in Sheffield. The cafes will provide welcoming spaces for creative activities, historic object handling and reminiscence. These types of activities make a real and proven difference to those living with dementia.

We were astounded to hear that in Sheffield alone, 6,000 people currently live with dementia. Nationally, it is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million. These are not small numbers. That’s why we want to help.

Alexis,  our Managing Director, explains:

“We are always looking for ways to support our city. This initiative aims to genuinely help the people of Sheffield who are living every day with dementia. It’s a simple, straightforward way to make their lives better and we’re really proud to be involved. But we need your help – the Christmas Challenge is a match funding campaign so if you give, we give. This is a chance to invest in something truly tangible for Sheffield – we can’t wait to hit the target and see and hear about the cafes really making a difference to people’s lives.”

The Christmas Challenge is the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign. Museums Sheffield has a fundraising target of £4,000. We, along with Quality Context and the Postcode Support Trust, have pledged £2,000 for the matching pot. To reach the £4,000 target, Museums Sheffield needs online donations between 28 November and 5 December from the public. For one week only, we’ll be matching your online donations so that they are worth double – you can find out how to donate by visiting: museums-sheffield.org.uk/biggive

Find out more about our Big Give Christmas appeal and how your donation could make a vital difference to people living with dementia here.

Breaking down barriers for people living with Dementia

Written by May Lester

I panicked when asked to write this article. As a Project Manager, I’m comfortable with logic and facts (my mum’s genes). My day-to-day role involves managing communications for large infrastructure projects. Turning my hand to an initiative that is life-changing and emotionally charged and really doing it justice is a different kettle of fish. Keeping to my strengths though, let me start with some facts. 850,000 people in the UK have dementia. In less than five years this number is likely to increase to 1 million. Here are some more: in Sheffield, 6,000 people live with dementia. It can affect anyone, regardless of their age, background, education, lifestyle or status.

I am no stranger to witnessing a loved one experience a (currently incurable) condition. I know that statement probably applies to the majority these days. Whilst this comes with its own challenges, one fantastic by-product is that it forces you to challenge your own perceptions, and look for ways to improve life. It forces you to make some lemonade with those lemons.

I am lucky to work for a company that shares this philosophy. We want to improve the lives of people in Sheffield who are living with dementia. At Counter Context, we’ve have joined forces with Quality Context and the Postcode Support Trust to match donations made towards a vital new project that will be delivered by Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust: Dementia Friendly Museums and Gallery Cafés. This initiative will break down existing barriers to living well with dementia, including social isolation, and will provide welcoming spaces for creative activities such as historic object handling and recording memories.

The Christmas Challenge is the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign. Museums Sheffield has a fundraising target of £4,000. We, along with Quality Context and the Postcode Support Trust, have pledged £2,000 for the matching pot. To reach the £4,000 target, we need online donations between 28 November and 5 December from the public. For one week only, we’ll be matching your online donations so that they are worth double to Museums Sheffield. You can donate now by visiting The Big Give Christmas Challenge website.

This is an opportunity to do something tangible for Sheffield. We were recently voted the ‘happiest city in Yorkshire’ (Rightmove, 2017) – let’s keep it that way, for as many people, and in as many ways, as possible.

Students power our economy, we need more of them.

Written by Alexis Krachai, Managing Director

Students. They are everywhere. Throwing up in the street. Marauding around town. Putting cones on cars. Perhaps worst of all, the traffic is so much busier when the universities come back from the summer.

When I moved back to Sheffield 10 years ago, those were the views I heard the most. I had similar feelings when I was woken up again at 3am on hearing the ‘kids’ stumbling home from the night out at the Union or West Street. As I’ve grown older two things have become clear: firstly, the old stereotype of students is wrong; most are up all night working, not drinking. Secondly, students mean big business for our city and our economy.

There are now over 65,000 students who call Sheffield home each year. They bring money to spend in our shops, pubs and clubs. They bring the demand for high-quality city centre accommodation which supports our property industry. Most of the cranes you see on the horizon are there because new student accommodation is being built around our city centre. You hear some people say we are building too much, they are wrong. Developers are not stupid. They are building more and more student flats because more and more students want to come and study in Sheffield.

Together our two universities employ 12,000 people. That workforce makes a huge contribution to the city’s economic wellbeing. Individually and together, both universities help fund some of our most popular events.

The importance of students to Sheffield and our wider economy has other impacts which are less obvious. Many of the retailers keen to open in the city centre are attracted to Sheffield because we have so many international students here in the city. If you go on the train to Manchester or Leeds at the weekend you can see our students coming back with bags full of clothes and electronics. Retailers want to be in Sheffield so they can sell to students directly here in our city centre.

The growth of student city centre living has also impacted positively on local communities. Ten years ago, rows and rows of houses were student properties. First time buyers had to compete with student landlords to get on the housing market. Nowadays the students live in purpose built city centre accommodation. The benefit? More houses are available, and I get woken up less!