National Preparedness Commission

Credit: PA Media

Despite pandemics featuring prominently on the National Risk Register for the past decade, the impact of COVID-19 has been dramatic. Chaired by Lord Harris – a former reviewer of London’s terrorist preparedness – a new National Preparedness Commission has been established to ensure the country is better prepared. The intention is not to criticise the handling of past crises, but to look to the future by overseeing a programme of strategic work intended to encourage immediate action to tackle the greatest threats facing the UK.

Made up of leading figures with hands on experience of responding to emergencies, the commission will hear from experts across the world, hold roundtable events, and publish guides and policy papers outlining good practice to ensure an effective response.
The objective of the National Preparedness Commission is to urge policymakers ‘to think ahead’ to ensure our society, infrastructure and financial systems are able to cope with major shocks in the future. The Daily Telegraph and the BBC covered the launch of the commission and Lord Harris was interviewed by Ian King on Sky News.
Staffordshire County Council

Staffordshire County Council

Barley Communications was appointed by Staffordshire County Council to devise a campaign to boost plastic bottle recycling, with the aim of saving 46 million bottles from the County’s waste stream each year. Despite increased awareness about the environmental importance of reusables and reusing plastic bottles, Staffordshire residents alone still use millions and throw away four in 10.

To help address the issue, Barley devised Plastic Bottles: Recycle One and All, a campaign that simply asked residents to recycle at least one more plastic bottle a week in their home recycling bin. Through social activity, it highlighted that despite misconceptions, any bottle can be recycled – not just milk and fizzy drinks, but all food, drink, bathroom and most plastic chemical bottles – and how best to recycle them. Residents were also shown inspiring examples of how recycled plastic bottles can be turned into useful things like park benches, road bollards and car batteries.

As research found that households with primary school-aged children were most likely to not recycle sufficiently, a central part of the campaign was community engagement in schools. Schools were invited to enter a competition whereby the most engaged one had the chance of winning a set of playground equipment made from recycled plastic. A Plastic Bottle ‘Coconut Shy’ fair type game also toured participating schools, getting pupils to learn about recycling in a fun way.

As the campaign launched in late February, shortly before schools shut due to COVID-19, activity had to be postponed, so results are not yet available.

COVID-19 testing at UK Biocentre

UK Biocentre

The UK Biocentre provides a centre of excellence for biomedical research to the academic, pharmaceutical and biotech research community.

At UK Biocentre, they have scaled up to analyse COVID-19 swabs. Robotic equipment will enable us to analyse tens of thousands of swabs every day. Testing at scale with high levels of accuracy is vital. None of this would be possible without their dedicated staff, 150 volunteer scientists and the support of the NHS, Public Health England, the British Army, Royal Navy and their industrial partners – who have all played a vital role to help them scale up operations and ensure accuracy. 

Hear more from the people who helped make this possible:


They are one of three new Lighthouse Labs – the biggest diagnostic testing network the country has ever seen – supporting the national COVID-19 testing effort. 

UK Biocentre was established in 2011 as the service arm of UK Biobank, a national research initiative that collected biological samples and data from 500,000 UK volunteers. UK Biobank is regarded as the world’s premier biobank and implemented an industrialised approach to biological sample processing and management that is now available, through UK Biocentre, to the international scientific research community.

At UK Biocentre they have transformed their facility to test swab samples for COVID-19 on an industrial scale.This would not have been possible

National Trading Standards

Barley’s work for National Trading Standards helps protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses. Our recent high impact stories have highlighted the increasing role of organised crime and modern slavery in Trading Standards offences and warnings to retailers about selling knives to children.

National Trading Standards is responsible for gathering important intelligence from around the country to combat rogue traders and tackle several national priorities. These priorities currently include mass marketing and internet scams, and a range of trading standards enforcement issues that go beyond local authority boundaries.

Barley Communications provides media relations support for National Trading Standards. This includes:

  • Proactive campaigns to raise consumer and business awareness about specific issues and priorities
  • Proactive media announcements to highlight enforcement milestones, such as court hearings and arrests
  • Managing the National Trading Standards press office.

Recently, unscrupulous criminals have been exploiting fears about COVID-19 to prey on members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends. National Trading Standards is warning people to remain vigilant following a rise in coronavirus-related scams that seek to benefit from the public’s concern and uncertainty over COVID-19.
We devised and delivered a hard-hitting media campaign for National Trading Standards to raise awareness of COVID-19 crimes and help prevent more people being scammed.

This led to 60+ pieces of coverage, including BBC News, The Guardian, Metro, Daily Mail and The Times. The coverage has led to a seven-fold increase in new sign-ups to the scams prevention campaign Friends Against Scams and the story overall has led to 10k+ new registrants.

“We appointed Barley Communications to run the media operation for National Trading Standards in 2019. We outsource the entire press function to Barley and entrust them to manage and enhance our reputation on a range of sensitive issues. At NTS we run multiple investigations and Barley are a vital part of our team handling communications for complex court cases with sensitivity and professionalism. The team recently presented to our Board and we were very pleased with the quality of media coverage on issues such as the sale of knives to under 18s, doorstep crime, scams and other areas of consumer harm. Barley are strategic operators working at a senior level and demonstrate an excellent understanding of the complex partner landscape in which we operate. Barley can be relied upon to use their experience to work effectively with partners including police forces, local authorities, retailers and others. Their knowledge of the consumer protection environment, the partnerships they have developed and their links with relevant media are impressive. I am very happy to recommend Barley.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chairman, National Trading Standards and Author of London’s preparedness to respond to a terrorist attack: an independent review, October 2016

London Waste and Recycling Board

The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) challenged Barley to create a PR campaign to engage 16-24-year-old Londoners with the environmental issues posed by fast fashion and encourage them to consider more sustainable alternatives.

We provided full-service communications support steeped in audience insights, which led us to the #LoveNotLandfill campaign title and an integrated communication strategy covering traditional media, influencer relations and social outreach. All activity had the broader aim of driving behavioural change, ensuring clothes last longer, are reused and recycled, and are diverted away from landfill and incinerators.

There have been LOADS of campaign highlights – brokering a partnership with anonymous street artist Bambi to create an exclusive piece of artwork is definitely up there! See the video below for more…

Ali Moore, Head of Communications and Behaviour Change at LWARB said: “Working with Barley Communications on our #LoveNotLandfill campaign has been not only enjoyable but hugely fruitful: we were overwhelmed by the attention and support that Barley helped us achieve. They didn’t just deliver media relations but helped us with the whole approach, including ideas generation, social media management and film production. They also hooked us up with some great partners, collaborators and creative specialists along the way. The whole Barley team has been enthusiastic, cheerful and eminently practical at every stage – a flexible and responsive communications agency who’ve delivered reach, impact and engagement beyond our expectations.”

North London Waste Authority

We’re supporting North London Waste Authority (NLWA) to deliver its Residual Waste Reduction Plan, which aims to reduce the amount of waste north London householders throw away.

We devise and deliver proactive behaviour change campaigns that inspire audiences to reduce their environmental impact. We have created agenda-topping stories and delivered compelling social media activations on food waste, furniture upcycling, clothes swaps and the scourge of recycling contamination from nappies.

Our recent single-use plastics campaign to encourage a switch to reusable facemasks has achieved coverage across national and regional media including Sky News, The Independent, The Week and LBC and we are delighted that the ‘Swish and Style’ clothes swap project has been shortlisted for the edie Sustainability Leaders Awards 2021.


General Chiropractic Council

General Chiropractic Council logoWe were initially asked to carry out a communications audit for the GCC. This included interviewing some members of the Council and external stakeholders and running a staff workshop to listen to people’s observations. Using the feedback as well as our own desk research, we generated insights which we then tested with the GCC. These insights were used to develop a new framework for communications aligned to the GCC’s new strategy. Since beginning our work, the GCC has refreshed its branding, developed a new website and introduced some new techniques to communicate with its key audiences.  

NHS Isle of Wight

MLAFLBarley worked alongside KPMG, local NHS organisations, GPs, the local council and the voluntary sector to deliver engagement and public consultation services on the Isle of Wight. NHS and social care organisations on the Island were undertaking a review of services as part of the My Life a Full Life Programme.

We advised on appropriate techniques to ensure people on the Island could have their say and participate in the re-design of services that will better meet the needs of the local population. This involved co-production events, workshops and other forms of engagement with all sectors of the community, including hard to reach groups. Engagement, involvement and co-production were at the very heart of our work on this project.

Resurgo Trust

Resurgo SpearThe Resurgo Trust runs an award-winning programme, Spear, bridging the gap between unemployed 16-24 year olds and businesses.  Resurgo was keen to make more use of social media to attract more corporate partners and so extend the reach of the Spear programme.

We worked with Resurgo to review their use of LinkedIn and developed a strategic approach to increasing Spear’s profile and engaging corporate partners.

“Barley Communications helped Resurgo with our Linkedin strategy, advising on how to reach more corporate contacts. Sam instinctively understood our needs and was fantastic to work with.”  Julia Evans, Media & Communications Manager, Resurgo Trust

Sport Wales

Barley worked with Sport Wales to get more people physically active.
Being active – whether through sport or recreation – is good for all sorts of reasons, especially our physical and mental health. But lots of people and communities still face barriers that reduce participation levels. Sport Wales is on a mission to get everyone active and we’ve been delighted to support this vision. Our work focused on two programmes.

In North Wales we supported a pilot project to champion sport aimed at reducing the sport inequalities gap.

We advised on a successful national consultation on the future of sport in Wales. The National Conversation engaged organisations and people across Wales to develop the Vision for Sport in Wales – all about making sure everyone has the opportunity to take part in sport.