Tag Archives: London

Travel for free in London

London has been named the most expensive city to commute in. With an average of £135 per month, it beats Dublin and New York City in terms of travel.

Do you want to travel in the most expensive city in the world without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips and tricks about how to get the most out of your travel.

 

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  1. Do the London Shuffle: The london shuffle, also known as the commuter dance is when a person takes advantage of the busy tube stations and they shimmy their way behind you without having to pay a penny. For the more courageous people out there, you could go under the barriers and get in contact with disgusting London floors. I don’t know whats worse, paying £5 for a trip or crawling on Oxford Street Station to get out of it.
  2. Jump Jump Jump!: If you’re lucky and there is no tfl staff around, you could jump over the barrier and make your way to the promised land of sweaty arm pits and awful body odor without having your wallet feel lighter.

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  3. ‘Forget’ Your Ticket: This tip is for the extroverts out there. This easy hack includes talking to someone at the station and saying you forgot your card on the tube. Extra points if you bat your eyelashes and look frazzled as you search through your bag for your ‘lost’ card swearing you had it a second ago.

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  4. The 2-for-1: Being a student in London should classify as some sort of disability and thus, you can apply for the two for one. This means that a handicapped barrier could aid you in the fight of exorbitant prices in London. Just ask your friend to tap in as you dash through, just don’t get your bag, hand or leg caught in it if it closes.

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  5. The Bunker: A cliché, but a cliché for a reason. While on the rail, whenever you see a ticket conductor making their way down, you can slide your way into the nearest bathroom and hide like the hermit you are. This rule is slightly outdated as it is not 1995 anymore, but what is the harm in trying?
  6. The Lucky One: Some times, and only sometimes, the barriers at Tube stations are open without a soul in sight. This gives you full access to the tubes. Now all you need is a lot of confidence in what you’re doing, don’t stop or hesitate. You got this.

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  7. The Slip In: At a busy bus stop, whenever the bus driver opens the doors to exit from, you can easily enter without tapping in your oyster card. Extra points if you have a friend to distract the driver at the front of the bus, but it can easily be done without it.

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    Go out and live your cheapest life! Who knew living the life of rebellion is so rewarding?

Idris Elba slams Tory party for out pricing London

With the news that the government may be banning letting agency fees, Sadiq Khan has revealed new development plans to create 12,000 affordable houses in London, and Idris Elba has something to say about it.

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Idris Elba

Idris Elba has recently slammed the Conservative party for abolishing housing benefits for people aged between 18-21. the actor, who has always lived in Hackney, London had some very strong words for the political party. “The government is trying to take away housing allowances from 18-21-year-olds … Seriously man. No one should be homeless it’s f****** b******t. No one should be hungry.”

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Sadiq Khan

In an effort to help the housing crisis the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently released plans working with L&Q to invest £8bn into creating 20,000 new homes, and ensuring 60% of them will be affordable housing.

there is no set date on when the ban of letting fees will be put into action, for a brief breakdown of what this could mean for you, check out our previous 60-second breakdown.

You can have your say by looking at the survey about the ban. Additionally, you can also email to lettingagentsteam@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Written responses should be sent to: Housing Standards Team, Better Rented and Leasehold Sector Division, 3rd Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

When you reply please indicate whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and include: – your name, – your position (if applicable), – the name of organisation (if applicable), – an address (including post-code), – an email address, and – a contact telephone number.

 

60 Second breakdown of the ban towards letting agencies

60 second breakdown

You can have your say by looking at the survey about the ban. Additionally, you can also email to lettingagentsteam@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Written responses should be sent to: Housing Standards Team, Better Rented and Leasehold Sector Division, 3rd Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

When you reply please indicate whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and include: – your name, – your position (if applicable), – the name of organisation (if applicable), – an address (including post-code), – an email address, and – a contact telephone number

Government sets a ban on letting agent fees

The UK Government is imposing a ban on unfair letting agent fees. This is to stop people from falling into the trap of hidden costs, and stops agents from exploiting their role between renters and landlords. 

In the past 30 years, there has been an increase in rent and buying houses since the 80s. The chart below starts at just under £50,000, and in some years this has spiked up to above £300,000.

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Infographic: Tooba Haq

We spoke to some students living in London about their experience with hidden costs and estate agents. Fay Cross, who has been hit with hidden agent fees. “We signed the contract and were given fees from the estate agent that they previously didn’t tell us about, we also had mice which the landlord and estate agent both refused to help sort out.”

Melissa Cowern, who lives in Harrow, a location populated heavily by students said “We were told originally that it was a £500 deposit each, but then we were told that we had to pay guarantor fees, agency fees and tenancy fees which were around £100-£200 each which we won’t get back, he said that all agencies did it so we had no hope of finding anywhere cheaper.”

The conversation has been blowing up on social media after it was announced yesterday,  many letting agents claim that the ban of fees could harm the security of the landlords. This is what people on twitter had to say:

Loving Brick Lane

East London is the hype for young Londoners, in the centre of this hype is Brick Lane, a place where you find a bit of everything. There’s culture, art, diversity, food, stores, clubs, music, pop-ups, tattoo shops, literary everything. But why it become such a place to go? What is so special about Brick Lane?
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coffee car

“Brick Lane is just

a fun place to be

where good

stuff happens”

Sam, 22 Years old

Well, the story of Brick Lane starts way before I was born, and it’s messy and complicated, like a good book. It all start on the 19th century when the first breweries, and one of the first markets outside of central London, and still happens every Sunday; it was after that when the area started to grow.

In the beginning, it was an area of immigrants; it began to be a place where Irish and Jews people used to live in, back at the start of the 20th century. As the years went on, the Irish and the Jews moved away from the area, and the people from Bangladesh start to get in around the 70’s,  mostly because of the house prices.

“When I came to

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Rainbow baggels original store

brick Lane I feel alive

and connected with the city”

Charlotte, 27 Years Old

Because of that nowadays is one of the places that you can find the best Bangladesh curry in, is the place where are the most houses of curry in London. And is one of the only places where the street table is in Arabic, it even had the name of Bangla town, it was a form of ghettoization at that time, but nowadays we see it as an inclusion symbol, showing that in that area they are welcome and that everything is fine.

As the years pass by East London start to become the area of the arts people, it was not too expensive, and it was close to the centre of London. At that time till nowadays the artists explore the street as a form of art, one of the things that made Brick Lane famous was the street art.

By that time, Brick Lane started to evolve to what it is today, becoming one of the places that you can find a bit of everything.

“It’s funny how Brick Lane

IMG_3412 2is always changing but

it never losses

the essence of it”

John, 54 years old

This mix of everything was what made this place famous. The fact that different things, religions, points of view, communities living in peace in one small area show the essence of London. The diversity is the fame of this place, and it is what people get from London and hope for the world.

Posted by WNOL on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

This tiny place in the world show’s how diversity can bring happiness and be peaceful; we need more Brick lane’s around the world.

Bringing back the indie: A conversation with Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends are an English Indie pop band who have been topping charts and headlining venues all over the UK. Their first hit single ‘Swim’ came out two years ago, and since then they have been seen at festivals such as Reading and Leeds, slowly making a name for themselves.

They sat down with me before their first sold out headline show at the Heaven nightclub in London, to talk about their sound, their struggles as musicians and Pokemon. 

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Image: Omar Balde

Q. Did you ever think you would become this successful? 

Sam/ Drums (S): It’s hard to think that we could be this successful, especially with the amount of people we could have worked with being at university together.

Natasjia/ Vocals (N): I never thought we would be this successful. We moved to Brighton and I only knew Sam and about 2 others. I reached out to him saying I need drums for a show, and well here we are.

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Image: Tooba Haq

Q. The name Fickle Friends is very different. Where did it come from? 

(N): We used to joke about starting a DJ duo, and we were spit-balling names for it and we came up with The Fickle Friends, because we’re bad at sticking to plans and then i just kind of stole it for the band name

(S): The person we stole it off knows, don’t worry. He was the engineer for the album that we uploaded.

Q. How does it feel to be working with Mike Crossey? He’s managed bands for the 1975 and Wolf Alice which are both huge.

(S): It’s actually kind of funny, because when we weren’t signed and doing everything ourselves we’d always joke to work with him. He [produced] the 1975 record and we loved it so much so when we got to know we were going to work with him, I was ecstatic.

(N): Everyone’s dreams came true when we went to LA!

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Image: Tooba Haq

Q. Speaking about LA, how was living the LA experience? 

(N): It was really exciting because we were there for a month, living on East Hollywood and the Valley just writing music, living the tourist life. We climbed the Hollywood sign and went to Six Flags – the big theme park.

Q. Any favourite rides or recommendations? 

(S): I think the first one we did, the X-2! Out of the four of us here, I’ve never heard so much fear collectively.

(N): By far one of the scariest rides I’ve ever been on. You genuinely think, ‘this is it, I’m going to die, this is the end.’

Q. You’ve been to a lot of festivals in the past year, about 53? What has to be your favourite? 

(N): I think Reading and Leeds this year would have to be the best one. We’ve had a lot of festivals under our belt, but this year I think we had bigger crowds and people knew our songs and they came to see us.

(S): It was Reading definitely, that was probably the highlight of our festival season.

Q. What would you say is the festival that you really want to play in the future?

(N and S): Glastonbury for sure.

(N): I would also love to do something like burning man which would be insane. I just want to do all the big European festivals. Maybe some in Australia. I honestly just want to travel.

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Image: Tooba Haq

Q. This year must have been quite the relief for you after finally getting a contract, how has that been? 

(N): It means that we won’t have to work part-time jobs in the day to support our music at night. It’s not like oh I’m broke, can’t write a song this week because I need to work 7 days to pay rent.

(S): But I mean, we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t done that so

Q. That must have been hard, did you guys ever think of giving up?

(S): We were close –

(N): I don’t think we ever said we were going to give up, but I think it did get to a point where we were like how long can we keep doing this for until we have to take a step back and give it a breather

(S): We were very close, and it feels good that we stuck it out

(N): It forced us to kind of re-evaluate where we are as a band, and then we made some changes around because something felt off, but we got it.

Q. How does it feel being in London’s Heaven for your first headline show?

(S): It’s quite a big deal for us. The last big headline we did was at Dingwalls last year, with no contract and half the crowd coming tonight.

(N): I still can’t believe it.

(S): Its kind of fueled a fire in us, I just want to do more headline shows and travel.

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Image: Tooba Haq

Q. Any sort of fun pre-show rituals?

(S): Pacing. Theres a lot of pacing, and we don’t really talk to each other much.

(N): Theres like this brief bit of terror we all feel before getting on, but once we get on stage it’s all forgotten

Q. Who would you love to open for in the coming years?

(N): I’m going to go out there and say something like Drake. Or maybe Childish Gambino.

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Image: Tooba Haq

Q. One of your first hits, Swim came out in 2014. That is not that long ago, how do you think you’ve grown and changed as a band?

(S): It was quite mad when Swim came out wasn’t it?

(N): Yeah it was, i think we’ve kinda figured out how to write better lyrics and understanding our sound more. We’ve just improved so much, and with being together for so long we kind of understand each other more and what works basically.

(S) Its kind of always been that, just moved into a better version.

Video rights: Fickle Friends Vevo/ YouTube.

Q. Like a Pokemon? 

(N): Yes exactly. Like a Pokemon!

(S): We were a Squirtle and now we’re a Blastoise.

Q. If you could be any Pokemon which one would you be?

(S): From the original, Blastoise was always the one for me.

(N): Such a shame Pokemon Go is over, I was so into it

Q: When can we expect a new album to come out? And what are you guys doing in it? 

(N): The summer of 2017

(S): We’re actually playing 3 songs from the new album later tonight, so watch out for that

(N): You can expect some dark pop, because right now we’re very upbeat and pop-y. Theres a couple of ballads and its a little slower.

(S): A broader spectrum of Fickle Friends is a good analogy.

Q. Any names for the album yet or? 

(N): Oooh there are some ideas, but we’re very bad at making decisions.

(S): So yeah, no actual name yet.

A snippet of the show in Heaven, London.

Video credits: Tooba Haq

Q. And finally, can you describe your band in three words for us?

(N): chill, sex, and violence.

(S): Not chill for sure.

(N): Can we say indie on fleek, because someone said that to us during our show last night.

(S): So yes, Indie on fleek.

Fickle Friends have released the song Hello Hello, on the 8th of March which you can check out below, along with their soundcloud link!

Soup Kitchens and Students- What you can do

In London alone, there are over 8,000 people sleeping rough. The government’s benefit cuts and failing welfare system have seen the number of homeless people in London double over the last five years.

As one of the most expensive cities in the country, Winchester has a growing problem with homelessness as more and more people are pushed out of affordable housing. One person who is trying to help is Connie Ball, a 21-year-old graduate of Winchester University; she decided to start a soup kitchen.

credit: Mag’s Media

“When you walk through the main street in Winchester, there are homeless people sat outside every shop. Seeing such a wealthy city become more expensive and seeing more people turned out onto the streets makes me really angry.” Connie wasn’t sure what she could do to help, but she figured a batch of soup wouldn’t be passed up. “It only takes an hour to make a batch of soup and another hour or so to hand it out, I figured it was worth trying.”

Connie had lived in Winchester for two years before starting the soup kitchen. The pivotal moment that made her start? “I am always in awe when I walk through Winchester, it’s a really beautiful city. It was October time, so it was raining heavily. I realised I was lucky to be living in such a wonderful city but that there were other people who weren’t and I just thought I should be doing something about it.”

Connie spoke to one homeless man and offered him some change, he refused to take her money, so she rolled him a cigarette and had a chat with him. “He wasn’t much older than us, he was telling me about his upbringing. He had an abusive dad and had a drug problem from an early age because of it.” The man was in Southampton with work but was laid off, he made his way to Winchester as people tend to give more money and there is more shelter.

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Credit: Wikimedia. Homeless people find shelter in Winchester shop entrances.

Connie has spent the past year organising and funding the soup kitchen herself, she advertised it on the university webpage and within days received over 100 responses from people interested in volunteering. Although the soup kitchen runs like a society, the university have no interest in being apart of the organisation. “The university see it as unsafe so it’s all organised over Facebook, they also don’t seem thrilled with me still being a part of it, but I’m not too fussed.”

People who wish to volunteer can visit the non-profit organisation called The Winchester Hub, which works directly with the university and is used as a point of access for students who want to volunteer. “Lots of people are getting involved, we usually get around five to ten people a week helping to cook the soup and distribute it. Plus, one of the grocers at the market gives me a huge crate of vegetables for £10 so I can make lots of soup. It’s great to see the community helping each other.”

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Credit: Wikimedia. 8,000 people sleep rough in London every night.

So, what can you do to help if you live in London? I asked Connie for some key tips on how to help the homeless in such a large city:

  • Safety is so important, safety in numbers. Make sure there are at least four of you.
  • Talk to local food banks, see what they’re already doing.
  • Find out what food you can give out.
  • Join an already formed soup kitchen.
  • If you want to do it yourself, ask your university or soup kitchen if you can use their kitchens once a week.
  • If soup kitchens are already covering days, organise yours on a day they aren’t.

If you find somebody sleeping rough call StreetLink to help them find safety.

 

Street Link failing to help homeless people?

Feature image from Wikimedia

London is notorious for its homelessness because of the lack of affordable housing. Welfare reforms and benefit cuts are a nation-wide issue, especially in London as people are struggling to pay high rents.

On Wednesday night, pulling into Wembley Park tube station, a man was asleep across the seats. Nothing peculiar at first, but looking closer, his arm was in a cast, his head had been cut open, a can of beer hung loosely from his hand. He was surely not okay.

After attempting to talk to a woman working for TFL, who seemingly did not want to help, the next step was to contact Street Link– a non-profit organisation that apparently helps the homeless. On the phone they ask for his phone number, considering the man didn’t have a place to call home, how would they expect him to have a phone? Alas, they were unable to help, so off we went to get food. Martin began crying. Martin, a 50-year-old man cried, over a burger. This isn’t right.

The growing number of homeless people in London is becoming dangerous. According to Streets of London over 8,000 people slept rough in London throughout 2015-2016. More than doubling over the past five years. Although there are numerous charities and shelters trying to tackle the problem, it seems that they are unable to keep up with the rising demands and the government are unwilling to support them.

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Homelessness has more than doubled over the past five years. Credit: Leanne Hall     Source: Crisis

A spokesman from Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people said “The best thing to do would be to ring Street Link who can help find the person shelter.” But what if Street Link can’t help? “They should come out and meet them, but there is a high demand that is difficult to keep up with. We advise people to find other local charities but there isn’t a huge amount that can be done.”

Crisis are currently pushing the Homelessness reduction bill, which has been debated in The House of Lords today, and passed. This means that local councils will have to supports single homeless people, this bill could transform homelessness across the country.

Street Link have responded by saying that there must have been some confusion as they do not require a mobile number for a referral and that the outreach service is not an immediate service due to the number of referrals they receive. However, as the main outreach service in London Street Link have a responsibility to answer every call.

Next week, Connie Ball will reveal how she helps the homeless as a student in Winchester by starting a soup kitchen, and gives advice on how you can too.

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