Sue Gray, Sir Keir Starmer’s Chief of Staff, recently suggested that a future Labour government would look at different ways of engaging people to help make decisions in complex or controversial policy areas.

In a time of increased polarisation of public opinion and debate, citizens’ assemblies in particular are gaining traction. But what are they and how do they work?

Citizens’ assemblies are not a new concept, but they’re not that well known either. If you have heard of them, that might be because of the high-profile exercises held by the Irish government on issues of abortion and climate change. Or it might be because you’ve seen one of the growing numbers being undertaken by local authorities across the UK.

The process involves bringing together a group of ordinary, randomly selected citizens (in the case of the Irish examples, 99 plus a chairperson for a total of 100) to deliberate on a particular issue or policy area. This group then meets across a number of sessions, often at weekends, where they will hear from subject matter experts, discuss the topics in groups and vote on proposed outcomes.

Proponents of citizens’ assemblies say that they offer the time and opportunity for regular citizens to learn in much more detail what makes up a topic, and deliberate it fully. There is also a sense that it builds trust between people and politicians – that decisions are being made with and not just for communities.

On the other hand, critics have said that this method can never truly be representative and that competency among assembly members cannot be guaranteed. Interestingly, some also feel that direct, deliberative democracy like this actually undermines the wider democratic process, by diluting the power of elected representatives.

Whatever your views, it’s likely that we’ll see more of this kind of engagement in the future, not least if as expected, the Labour Party win the General Election later this year.

At Copper, we recently ran a similar deliberative exercise with Cornwall Council, bringing together over 40 people from across the country to discuss decarbonisation of the energy system as part of its Residents’ Energy Panel.

And what is clear from this exercise is that while there may be limitations to undertaking engagement like this, and that it does require an investment of time and resources, there is no end to engaged, articulate and motivated local residents willing to give up their time to help shape policy.

When part of a comprehensive programme of consultation and engagement, this type of exercise has the potential to not only give those involved a sense of ownership over the outcomes but can also help to give wider communities a sense that things are being done with them and not just to them.

For more information on Copper’s engagement work, visit our case studies page.

Download the report here.


For the first time this year, nations attending COP28 reached consensus on “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner”. With 2023 the ‘hottest year on record, with worsening extreme weather events across the world [and] global greenhouse gas emissions at an all-time high’, perhaps this is the least you might expect.

But it does mean that there is an irrefutable mandate for meaningful, urgent change at political, societal, organisational and household levels. Set against the backdrop of twin cost-of-living and housing crises, an AI revolution and the biggest year for politics in recent history (with no fewer than 67 national elections set to take place this year), the stars are aligning for major, rapid change ahead.

But how do we build understanding about these changes? How to secure acceptance, consensus and buy-in?

At Copper, we believe that behavioural change is at the root of any transformation. Our new report, Turning sceptics into believers – how to deliver meaningful change, takes a deep dive into Copper’s transformation methodology. This comprises the central tenets to building understanding, securing buy-in changing beliefs and behaviours, and ultimately securing the buy-in needed to deliver meaningful, lasting change.

Our report draws on conversations with experts to explore five fundamental themes to securing meaningful change, and more, in detail.

Contact us for further information.

International Women’s Day: Women working in male-dominated industries.

In the world of communications, we’ve been scoping out women who are empowering others in male-dominated industries to lead, advocate, and create change.

With the theme of International Women’s Day this year focusing on inclusion. We’ve loved discovering women in various fields who are vocal about their work through social channels, blogs, networks and organisations.

The Copper 2024 Female Power List comprised of categories including: Construction, Energy, Transport & Logistics, Pioneering Change, Out on-site and Organisations/Campaigns.

We encourage you to discover the content and hard work all the following women have been a part of:


👷🏽‍♀️ Construction

  • Kate Fahey – She is Irelands 1st female Tower Crane Operator at just 20 years old! Her content around working in the construction sector is inspiring more women to become Tower Crane Operators.


  • Kelly Cartwright – Lives by the motto of ‘You Can’t Be, What you can’t see’ advocating for women in construction and inclusivity. Check out her latest PPE awards attire!


  • Amy Underwood – Amy is plant operator in Scotland, she is part of the ultimate dad and daughter duo. She is a role model to women wanting to work on construction sites, and she doesn’t hesitate to clap back at any sexist remarks.


  • Carol Massay – Carol’s mission is to continue to promote the construction sector as a great place to expand your career and provide world-class technology to attract skills from other walks of life to the sector.


  • Sinead Clarkson – Not only a Chartered Quanity Surveyor, an ambassador for empowering women into roles and co-chair of National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Yorkshire Region


⚡ Energy

  • Catryn Newton – As Community Investment Director of Bute Energy , Catryn works with communities throughout Wales utilising our capacity for renewable energy generation and she is passionate about social value in her field.


  • Leonie Dubois – In her role of Head of Engagement Land and Consents at Thames Water, we are lucky to get the pleasure to work alongside her with project work.


  • Daniella Twelvetree – Daniella is now Head of Customer and Engagement at South West Water following a career break to relocate with her family, creating no barriers to excelling in her career.


  • Michelle Brechtelsbauer – With impressive work in the energy sector, Michelle is passionate about championing the global shift to sustainability through innovative energy strategies.


  • Carol Tansley – Talk about a successful woman, Carol lead the delivery of major programmes as diverse as operational readiness for the Arab World’s first nuclear power plant (new build, four reactors)!


🚛 Transport and Logistics

  • Charlotte Robinson – A planning manager aiming to inspire and empower Women in the Construction, Rail & Transport Industries.


  • Sonya Byers – Sonya is the Chief Executive of Women in Transport, a non-for-profit aimed at supporting women in transport.


  • Sajni Vekaria – Sajni is a Sustainability Graduate at Balfour Beatty who is passionate about empowering women in the construction industry, especially when it comes to highways!


  • Heather Enness – Master Mariner Heather Innes, provides us with content which empowers women to consider careers within the maritime industry.


  • Jacqueline Sutton – Jaqueline is the Non-Executive Director of the Women in Aviation & Aerospace Charter. Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter aims to support, showcase, and inspire through female role models.


🙌🏼 Pioneering Change

  • Sarah Mogford – Sarah an RSK Group Board Director who is responsible for one of our UK Divisions primarily offering planning and permitting led environmental consultancy services.


  • Hannah Coogan – Set up the RSK Women’s Network in 2022 and is now Immediate Past Chair on the committee.


  • Carla Denyer – Carla is the co-leader of the Green Party as well as a Bristol City councillor.


  • Wawa Gatheru – Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru is a climate storyteller passionate about making the climate movement relevant and accessible to everyone.


  • Vaila Morrison – An architect with a focus on inclusive design and accessibility for all with a focus on home design and children’s playgrounds.


🦺 Out on-site

  • Sophie Maguire – Also known as The Pink Plumber, where you can find Soph document her apprentice diaries. Whether she’s chatting about the daily grind, latest products or breaking the gender bias with her TikTok trends.


  • Connie Palmer – Connie the Carpenter works to advocate women’s PPE through her brand collaborations. Her range of work for a young woman starting out in the trade is inspiring.


  • Kornelia Dziewicka – A female electrician who is unfazed by working on-site in commercial settings. Aside from her tool demos and reviews, project updates and PPE fits, be sure to check out her sidekick Bambi.


  • Sophie Perkins – A quantity surveyor and building engineer who has designed her own 13-piece women’s safety shoes collection with the brand Amblers Safety.



🏢 Organisations and campaigns

  • The House That She Built – The House That She Built is to support workforce development initiatives in home building by generating awareness of the skilled trades to underrepresented communities.


  • Empower Her in Energy – A community on a mission to empower women and encourage diversity in the energy industry.


  • The PPE Campaign – Campaigning to address the widespread inequalities in PPE provision among minority groups


  • Make Space for Girls – Make Space for Girls campaigns for facilities and public spaces for teenage girls. Parks, play equipment and public spaces for older children and teenagers are currently designed for the default male.


  • Powerful Women – Chaired by Katie Jackson, and run by the Energy Institute as project partner, POWERful Women (PfW) is working for a diverse, inclusive and gender-balanced energy industry in the UK.

Gigafactories – Have we stumbled on a consensus?

Ronan Cloud, Director of Economic Development, explores the UK’s need to catch up on gigafactories.

When the  £4bn advanced battery manufacturing plant was announced to be developed in Somerset, the overall mood from across the political spectrum was celebration.

Gigafactories – a term to describe large scale factories that develop and manufacture electrical products associated with decarbonisation (such as EV batteries) – have become a hot topic for all the political parties.

They are seen as critical to decarbonising transport and accelerating the UK’s efforts on electrification. All while supporting skills and generating home-grown innovation that drives a clean growth economy.

Labour has identified around 40 sites for eight new gigafactories across the UK, whilst the Conservatives have made it clear that the potential new plant in Somerset will be a key part of it’s own growth strategy, bring jobs and investment into the country.


Playing catch-up

There is a clear need for this enthusiasm. The UK is well behind other nations when it comes to these facilities. The US has 34 such plants, whilst Germany and France have 12 between them. The UK, so far, has only one – the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

It’s clear that the UK has to catch up, particularly as the country’s automotive industry copes with the challenges it has faced through Brexit and the knock on effects to international trade.


Opposition on the move

As there is a political consensus, it would seem obvious to think that we will be inundated with new gigafactories over the coming years, with each party (including the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party) all clamouring to extol the virtues of these plants.

But, we could be wrong.

There are already some opponents to the proposed Somerset plant lining up. Environmental and green space groups, working with local councillors and campaigners, are starting to mobilise, putting local politicians at odds with their national leaders.

These stakeholders could cause issues throughout the planning process if not managed or engaged with effectively.

Therefore understanding how these plants and facilities could benefit local regions, towns and cities will be vital in ensuring a smoother time during the planning process.


The power of social value

Demonstrating the social value and future legacy each facility could afford will also be key. How many jobs will the schemes create and how will this generate more wealth and further employment locally? How will environmental challenges be overcome and how will the huge scale of these plants be matched with huge power – from renewable sources?

Answering these questions will be important as we move from nationally-focused announcements to the nitty, gritty of planning decision making.

Yes, we have a national consensus on gigafactories, but what about the local scene? Unless managed effectively, we could have a very different story.

From engagement to strategic comms: my first few months

Before starting at Copper back in May, I wasn’t aware of how much my background in engagement would support my growth into strategic communications. Throughout my first weeks at Copper, I was granted the opportunity to learn first-hand the ins and outs of strategic communications. Quickly learning how essential it is to the success of many projects.

A good strategic communications plan will allow you to tactically inform and influence your audience to achieve their objectives. In this piece, I’ll take you through the OASIS framework – objectives, audience, strategy, implementations, and scoring/evaluation – which is a surefire process to ensure all angles are considered when planning your strategic communications. I will also use this framework to highlight my key takeaways from my first few months at Copper.



My first key takeaway is that defining your objectives is the most important aspect of strategic communications. They will guide the development of your strategy and ensure targets are met. However, defining objectives is not as simple as you may think. You must navigate the complex web of the wider business objectives alongside your own. In our work for Shell, we are working across three separate projects. This involves supporting their energy, automotive, and aviation sub-streams. However, each piece of work needs to be undertaken with consideration of Shell’s wider objectives – one of which is to become (and therefore perceived as) more sustainable.



After defining your objectives you’ll then need to define your audience. This is because your audience’s needs, values and priorities are key to informing the strategy and content which follow. Your audience includes two key groups: influencers (public figures who can become advocates or opponents of your project, campaign) and ‘end users’ (your ultimate target audience).

Before beginning any communications plan, Copper completes a stakeholder mapping exercise, which allows us to define and determine who we will be targeting. It is important to truly understanding your audience as people, and what works for them, instead of simply seeing them as a target to influence. This provides you with a better understanding of how to manage and communicate with the audience empathetically and effectively.


Strategy and implementation

From agreeing your audience and objectives, the next point to consider is your strategy. You should be able to capture your strategy in a line or two, which can be unpacked into more detailed workstreams below. This then informs your tactics which is the implementation of your project, including the content, channels, and activity that accompany your strategy. Which is usually the longest, part of the process which requires a high level of detail. Providing the shape of the full programme of activity, or at least the next phase.

A crucial aspect of your strategy is your messaging – clear and concise messaging is essential if you are to influence and inform your audience. A detailed and nuanced understanding of your audience will enable you to create a targeted and defined message that supports the narrative of the overall strategy. Developing a concise strategy and plan for your chosen messaging is much more likely to allow you to achieve the set objectives.

Top tip: remember that your messaging needs to be active, and not passive.


Here at Copper, when it comes to scoring and evaluations we take into account the deliverables following the three O’s: outputs, outtakes and outcomes. Utilising various tools and metrics to ensure return on investment for our clients. 


My first couple of months at Copper has allowed me to deep dive into the world of strategic communications, learning so much from the range of projects that Copper work on. You can read more about the work that Copper’s strategic communications team does here:

Copper Consultancy has launched its revitalised change management offer. In this blog, we take a look at what change management is and how it has been successfully implemented outside the built environment industry. 

Organisations are constantly changing. Whether you’re adapting ways of working to address modern challenges, such as climate change and digitalisation, or improving stakeholder engagement methods to become more efficient.

The principles of change management are widely accepted within the practice, however each change programme is unique. Therefore, the implementation is a constant evolution.

To maximise benefits of change initiatives, it is crucial to always learn from change theory and industry best practice. That’s why, nearly one year on from the original launch, we have refreshed our change management offer. 

In our renewed offer, we consider: 

  • change theory from the likes of John Kotter and Prosci
  • our own experiences in undertaking change projects
  • even Domino’s Pizza

These learnings have all been fed into our renewed C:change offer. So, our offer is built on the key principle that, to create lasting change, you must build with people, not for them. 


Regardless of sector, change management is largely about using techniques to teach and alter behaviours and practices. For example, transitioning an organisation to a new IT system requires employees to buy into the benefits of the new system. So, to successfully implement a new stakeholder engagement process requires senior management to prove their genuine advocacy of the scheme – often through their behaviour. 


What is change management? 

Firstly, what are we talking about when we say “change management”?  

To Copper, change management is the process of planning for and rolling out an initiative or programme. This could include developing something that you already have in place, such as improving stakeholder engagement processes or introducing something entirely new to your team or business. 

Ultimately, this initiative or programme will cause employees and those affected by the change to do something differently. This could range from changing behaviour to operational job changes. 

In fact, to prove how universal change is, we have explored a fascinating change campaign that took place in the food and drink industry. 


Case study: Domino’s Pizza 

Back in 2008, Domino’s was struggling to stay relevant and maintain its brand reputation. By implementing a successful change management programme, the company started to turn around. 


Uncovering the change 

Having the foresight to address change in customer behaviour differentiates businesses from their competitors. Therefore, identifying a change that is happening in the industry then adapting to benefit from it, is arguably the most important step in the process. 

Through market research and analysis, Domino’s identified that more orders were being completed online. Not only were management convinced to focus business development on enhancing the online-ordering experience. But, this change in direction was due to market research and being in-tune with changes happening in the wider industry, taking into account trends. 


Proving the power of senior buy-in 

Meanwhile, the enthusiasm and support for digitalising their ordering system was filtering from the top down through the entire business. Once momentum was built and excitement spread through the business, Domino’s was able to implement new technology. This helped to support the shift to online ordering.  

Indeed, this demonstrates the importance of gaining backing from senior teams in driving change forward. Of course, senior buy-in encourages advocates from across the business to collaborate, champion and grow the new initiative. This helps in creating a snowball effect of positive support. In fact it even inspires innovation and lets stakeholders feel like change is being done with them, not to them. 


Using data to drive change 

Finally, the company leveraged customer data collected through their ordering system which helped them develop customer loyalty programs that continued to increase sales.  

Utilising data to your advantage increases the chances of a successful change initiative. Copper’s bespoke data tool Communify Insight enables us to use real-time insight in order to identify key issues, questions and challenges to develop highly targeted narratives and communication channels for stakeholders who are impacted by the change. 


Change and beyond 

Notably, Domino’s is still embracing change to this day; it has recently tested drone and robot delivery and is partnering with Ford on self-driving delivery options. 

Keeping your brand and business offer aligned with changing customer needs and priorities is a common challenge that many businesses face. Copper’s work as a part of the Towns Fund Delivery Partner taught towns how to leverage branding to create a lasting legacy through the changes that the project lifecycle brings and beyond. 

In conclusion, some of the key considerations for implementing successful change are: 

  • Identifying and taking advantage of any changes happening within your organisation or wider industry 
  • Gaining buy-in from senior teams and advocates across the business 
  • Using data to enhance your change initiative 

In fact, perhaps the built environment needs to take a slice of knowledge from Domino’s pizza. Ultimately, in every industry, successful organisations constantly evolve and redefine business models. But change requires careful communication and management.  


If you have a change happening at your business, contact Ronan Cloud, Director of Economic Development at Copper to discuss how we can help you. 

Click here to find out more about Copper’s change management offer, C:change.  

By-election bonanza: what we learnt ahead of the general election

With the results from the three by-elections now in, Luca Ingrassia takes a look at what we can learn ahead of an upcoming general election.


Conservative Party                                                                                                    

As much as the Government will look in the coming days to portray retaining Uxbridge and South Ruislip as a sign of hope for the next general election, any hope is likely to be tempered when set amongst the overall swing away from the Conservative Party. Nevertheless, retaining Uxbridge, even in localised circumstances, will provide a modicum of dignity for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Unlike his predecessor-but-one Boris Johnson, who faced a similarly precarious set of by-elections last summer amidst Partygate, Sunak can still be confident of the support of the majority of his MPs. Furthermore, his approval ratings are significantly higher than those of his party, and he has no obvious challenger. So as poor as the Conservatives’ electoral performance is, he may remain the best hope of preventing even worse.

The Party may look to Uxbridge and South Ruislip as a blueprint. Labour’s failure to take the seat has largely been attributed to widespread local opposition to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s proposed expansion of the ULEZ program. The Conservative campaign was able to successfully mobilise this by portraying the by-election as a local referendum on ULEZ, and portraying Labour in turn as the party of ULEZ. The Party will also be hoping that floating voters are yet to be fully won over by Keir Starmer’s Labour. A lot can happen once national campaigning begins, when issues such as the economy and NHS take centre stage.

Losing Selby and Ainsty and Somerton and Frome in two formerly safe seats does however demonstrate the Party’s unpopularity. It will also reinforce predictions of electoral doom, with less than 100 Conservatives holding majorities larger than that overturned in Selby. As a result, we may see a further swathe of Conservative MPs announcing they will stand down at the next election rather than face imminent defeat.



For Labour, the result in Selby and Ainsty is nothing short of outstanding. It is their largest ever majority overturned, with a swing just under 24% putting them on track for majority Government. Not only have they won back Red Wall voters, but are now pushing beyond it to supposedly safe Conservative seats.

But Labour cannot afford to be complacent. Their delight at Selby and Ainsty will be offset by disappointment in Uxbridge, where they couldn’t quite get over the line. They also struggled to push back against the Conservative campaign’s successful mobilising of ULEZ as a local wedge issue.

Finally, the Party is still very mindful of how it is perceived. Its number one priority at present seems to be to position itself as being fiscally disciplined. Policies that are popular with Labour membership have been dropped and/or watered down as a result. Critics of the Labour leadership suggest this approach is insufficient to attract new voters and capitalise on the Government’s unpopularity. However, strategists on the ground in Selby and Ainsty found a number of lifelong Conservative voters switching to Labour for the first time. This suggests widespread openness if not enthusiasm for Labour to be given a chance to govern. However, the failure to take Uxbridge and South Ruislip will mean there will continue to be nagging doubts over the leadership and political instincts of Sir Keir Starmer, as the pressure cooker environment of a general election approaches.


Liberal Democrats

As their revival gathers momentum, Somerton and Frome is the fourth seat they have gained from the Conservatives this Parliament. This will fuel their hopes of picking up potentially dozens of Conservative seats across the South. Their hopes of doing so will be boosted by the widespread use of tactical voting which was evident across all three by-elections, suggesting prominent anti-Conservative sentiment and electoral savviness in the electorate. And should the Conservatives be able to blunt Labour gains and force a hung parliament, the Liberal Democrats may well find themselves with an opportunity not just to expand their political footprint, but to head back into power.

As Westminster slowly ramps up for the next general election, national politics continues to prove as volatile as ever. Copper will continue to provide intelligence and insight to support clients in navigating this turbulent landscape and adapting to change.

Copper Consultancy has appointed Luca Ingrassia to strengthen its economic development offer and provide additional support for the firm’s growing work in decarbonisation projects across the country.

Joining from Connect Public Affairs, Luca brings significant experience in advancing campaigns for a number of prominent organisations in the net zero space. This includes Toyota, Vaillant and UNISON. Luca also acted as Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hydrogen.

As Copper looks to sustain its recent growth in net zero, Luca will provide advantages for clients across the economic development sector in his role as account manager.

Director of Economic Development at Copper, Ronan Cloud, said: “I am delighted to welcome Luca to Copper. His experience in renewable energy and the wider net zero landscape will add significant value to Copper’s offer. His appointment will bolster our growing team and provide additional support as we service a growing client base”.

Luca’s experience covers a range of policy areas, including energy, skills, technology and transport. At Copper, he will be supporting on the strategic direction of major client accounts and provide political insight.

Commenting on his appointment, Luca said: “I am incredibly excited to be joining Copper at such an important time for the firm, with RSK Group’s backing fuelling ambitious plans for growth to meet the pressing demands of the net zero transition.

“I look forward to providing insight, expertise and advantage as the company helps clients navigate today’s challenging political landscape”.

To find out more about Copper Consultancy’s strategic communications offer, visit the website.



Simran Sarai, senior account executive at Copper, discusses her experience at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ (DLUHC) Towns Conference in Manchester.

More than 230 people descended on the Hilton in Manchester to attend the Towns Conference. A unique gathering of local authorities, partners, Town Deal and Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) places. The event provided the opportunity to reflect and build on the brilliant work that has taken place within the Towns Fund programme so far.

The hosts of the event were DLUHC, Arup and the Towns Fund Delivery Partner (TFDP) consortium. In fact, the conference, the first of its kind for a major Levelling Up funding programme.

As an integral member of the TFDP’s strategic leadership group, I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop. With a focus on communicating, engaging and branding during project delivery at the Towns Conference.

Providing the opportunity for Towns to share best practice on stakeholder communications. Everything from engagement methods to top branding tips.

Some key topics at the session:
  • Place branding and building a town legacy
  • How to maintain momentum whilst delivering projects
  • Tailoring messaging to different audiences

Copper’s expertise in effective community and stakeholder engagement, market positioning, brand development and use of social and other media helps towns in developing their Town Investment Plans and early-stage Business Case development.

Working as a part of the Towns Fund Delivery Partner for over two years, it was a pleasure to facilitate best practice conversations between town representatives. Meeting them in person and advising on how best to engage with their communities on their Towns Fund projects.

We look forward to exploring the next step in the UK’s Levelling Up agenda.