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What’s on? Spring activities

Westminster Works Help for job seekers

London Theatre Olivier Awards 2013 plus WIN! £100 of theatre tokens

City Save Fantastic local offers

SPRING 2013 ISSue 111

Unlock the door

to homeownership in Westminster

Do you live or work in Westminster? Homeownership Westminster is a council service that prioritises those currently living or working in the City of Westminster for homeownership and rental ADVERT opportunities through a number of different options. Arrange a face-to-face meeting to find out more and see how we can assist with your housing aspirations!

Register today Call: 0845 437 9701 Visit: Email: Find us on Facebook at Homeownership Westminster

Follow us on @HOW_Catalyst

Homeownership Westminster is delivered by Catalyst Housing, a charitable housing association

The Westminster Reporter |



Victoria Tower Gardens

8 Local discounts 10 Top tweets 14 Westminster Mile 16 What’s on 25 Getting back into work PLUS Win £100 of theatre tokens, see page 19

The Westminster Reporter is produced as part of Westminster City Council’s customer service programme. Cabinet Member responsible for Communications: Councillor Philippa Roe, Leader of Westminster City Council. The Westminster Reporter is delivered to homes and businesses throughout Westminster. If you encounter delivery problems, please call the communications team on 020 7641 8088.

Also available from libraries and leisure centres.

The editorial team: Sofia Nikolaou, Charlotte Parkins and Clym Sutcliffe.

Printed by Service Point UK Ltd, 161-165 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3AL.

For general enquiries, call the council switchboard on 020 7641 6000.

Advertising: please contact Cath McNeill on 020 7641 2476, or

Printed on FSC® certified material.

To discuss editorial matters, please contact: The Editor, The Westminster Reporter, 17th Floor, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria St, London, SW1E 6QP. Telephone: 020 7641 5295 Fax: 020 7641 2958 Email: Minicom: 020 7641 2948

Reference copies of The Westminster Reporter are available in large print and audiotape format. To have a free copy sent to your home call 020 7641 5295. Published by Westminster City Council, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP.

Please recycle The Westminster Reporter. For more information on recycling call the Environmental Action Line on 020 7641 2000.



Giving you value for money We’re at the start of a new financial year which means many of you will have just received your Council Tax bill. I know that more than ever money is tight for so many people up and down the country, which is why we have worked hard to keep our Council Tax low and freeze it again this year, making it the lowest Council Tax in the country.

The Westminster Reporter |


imes have changed significantly and we have reflected this in our plan for the next five years, which I announced in March. Our work to improve people’s lives, keep streets safe and clean and protect the most vulnerable will not change, but the way in which we provide these services will. We have to be more efficient and our plan sets out how we will continue to serve the city in spite of the economic climate. We believe that more than ever we need to make it easier for you, our residents to play an active part in your community. You can read more about the people who are already doing this and making a difference on page 12. An important part of our plan is to support those who need to find work. It’s important that people, especially school leavers are given the chance to acquire the skills they need to secure a job. The projects we support to do this have already been successful in

helping people to find employment and get on the career ladder, you can read their stories on page 24. Of course, improving lives is also about giving those who are vulnerable the support and care that they need. Our new Dementia Centre is a wonderful example of how by providing the resources and investing in the right areas we can make a difference to individuals and their families. On p26 you can read all about Wilmoth and his wife Anna who have been kind enough to tell us how much of a difference the new centre has made to their lives. You can find more information about our projects and services as well as stories from our residents about their experiences, in this issue. I hope that you find it both useful and inspiring.

Cllr Philippa Roe, Leader of Westminster City Council

CIty Guides

Hanaa Ennasr El-idriss, 16, from Westminster tells us about volunteering.


ity Guides is a volunteer programme organised by Volunteer Centre Westminster. We provide helpful information at busy, important events. In the last year we have worked at the Paralympics, Christmas lights switch-ons, the West End V.I.P. shopping day, movie premieres, and The BAFTAs. The programme encourages anyone over the age of 16 to get involved in the real world in a fun way. It also brings people together from different ethnicities and backgrounds. Best of all, for a young person, it can give you lots of useful skills such as communication, group work and even leadership. Currently, I am a City Guides Leader. The responsibility I have for the group encourages me to enjoy what we do even more. I have had training as a leader because it’s important to know what you are organising and make sure that everyone knows

what they are doing and what the event is about. Volunteering is a great thing. It keeps you out of trouble and gives you something productive to do with your spare time, from sports coaching to working with kids: anything is possible. I mainly started volunteering because I needed something to do over the summer. I was thinking about my future because I want to study acting and I need a job to pay my university fees. Life can get quite scary when you hit 16 and this is a way of releasing that scariness and turning it into something fun because through volunteering you get lots of support. Bertolt Brecht, a theatre practitioner, said “No one will improve your lot if you do not yourself”. No one can make you volunteer, you need to do it yourself and, if I can do it, any young person can! To find out more information visit


ommunities in Westminster have been given new powers under the Localism Act to shape their local neighbourhoods. This means that representative ‘neighbourhood forums’ consisting of residents, business and councillors will be able to develop a neighbourhood plan. These plans will influence future developments and use of land within your area such as: the location of new housing and shops, the provision of community and recreation facilities, as well as design and environmental standards for buildings. To develop a plan for your neighbourhood, you will need to contact the council to formally designate your neighbourhood area. Once this is agreed you can establish a neighbourhood forum so that you can develop

your neighbourhood plan. So far there has been formal interest in neighbourhood planning from residents and businesses in sixteen neighbourhoods. The council has started designating neighbourhood areas, and communities are now establishing new neighbourhood forums, who will soon be drafting plans to shape the future development of their area.

To find out if your neighbourhood has been designated and for more information visit

Changes to your waste collection


e need to change how we collect and dispose of waste and recycling in Westminster. We have been set the challenge of recycling over 30% of our waste by 2020 so we want to find out what we can do to help you recycle more. Our current waste and recycling disposal arrangements will be coming to an end in 2017 and we are looking for new contracts which fit the future needs. Tell us what you think by completing an online survey and taking part in the waste consultation. Whether you think

we need to give you more information about what you can recycle, or provide more recycling collections, you can help shape the strategy and the way waste and recycling is collected and disposed in your neighbourhood from 2017. We will also be out and about around Westminster from 22nd April until 26th July 2013 to get your feedback and comments. Visit us at your local area forum to join in the discussion, visit: uk/areaforums For further information on where you can have your say please visit westminster.

Health and wellbeing


hanges to the law meant that from April 2013, every local area now has a Health and Wellbeing Board, made up of a range of people from health organisations and from the local council. Westminster’s Health and Wellbeing Board is responsible for creating and putting in to practice a strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of people who live in and visit Westminster. There are many factors which affect health and wellbeing ranging from exercise and the food we eat to our upbringing and the environment we live in. The Westminster Health and Wellbeing Board have a published strategy, and we want to know what you think about it, and how you and your community can play a part in improving health and wellbeing in their area. ster’s Westmin lth joint hea ing & Wellbe gy strate

ity. healthier LCives. Healthier

Please give us your feedback by 2nd July 2013. You can respond online, via email, in writing, or by phone. Online: healthandwellbeingstrategy Email: healthandwellbeing@ Write to: Health and Wellbeing Board, 17th Floor SOUTH, City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP Phone: 0207 641 6000 There will also be a series of public events during the engagement period.

5 The Westminster Reporter |

Your Neighbourhood, Your Plan


News in brief



Lowest Council Tax in th We know times are tough and we are committed to making sure you get value for money through your Council Tax. This is why we have frozen your Council Tax for the sixth year running, making yours the lowest in the country.


e can keep your tax low because we are making 75% of our savings by continuously finding new and more efficient ways of working. This means we can protect as many of our frontline services as possible. We have not closed any leisure or children’s centres and we have protected services for our most vulnerable residents. By developing new ways of working and sharing services with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) and the

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (K&C), we are able to make improvements to services and keep costs down. For example, we have cut care proceedings in the court system from 58 to 26 weeks and shown how we can reduce our legal costs by around £1.9million. By sharing Library services with H&F and K&C we have saved £10 million and given you access to one million library books. And in September we will launch

What you pay

The Westminster Reporter |


How we spend your money Housing Adult services Public health


Finance and operations


Corporate items



453.83 529.47 605.10






370.33 437.67 505.00 606.00 -1.2%

832.01 983.29 1,134.57 1,361.48 -0.6%


* Excluding levy for Montpelier Square Garden Committee For more information about Council Tax and to download the latest A-Z visit:


City management £77m

Greater London Authority 202.00 235.67 269.33

461.68 545.62 629.57 755.48 % increase 0%


Children’s services £156m

Westminster City Council 251.83 293.80 335.77



a new two-year service that will help offenders get back on track. Over five years this new approach will reduce reoffending and help to save between £1.2 million and £6.1 million.

Built environment £27m Corporate property £25m £23m

SEB and £14m Strategic support £9m

Sports and leisure £5m Total

£933m Renata Brady


he country

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fo money for moneyrfrom from

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wcc_a-z_13-14_aw3.indd 1 05/03/2013 14:40

What you think about your services “Of all the services provided I use Westminster’s parks the most, I think they are fabulous. I use them all the time to walk my dog, we can’t get enough of them.”


New phone numbers We know that some people still prefer to call us rather than use our website. To make it easier for you to get through to the right person when you call, we have simplified our phone numbers:

Adult Social Services 020 7641 2500 Children’s Services 020 7641 4000

Renata Brady.

Council Tax 0845 302 3400

Barry Howard

Housing advice 020 7641 1000 Housing and Council Tax Benefit 0800 072 0042

“I think the services are good and the council Sport and Leisure does a great job” 020 7641 2012 Barry Howard

“I use Seymour Leisure Centre for swimming as I like to keep fit. I do a weekly aqua aerobics class and it’s brilliant, the instructor Julie is really good. I’ve made friends through the leisure centre and think it’s a great class, something Westminster needs to keep going for residents. It’s really important for older people especially, there are people in my aqua class who have had hip replacements and it really helps them.” Zena Dounavis.

Libraries 020 7641 6200

Changes to Council Tax Benefits

Parking 020 7641 4567

You may have heard about changes to Council Tax Benefit. In Westminster there are no changes to the way you receive your payment or to the amount you receive. It is now known as Council Tax Support and not Council Tax Benefit. If you are already receiving Council Tax Benefit you do not need to reapply as you will automatically qualify for the new support.

Planning, Licensing and Events 020 7641 6500

For more information visit

Rubbish, Streets and Environmental Health 020 7641 2000 Registrars, and Electoral Registration 020 7641 7500 General phone number 020 7641 6000

7 The Westminster Reporter |

ow to HowcHto otntact contac the the coun


Value for money

Westminster City Save gives residents fantastic local discounts and offers on top London attractions. City Save replaces ResCard and is free to join*. Register at If you were a ResCard holder you can exchange your old card at any Westminster library or leisure centre and get your new City Save card on the spot. Offers and discounts for Westminster residents Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park Get the best available seats for only £22.50 at the award-winning Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. This London landmark is a firm fixture of summer in the city, providing a cultural hub in the beautiful surroundings of a royal park. 0871 423 2240

To Kill A Mockingbird: 16th May –15th June 2013

60% off swimming at all council leisure centres

Pride And Prejudice: 20th June – 20th July 2013 The Sound Of Music: 25th July – 7th September 2013 The Westminster Reporter |

0844 826 4242

Westminster Abbey, FREE ADMISSION Gain free admission to Westminster Abbey, a designated World Heritage Site. Walk down the same aisle that turned Kate Middleton into the Dutchess of Cambridge and learn about the thousand years of history the Abbey is steeped in. 020 7222 5152

*members must be 16 or over.

London Dungeon There’s 20% off entry to the London Dungeon for up to six people with your City Save card. The London Dungeon invites you to a unique feast of fun with history’s horrible bits. Live actors, a ride and special effects transport you back to those black, bleak times so come and visit the world’s most chillingly famous horror attraction.

Swim for just £2 at any of the council’s five swimming pools including the historic Marshall Street Leisure Centre. swimming 020 7641 2013

35% off at Spa London Pamper yourself at the new Spa London in historic Marshall Street Leisure Centre. The offer includes a three-hour

Value for money

Value for Money Friday is part of our City Save scheme and is another great way to save money. Expect a new offer every Friday – providing residents with access to discounts and activities for a limited time. Value for Money Friday is open to all residents – you do not need to join City Save, you just need to live in Westminster and like discounts. To find out about upcoming VFM and City Save offers, sneak peeks and free events happening around Westminster sign up to the VFM newsletter at

April 15% off Heartbreak Gallery shop Offer: With 15% off at the gallery shop you can pick up a famous print for your wall. relaxation session with access to two steam rooms, two saunas and a relaxation lounge.

Date: Until 5th May Venue: 17 Bulstrode Street, W1U 2JH

020 7494 2280

020 3219 5710

Marylebone High Street, W1U 5HG 020 7486 1000

20% off Tennis in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park Offer: Dust off your tennis racket and spend some time in the beautiful royal parks with 20% discount on off peak hire of tennis courts. Date: 19th April – 31st June, 20% off-peak court Venue: Hyde Park Sports Pavilion and Regents Park Tennis Centre

35% off Westminster Walking Tours

Save 15% at Rococo Chocolates

Join qualified Westminster Guides as they lead you on a walking tour of the city and learn the secrets and stories surrounding some of your favourite areas. Tickets are usually £8, but cost only £5 with a City Save card.

Offer: To celebrate their move to their new Moxon Street store in mid April, this independent luxury chocolate shop is giving you lucky people 15% off their delicious chocolates. How could you resist?

Date: 1st April – 31st May


Venue: 3 Moxon Street, W1U 4EN and 45

April but run throughout the year Venue: Various locations across Westminster 020 7313 3060 (Mini Kickstart, ages 2-5 years, sessions) 020 7641 7471 (Kickstart, ages 6-12 years)

020 7262 3474 (Hyde Park)


020 7486 4216 (Regent’s Park)

15% off Carry me Home Baby Boutique

Free family health and fitness classes Offer: Find out about healthy eating, and how to keep your family fit and healthy, with a free 6 or 10 week course for families with children aged 2-12 years. Date: Courses begin 15th

Offer: To celebrate their 8th birthday, ‘Carry Me Home’ is offering 15% off in store. The stylish shop is packed with beautiful baby gifts, clothes, toys and some things just for you. Date: 3rd May – 31st June 020 7434 1840

The Westminster Reporter |



Top Tweets

Discounted gym Ride London membership is coming for people with On 3rd and 4th August RideLondon will be coming disabilities to Westminster. This annual Are you living with a disability? You can apply for your new Better Health and Fitness Inclusive membership now. You’ll get inclusive access to the gym, swimming, group exercise classes and a fitness induction at Jubilee, Seymour, Porchester, Queen Mother and Porchester leisure centres for just £19.95 a month, while carers will be able to use the facilities for free. Visit: westminster.

Follow us on

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Find out what’s on in the West End Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be among the first to hear about what’s happening in the West End, visit:

cycling festival promises to be an action-packed weekend with something for spectators and cyclists of all abilities. From a family friendly bike ride to a televised race for the world’s elite, RideLondon aims to become the largest annual mass participation cycling event in the world. For details visit

Silver surfers

New Marylebone Library

Go fish!

Find out about our plans for a new Marylebone Library due to open in 2015 in Luxborough Street subject to planning permission. From August 2013 until the opening of the new library in 2015 the library will move to a temporary location at Macintosh House on Beaumont Street. Visit marylebonelibraryplans

If you are over 50 and live in Westminster you can get FREE personal 1-to-1 support from sixth form students and learn how to surf the internet, use facebook and send email. To book, contact Swati at Open Age on 020 8964 1900.

Young people can learn to fish with a former world champion through Westminster’s new community fishing programme. Introductory taster sessions begin on Tuesday 9th April from 2-4pm for young people aged 11-17. No previous experience necessary. For further information contact Jon Hearn 020 7641 4810 or jhearn@


Charity Splash

We’re developing a new app that allows you to view and interact with local information. The app uses augmented reality to show planning and licensing applications in your local area and to find your nearest council amenities. We want to know what other information you would like included in the app. If you have an Android phone you can download the prototype here and leave your comments: localsay

On 6th October 2013, take part in the world’s biggest fundraising swim at your local pool and raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Either take on the individual 5k, Individual 2.5k or Individual 1.5k or get a team of up to five people together to take on the Team 5k or Team 1.5k challenge. Call 0845 36 700 36 or apply online at swimathon. org before 24 April 2013.

FREE audio books Alcohol advice A new free counselling service is available for people over 60 who are concerned about their drinking. The service is free, friendly, informal and easy to access.

Listen to your favorite books on your ipad, computer or mp3 player with a new e-audiobook service from the libraries. Download one of 600 bestselling titles and start listening. Visit eaudiobooks or ask at your local library.

How to conta d get valu contfoanact r money fro e m c Howthetocouncitl

Westminster Weddings Just got engaged? Congratulations! Why not get married at one of London’s most iconic venues, Old Marylebone Town Hall? The famous building will be closed for refurbishment from September so this is your last chance before 2016. To find out about availability this summer call 020 7641 1162 or visit westminster.

council tax Lowest council tax in the country

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wcc_a-z_13-14_aw3.indd 1 05/03/2013 14:40

Lowest Park right in Council Tax in Westminster the country! Find out where, how and Find out what services you can get for your money. Download the latest A-Z of services from our website: counciltax

when you can park in Westminster, including blue badge and disabled parking. Get the latest copy of our ParkRight guide online. Visit:

Volunteer at some of London’s most exciting events Become a Westminster City Guide and you could help out at events like West End LIVE, the London Marathon, Chinese New Year and the Baftas. Find out more at uk/cityguides

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Test out our new app



Better City Better Lives

Improving the city toge Last month, the council announced a programme to improve Westminster over the next five years. Better City, Better Lives will involve everyone who visits, lives and works in Westminster.



e want to make sure that you feel healthy and safe. We will help everyone to live longer, healthier, independent lives and work closely with the police to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

Taking responsibility: Run Dem Crew


un Dem Crew (RDC) is a running club formed in East London in 2007. More than just a running club, RDC provides mentoring and advice to young adults, as well as the opportunity to explore London in a safe, supportive environment. It was so successful that a West London branch of RDC opened in 2012. Cory Matthews helps to run it: “All we ask is that

those who embark on this journey with us ‘Leave it on the Road’ – in short, give it your all. We are a collective, a family, a crew. We come together every Monday not necessarily to share our passion for running, but to give others the opportunity to be better, healthier, stronger and more importantly ‘Fit for Life’.” Find out more about Run Dem Crew at Run Dem Crew

“There’s a unique atmosphere at the HUB which our customers really seem to respond well to.” Nigel Houghton


The Westminster Reporter |


e want businesses to thrive and young people to have the skills and opportunities they need for a successful career.

Using enterprise space: SimplicITy at Hub Westminster

Nigel Houghton at the Hub

We have committed more than £2m over the last three years to help improve the lives of our residents and communities via Neighbourhood Funds. Find out more at


UB Westminster was set up by the council in 2011 and provides affordable space, learning and investment opportunities to entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.

13 The Westminster Reporter |

ether You can find out more about our plan, Better City, Better Lives, at bettercitybetterlives.



e want you to feel more involved in your local community, whether by volunteering, meeting new people or having more say about how things are run. We also want to make sure everyone feels connected to the services and information they need.

opportunities, particularly unemployed people. “Many volunteers through the Volunteer Centre have gone on to find paid work. I hope that, through my volunteering, I can go on a get an ideal admin or reception job.” Find out more about volunteering in Westminster at

Volunteering: Nicole Moore

Nigel Houghton, Managing Director of SimplicITy, said: “We were looking for office space but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. We visited the Hub and saw lots of young people with young companies, trying to get their businesses started. “So we became members. It’s ideal for us. There are meeting rooms, we can run demos for our clients and we launched our SimplicITy Homekey in the event space at the HUB last year. There’s a unique atmosphere at the HUB which our customers really seem to respond well to.

“We’re particularly pleased to be associated with the HUB as our business is all about trying to do something which is socially useful. Our Homekey device makes using a computer more simple, letting you focus on the things you actually want to do, like send emails, browse the internet and look at photos. We soon hope to have 100 organisations selling the Homekey around the UK.” To find out more about the benefits of joining the HUB visit westminster. And you can find out more about the SimplicITy Homekey at homekey.


icole Moore, from Harrow Road, currently volunteers as a receptionist at Volunteer Centre Westminster three days a week: “I had no admin experience before volunteering at the Volunteer Centre. I am now gaining new admin skills as well as helping people in our local community to find volunteering

“Many volunteers through the Volunteer Centre have gone on to find paid work.” Nicole Moore

Nicole Moore


Westminster Mile

Follow in the footsteps of our Olympians Join the thousands of runners taking to the streets of Westminster this summer for an all-inclusive sports event backed by Paralympic super-star David Weir MBE.


he Bupa Westminster Mile takes place on Sunday 26th May and is a series of mile-long races for all ages and abilities, and promises to inspire the next Mo Farah or Kelly Holmes. The event begins on the iconic Mall, at the same start line Olympians and Paralympians used for the

The Westminster Reporter |

“The beauty of the Bupa Westminster Mile is it’s a one-mile road race, making it accessible to everyone of all ages and abilities.” David Weir MBE

Geraldine Evans

Marathon and Road Cycling events in 2012, before heading around the edge of St. James’s Park and finishing outside Buckingham Palace. There are different categories for competitors of all ages and abilities so that everyone can take part. As a Paralympic legacy, races will

also be held for Junior and Senior Wheelchair and Visually Impaired athletes. The first race starts at 9.30am and the last at 3.30pm. First-time runners aged as young as nine will be racing on the same day as the elite category, expected to attract some of the top athletes in the UK.

You can join in 100 hours of FREE activities for children and young people every week.

Paralympic legend and Bupa Westminster Mile ambassador David Weir with Karim Mahaddihe (right).

Paralympic legend David Weir MBE, winner of four gold medals at last year’s Paralympics and Bupa Westminster Mile ambassador says: “To deliver a real legacy, Paralympic sport needs high-profile inclusive events like this which can inspire more people to get involved in sport. “The beauty of the Bupa Westminster Mile is it’s a one-mile road race, making it accessible to everyone of

all ages and abilities.” Westminster City Council is working jointly with London Marathon Limited and Bupa to deliver the event which forms a key part of the council’s long-term Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Karim Mahaddine is a pupil at Westminster City School and has signed up for the mile. She says: “I already run long distances like 800m and







Over 50 one-mile races for all ages and abilities Juniors


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Westminster Mile takes place on Sunday 26th May, 10am-5pm.



Olympics because that was really fun.” Gerlinde Eaves, 72, from Marylebone has also signed up to take part. She says: “I’ve signed up for the Bupa Westminster Mile because since finding out I had high blood pressure, with the help of a GP referral programme I’ve been running a mile and a half everyday on the treadmill and it will be a good excuse to keep up my




Entry costs £8 for adults and £6 for juniors. There’s a £1 discount for Westminster residents and schools. Register for your place online by visiting bupawestminstermile.

Loloa Awoderu

1,500m at school and run in cross country competitions but I’d like to see how fast I can run one mile. I think for kids my age, this is a good chance to try running if you haven’t done it before. I’m really excited and one of my friends has signed up too so we can run together.” Lola Awoderu, a pupil at St. Marylebone C.E. School says: “I hope everyone gets really excited for this like they did about the





training. What I would say to other people, even if you don’t do any other sport, it’s only one mile, everyone can do it! Do it together as a group and support each other on the way round. You could even complete it by walking and enjoying the atmosphere and the great views of St. James’s Park.” Scott Betts from Westbourne Grove says: “The Bupa Westminster Mile is a great way of


promoting the idea that sport is available to everyone, it’s not just about high-level competition, but recreation and taking part. There’s already lots of facilities in Westminster people can make the most of. I do several classes at Moberly and Little Venice sports centre including boxing and circuit training.” To find out more about Westminster Mile visit













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Set off on the iconic Mall and complete your challenge outside Buckingham Palace, the same start and finish line used for the Marathon and Road Cycling events in 2012.



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Veteran runners Elite athletes Wheelchair users Visually impaired










Find Your Time Run the Mile Take part in the Bupa Westminster Mile, a new one-mile running event in London’s Green Park.











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MAY 26th 2013



The Westminster LL Reporter |




What’s on?

Find out what’s on in your local area with our round-up of events and activities across the city. Visit for the latest listings.

The Westminster Reporter |



In the heart of London’s West End, Regent Street will become a traffic-free zone for the day to enable shoppers to enjoy fantastic entertainment, including music and dance, food and drink, arts and crafts and more. The festival is part of a month of international celebrations in Regent Street, where global destinations are linking up with shops and restaurants to entertain the public. Venue: Regent Street Cost: Free

Carnaby Shopping Party Thursday 2nd May, 5-9pm The Carnaby Summer Shopping Party in association with Grazia Magazine is back. On Carnaby is the place to be! As well as 20% discount in over 100 shops, restaurants and bars including: The Kooples, Monki, Pretty Green, American Apparel and Levi’s Vintage, there will also be many free activities to enjoy. Venue: Carnaby Street Cost: Free Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus

The World on Regent Street Festival

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus/ Picadilly Circus

Olivier Awards live screening in Covent Garden

West end LIVe 22-23rd June West End LIVE, in association with MasterCard, will be returning to Trafalgar Square this June. Presented by Westminster City Council in partnership with the Society of London Theatre, this phenomenally popular free event celebrates London’s cultural offer with a high octane schedule that combines spectacular live stage performances from London’s musical theatre scene with an array of top-class, family-friendly exhibits and activities. Venue: Trafalgar Square Cost: Free Nearest Tube: Charing Cross

28th April, 4pm To celebrate the 37th Olivier Awards, head on down to the BBC Radio 2 Stage in Covent Garden piazza where there will be a live screening of the ceremony as well as performances from top West End shows, celebrity hosts and special guests. Venue: Covent Garden piazza, WC2E 8RF Cost: Free Nearest Tube: Covent Garden

12th May Enjoy music, arts, food and fashion from all over the world in this global-themed festival.

How to be listed To be included in the June edition send details (including access for people with disabilities) to: or by post to: Reporter magazine, 17th Floor, City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP to arrive by May 10th 2013. We cannot guarantee that your entry will be inserted. This is a free service. The information in this guide has been provided by the advertisers themselves. Westminster City Council accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of the information or for any event not organised by the council.


disability access


advance booking required – contact venue


Spring activities for children and young people


On events Autumn What’s and ies activities Summer & events

Westminster Summ This year’s nge reading Challe is here! FREE

Flu jabsndly this winter Baby Frie support

London Tigers Youth Club Mondays, 4-6pm (ages 11-4) and 6-9pm (ages 15-25), Tuesdays 5-9pm, Thursdays 6-9pm

School meals update

g Breastfeedin for new mums


Age: 11+

Venue: The Avenues Youth Project, 3-7 Third Avenue, W10 4RS

Venue: WECH Community Centre, Athens Gardens, W9 3RF

Get to grips with parenting

Cost: Free

Cost: Free (small charges may apply for trips)


Wheelchair access: Yes 020 8969 9552

Comedy Club 4 Kids 20th April, 1pm A proper comedy club for anyone over the age of 8, featuring the best comedians on the circuit doing what they do best... but without the rude bits! Venue: 21 Dean St Soho, W1D 3NE Cost: £10, Family ticket £30 (4 people) 020 7478 0100

Family Art Workshops 20th April and 18th May, 11.30-1pm Explore portraits in the Collection, followed by an art activity. Free ticket required, available one hour before the event starts on a first come, first served basis. Sessions last approximately 90 minutes. Age: 5+ Venue: National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE Cost: Free 020 7306 0055

Nearest Tube: Westbourne Park 020 7289 3395

Just Breakin’ breakdance class

Dance with the professionals from the Just Breakin’ dance troupe. All levels are welcome. Ages: 8+ Cost: £7 per session Venue: Tuesdays – SouthBank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX Saturdays – Hyde Park Bandstand, Serpentine Road and London Trocadero, 7-14 Coventry Street, Piccadilly Circus, W1D 7DH. Nearest Tube: (Southbank) – Waterloo/ Embankment, (Hyde Park bandstand) Hyde Park Corner/ Piccadilly Circus 07816 666 193 Visit inthecity for the latest event and activity listings.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding school meals please call 020 8753 3604. For the latest updates please visit

earn useful skills and strategies for teenagers and very young children with our free parenting courses. They take place at a range of venues across the city and usually run for two hours a week over a month. Each session will consist of a small group of parents and some will include both faceto-face and phone support.

Tuesdays, 6.30-8pm and Saturdays, 1-2.30pm Please call in advance to check classes

Issue 15, Summer

ast month the council tested meat products supplied by our contractors Chartwells to schools and nurseries. The tests showed that pork was present in halal chicken sausages which may have been supplied to 19 schools and nurseries. Pork and lamb was also found in non-halal mince beef potentially affecting a further 17 schools and nurseries. We removed all meat from school menus whilst we worked with Chartwells to find a new meat supplier. We expect to reintroduce halal and non-halal meat in April and will test all new products before they appear on the school menu.

Age: 9-19

Nearest Tube: Queen’s Park/ Westbourne Park

Children First,


Fun activities for girls including customising clothes, cooking, plus a games room.

Tuesdays, 4-7pm


Get Inspired Lab in Story Volunteering er

Come down to London Tigers and spend some time enjoying a great range of indoor activities including table tennis and pool. There’s also an opportunity to take part in workshops and to get help with your CV and employability skills.

Girls Allowed Group

first Issue 16, Autumn 2012

Your magazine to find out more about children’s and young people’s services

To find out more and to book, visit or call 020 641 7346.

Make your home smokefree


f you smoke around your children they can inhale the equivalent of 150 cigarettes per year. Smoking indoors exposes everyone there to harmful secondhand tobacco smoke. Babies and children are particularly at risk from the dangers of secondhand smoke, as they breathe faster and inhale more pollutants for their body size compared to adults. They are also at a higher risk of developing Asthma and chest infections, Meningitis and ear infections. Pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke can pass on the harmful chemicals to their unborn child. If you make the Smokefree Homes Promise today you can get a range of free support and advice which includes, a free fire home safety check and free stop smoking support. Contact the Smokefree Homes Officer on 020 3434 2530.

To read the latest edition of Children First visit: westminster.

You can get the full version of Children First delivered FREE to your door or your inbox three times a year. Email to subscribe.

The Westminster Reporter |

There’s lots on for children and young people this spring. Take a look at our free and low-cost event and activity listings to find out what’s on.


Customer services

Save time, go online It’s now easier than ever to contact the council, make payments and find out information.

There’s a new way to apply for benefits

Get online Most of the council’s transactions are now available online. Paying your Council Tax, applying for planning permission and renewing library books can all be carried out from the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you. With new transactions recently added, get online to: • pay rent and service charges • set up a Direct Debit • apply for a City Save card • apply for school places

The Westminster Reporter |

Go online for a better way to apply for benefits

Go online for a better way to apply for benefits. You can now claim your housing benefit and council tax support from anywhere you can access the internet.

It costs the council less when you use our services online, savings which we pass on to you by keeping your Council Tax low.

You can now claim your housing benefit and Council Tax support from anywhere you can access the internet. benefits

Switch to Direct Debit and win £25,000 WIN! Paying your Council Tax by Direct Debit couldn’t be easier. The money will come out of your bank account every month, helping you to spread the cost across the year and ensure you’re never late with a payment. Not only that, but by making the switch you will automatically be entered into a free prize draw to win £25,000. It’s simple to do – set up a Direct Debit with your bank and payments are made automatically and can be cancelled any time. Everything’s protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee meaning you will get a full refund from your bank if there is a mistake and everything is secure. Visit directdebit to sign up and find out more about the prize draw

Competitions Recycling


WIN a free family ticket to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London, or free entry for one year for one person worth £100.

W Opening up the arts and outdoors to residents


he Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Angela Harvey, has raised funds for a new programme, which will provide residents with special opportunities to visit outstanding outdoor locations and experience some of the city’s great arts and culture. The Lord Mayor says: “Open Westminster is about making sure that residents have fun, while experiencing the best of the arts and the outdoors.” Opportunities will range from free trips to a nature centre, to tea dances and special guided tours of galleries. We also want to hear what you’d like to do and how Open Westminster could help. Send your suggestions for trips or experiences to reporter@ You can find out more about Open Westminster and what’s on offer at uk/openwestminster Open Westminster offers and events will also appear on our City Save website, citysave

ith over 700 authentic artefacts and astonishing interactive exhibits spanning across six floors, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London celebrates the weird, wonderful and bizarre in all its forms in the heart of the West End. From a lifesized knitted Ferrari to an 8ft Transformer, a Mirror Maze and the Impossible Laser Race, Ripley’s London; the capital’s most bizarre attraction, provides the ultimate fun family day out!

WIN £100 of Theatre Tokens and you could enjoy a West End show – or two!


elebrate the best of London Theatre with the Olivier Awards 2013 with MasterCard. The star-studded ceremony, hosted by Sheridan Smith, takes place on 28th April at the Royal Opera House and you can be part of the celebrations at Covent Garden piazza, where you’ll be entertained by live performances before watching the Awards on the big screen. If you’re staying in, you can listen live on BBC Radio 2 or watch the exclusive highlights programme on ITV, visit for details. In honour of the awards we are giving you the chance to win £100 in Theatre Tokens to enjoy a show of your choice.

How to enter

Sheridan Smith

To win any of these email, stating which prize you want – FAMILy / ANNUAL / TOKENS in the email. You can also send a postal entry to Reporter FAMIL Competition, Westminster City Hall, 17th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QP. Closing date for entries not tickets is 31st May 2013. A ‘Family’ ticket comprises four tickets for a minimum of one adult and one child. Terms and conditions apply.



Value for money

Get on your bike with free cycle training Cycling in Westminster is a great way to get fit, save money and even save time.


f you’re keen to take those first steps into (or back into) cycling, take advantage of the council’s FREE cycle training programme to build confidence on a bike, whatever your age or ability.

“ I’m glad I did because I loved it so much I’ve decided to become a cycle trainer myself.”

The Westminster Reporter |

Cherifa Alem

Cycling is gaining in popularity, and the number of cyclists on Westminster’s roads has increased substantially over the last 10 years. However, even for the most experienced cyclists, tackling some of Westminster’s busier streets can be daunting. The scheme is open to anyone living, working or studying in Westminster. These courses are aimed at varying levels of proficiency from someone who has never ridden a bike before, right up to someone who simply wants to gain greater confidence in riding on busier roads. You’ll start in an environment away from cars

or traffic before heading out onto the roads. Once you’ve conquered your fear you will learn the skills to tackle a wider variety of traffic conditions, eventually being able to deal with all types of road conditions and more challenging traffic situations. How you progress depends on you, and your cycle trainer will be able to design a route that suits your level of ability and confidence. Training can be undertaken either on a one to one basis or in groups. Cherifa Alem, from Church Street took up the training last year. “I found

out about it through my daughter’s school. I signed up and started out with a small group of people every Tuesday morning for 8 weeks. “I thought it would be a good idea because I was looking for something that would get me more active. I was feeling sluggish and depended on the car a lot. “I already knew how to cycle but I was amazed at some people there who had never rode a bike before, and struggled to stay on the saddle, but it didn’t take them long to pick it up. “I soon started to feel confident and just have

fun. Even in the rain I told myself I had to commit to the training. And I’m glad I did because I loved it so much I’ve decided to become a cycle trainer myself. A lot of the parents at my daughter’s school have asked me to teach their kids so I’ll be kept busy. “For anyone scared of the roads or who perhaps have never thought about it, I’d say get on the bike this weekend, give it a go and don’t be scared. It’s such a good way to start feeling fresher and healthier.” To find out more about Cycle training visit:

Your recycling guide Your mixed recycling collection is weekly Step 1

Step 2

Order your free recycling Put all your recyclable bags or container from items together into your your housing manager or recycling bag or container. caretaker, or contact us.

You can recycle:

Step 3 Leave it out on your recycling collection day or put it in your nearest mixed recycling bin which may be in your building. Tip: Flatten your cardboard boxes and add to your mixed recycling

Contact us • to order free recycling bags or a container • to find your rubbish and recycling collection days and times • to find your nearest on-street micro recycling centre

Visit: Call: 020 7641 2000 Email: If you have a housing manager or caretaker please ask them for details of your rubbish and recycling services.




Young people launch antiZubair from Westminster took part in a youth project to help young people realise they have a choice when it comes to joining a gang. The young people worked with a designer and producer to create adverts, a radio ad, a website and a film with the message that the choices you make now may affect the rest of your life.

The Westminster Reporter |


he project was funded by £10,000 from the European Commission’s Justice Department and delivered by social enterprise, Inclusion. Zubair says: “When I heard about the project, I thought why not just try it and see how it is? So me and my friend went along to the first session and I really liked it. “I think it’s important to be involved because a lot of the time young people don’t get the chance to voice their opinions and decisions are made for us. For example, The Government took away Education Maintenance Allowance but they never asked us how that was going to impact on us. Nobody bothered to take a second and ask us how we felt, so I think it’s a really good opportunity for us. “We’ve produced a poster and advert that’s going to be on buses. We’ve produced soundtracks and we’re about to do a video. I think they are good ways of communicating with young

“Some young people feel that they’re alone and they shouldn’t. They need to understand that there is help available and that there’s always another choice.” Zubair

people because they are realistic. We’ve tried to make sure we’ve come at this from an angle that shows we’re professional and also to make it informal enough for young people to relate to it. “My favourite part was recording the sound tracks. I’ve definitely got an insight into video and music production, campaign work and graphic design. “We wanted to get across a strong message and make people listen to it. I think the reason we came up with the message was because it’s linked to life choices and education. There are lots of paths you

can take – you can become a hairdresser if you want to, or you can become a doctor but the most important thing is that you chose the path that’s right for you and not following the crowd. “Our campaign shows young people that they can look to the future and know that it can be better. You might have to live this way at the moment, but it won’t always be this way. You need to take your life into your own hands and make a difference. “I hope it will make at least one person change. The aim is to help young people understand that there are ways out of the situations you might be in. “I think that it’s an important message because some young people feel that they’re alone and they shouldn’t. They need to understand that there is help available and that there’s always another choice.” To find out more about this project visit yourchoice

Some of the young people who took part in the project


23 The Westminster Reporter |

i-gangs message One of the posters produced by the project


.indd 1 24/01/2013 14:49



Working towards success Eunice Acheampong, 23, from Victoria, was stuck in a 12-month cycle of endless job applications and closed doors. She had lost confidence in her ability and couldn’t get on the ladder to a successful career.

The Westminster Reporter |


ut all that changed when she was picked up by a London job brokerage project, Recruit West End, funded by Westminster City Council, the Crown Estate and the New West End Company who helped her secure a job at one of the top property agents in the UK, The Portman Estate. After a trial period she proved that she had the credentials, and importantly the desire, to carve out a career in property. “The scariest part of getting a job is the interview, because you have already put so much time and effort into searching and applying – everything rests on it. This is where the scheme helped me the most. “My work placement coordinator, Faheem, talked me through the interview and we practiced – it was huge for me in terms of confidence and really made

“The scariest part of getting a job is the interview... everything rests on it. This is where the scheme helped me the most.” Eunice Acheampong

a difference. I think it is the reason I am here today, I didn’t let any nerves get the better of me. As well as the interview techniques, the project helped me in applying for positions that were relevant to my skills and interests. “Portman have been fantastic and I have already been taught so much by being here. I now know I want to focus on a career in property and will be continuing to work in this sector.” Karen Wilson, Associate Director Property and Facilities Management at The Portman Estate,

In 2012/13 we helped find jobs, apprenticeships and work experience for more than 2,000 young people.

Eunice Acheampong (right) and Karen Wilson (left)

(pictured) interviewed and hired Eunice. “Where possible, we always look to employ local people who have the skills and the endeavour to succeed, and Recruit West End has been great for that. Eunice has been an excellent addition to the team and we believe she can carve out a career in property. We have been so

“Where possible, we always look to employ local people who have the skills and the endeavour to succeed.” Karen Wilson

impressed with her attitude and her professionalism. Faheem Qureshi, Eunice’s job broker, gives


Getting back into work Cornelius, 54, found it hard to get back into work after taking time out to care for his mother and has just started a job found through the council’s Westminster Works programme.


“Never give up looking for a job, and make sure you explore all avenues.” Faheem Qureshi

his advice for others looking for the right role: “Never give up looking for a job, and make sure you explore all avenues. It can

be as simple as going to the job centre or the library to ask what your options are, and to find out about organisations that are out there to help you, like ours.” Eunice has now been in her job for six months and is assured a position and training for at least the next 12 months.

For help with finding a job in Westminster visit: recruitwestminster

wasn’t eligible for Job Seekers Allowance as my wife is working and I started to feel like I would never get back into work again after such a long time out of the workforce.” “Mary from Westminster Works found out about the courier position with an agency, who needed someone responsible to carry passports and visas to and from the Passport Office. Mary was really pro-active and put me forward for the job before it was even advertised and it worked – I’ve been there for six weeks now.”

“I wouldn’t have known about the job, or even how to go about applying, if it wasn’t for Westminster Works so it was invaluable help.” Cornelius

“I wouldn’t have known about the job, or even how to go about applying, if it wasn’t for Westminster Works so it was invaluable help. I’m really enjoying the new job and can fit it around my home life, so things are working out well.”

For information about getting back into work visit westminsterworks

The Westminster Reporter |




Adult Social Care

Living well with dementia A new dementia resource centre is helping people remain independent, whilst also supporting their carers.

The Westminster Reporter |


nna Moses is the full time carer of her husband Wilmoth, 89, who has been living with dementia for two years. Wilmoth visits the newly opened state of the art Dementia Resource Centre at Westbourne Park Road three times a week. “Although he is quite quiet Wilmoth likes to join in the quizzes, bingo and exercise games that run at the new centre. He gets to choose what he does each day and as he loves music and loves listening to it at home he often chooses it as an activity at the centre. On Wilmoth’s birthday the centre celebrated with a party, he had wine and we danced in the garden. He enjoyed it so much he didn’t want to go home. My niece and I were also invited to join Wilmoth at the centre’s Christmas lunch. “I can see the benefits of him coming to the centre. The staff and other visitors give him company I can’t at home. When he’s there he feels better, he talks to people,

“The staff and other visitors give him company I can’t at home. When he’s there he feels better.” Anna Moses

he plays dominos and it keeps his mind active. “Caring full time for a family member can be difficult; I don’t have much time for myself these days. I used to sing in a choir and go to art classes, but since my husband got dementia I have had to stop going. Now that Wilmoth is coming regularly to this centre, I have got some time back and I am going to look into starting them up again. Also I now have time to meet up with people and go for the daily walks my doctor recommended to keep fit.” Maureen Murphy, 77, who lives alone is another visitor to the centre: “I think it’s marvellous. I come here four days a week and I love the company. Coming to the

Wilmoth (left) with his wife Anna

centre has helped me remain independent and I would be lost without it. I have made lots of new friends; I can, and do, talk to anyone and everyone. I like to chat to people whilst having a cup of tea, looking at the nice gardens”.

The state of the art Dementia Resource Centre is a joint council and NHS facility which opened its doors to Westminster residents at the end of November 2012. It offers a wide range of activities, information

Westminster PLUS


Your magazine to find out more about services for people aged 60+.


Stay active

ver 180 low-cost and free activities are on offer throughout the week at our Community Hubs for over 60s. Find out what’s on at your local Hub by calling Open Age on 020 7641 2012.

A new community transport service


Future of care homes

new Community Transport Service for older people launched this February is helping people who have difficulty using public transport get out and about at an affordable cost


and support to help people live well with dementia. Visitors can choose from enjoying tea and biscuits whilst chatting in the

dining area overlooking the beautiful gardens, or getting creative in a baking class or painting session.

To find out if you are eligible to attend the centre, call Adult Social Care on: 020 7641 1444, or visit For more information about living with dementia visit memoryservice

o make sure we are providing care homes which give older people independence, privacy and quality care the council and NHS will be making some changes to their care homes in Westminster. New specialist care homes will be built and existing council and NHS owned homes will be redeveloped. These changes will increase care for those with dementia, and provide additional extra care housing to give people more independence. People living in a care home that is affected by the changes will be involved in deciding where to move, and will be involved in designing the new buildings. For more details visit westminster.

To find out more about the service call 020 8964 1114, weekdays, between 1- 4pm.

Free TV license


f you are aged 75 or over you do not need to pay for your TV license. To claim your free license call 0300 790 6073 or visit uk/over75

Tell us your thoughts on our Adult Social Care Charter Our Adult Social Care Charter sets out our promise that every person using our services will be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. Now we want to hear what you think of it. Visit charter to give your feedback online and find out more about the charter.

If you are over 60 and would like to receive Westminster Plus magazine, please call 020 7641 3111.

You and a friend can join in any activity at your local Community Hub for free. Visit for details

The Westminster Reporter |



Public Health

Helping each other to live healthier lives From April this year, local councils will have responsibility for the Public Health of their area. Part of this responsibility includes promoting healthy living and lifestyles to residents. Westminster’s Community Champion volunteers have already been taking a lead on this.

The Westminster Reporter |


mma Sweeney, 39, is a Community Champion on the Mozart Estate. She’s lived in Queen’s Park all her life, and is the fifth generation of her family to do so. “I’ve been volunteering in my local area for six or seven years, including with the Paddington Development Trust, who specialise in urban regeneration all over the north of Westminster. I’m also an elected resident board member of the Queen’s Park forum. “The Mozart Estate’s Community Champions programme began in October 2012. All the champions are local volunteers who work to pass on important health advice to residents, like promoting general wellbeing through exercise classes at local leisure centres. Our first big project was on children’s dental health. Unfortunately, children under the age of eight on the Mozart Estate tend to have very bad dental health, with many having to have extractions at the local hospital. We help to encourage residents to register with their local dentist, go and get a check

“We go round door to door, visit local schools and run family learning events... So it can be fun as well as useful! ” Emma Sweeney

up, and educate them about good dental health. We also do research into why residents aren’t getting registered with their local dentists. It might just be lack of knowledge or information – they might not know what to do or where to go for information. “We go round door to door, visit local schools and run family learning events with fun activities and information about important health messages. So it can be fun as well as useful! We hand out little goody bags with toothbrushes and toothpaste with the correct fluoride content. People trust us because we’re locals, and they’re more willing to listen to us than to a random person knocking on their door. After all, who knows better what goes on in the area

Emma Sweeney (left)

than the people who live here themselves? “The messages are definitely getting across. If it prevents kids having their milk teeth extracted it’s definitely worth it. “Being a Champion you get all kinds of training and ongoing support. I know a few people who have gone on to work in different areas with the training they got as a

champion. But it’s also great fun and very empowering, and it really helps to boost your confidence if you’ve been out of work for a while and you want to play a positive role in your local area. You get to work with and meet so many lovely people, and it’s nice to be able to help them. Plus, I work with a great team who are always great fun!”

To find out more or to volunteer, contact the Mozart Estate Community Champions on 020 8964 8024 or email

Young people

Blerta Bashira, 18, from Little Venice, is Westminster’s new Youth MP. Having beaten seven other candidates in this year’s elections that involved over 2,800 young voters, she tells us about her plans to get young people’s voices heard.


hope that by becoming a Youth MP (YMP) young people can see politics as something open to everyone. It should not be seen as a chore or a field reserved for the elite. My decision to run for election was also borne out of frustration at how seemingly powerless young people are to make that change. We’re not going to change the world in a few days but we can get our voices heard, and I see it as my responsibility to project these voices. “One issue that I feel can and should be addressed is the relationship between Westminster’s young people and the police. There is a lot of hostility, which shouldn’t be the case. “I feel it’s important as a YMP to be a role model. I know from first-hand experience the importance of having a role model or someone you can look up to. I was lucky enough to have a great mentor who has had a huge impact on me and my success so far. It is incredibly important,

“I feel it’s important as a yMP to be a role model. I know from first-hand experience the importance of having a role model or someone you can look up to.” Blerta Bashira

Blerta Bashira

especially for teenagers who may not have enough support, to be able to look up to someone, see that great things can be accomplished and that there is hope for a better future. I feel that because I am representative of a large number of young people in Westminster, they can see that through hard work and perseverance, you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

Blerta encourages young people who want to be more active in their community to look out for what is going on in their area and start attending political events or youth council meetings. “It’s great to see how strongly participants feel about certain issues and what actions they’re taking. There are also youth

council meetings young people can go to. The easiest thing would be to just have general discussions amongst peers about issues of concern and, of course, pass views on to me. I’m keen to hear of any new suggestions or problems that young people are having in their communities.”

If you would like to contact the Westminster Youth MP, please contact: Simeon Earnshaw, Senior Practitioner- Participation, on 020 7641 1048 or email:

The Westminster Reporter |

Getting young people heard



Community focus

Over to you

Meet the people who are involved in their local area, creating better lives by giving something back to their community.

Ros Brooks, 29, has been volunteering as a ‘befriender’ since April 2012 and visits Vera at least once a week at her home in Maida Vale.


found out about the befriending service online while looking for a volunteering role. I first got involved because I wanted to give something back, I wanted to do something kind. At first I was nervous, being in a one on one

“I first wanted to get involved... to give something back, I wanted to do something kind.”

The Westminster Reporter |

Ros Brooks

situation, as it’s quite an unusual arrangement but I was accompanied by Gillian, the volunteer coordinator from the Octavia Foundation, who really helped to put us both at ease. Once I got there and met Vera everything changed and I felt really comfortable around her. We do lots of different things together, we used to go for nice walks into town, go for a coffee, and sometimes practice yoga. “I really like being a befriender because I have made a great new friend out of it. Vera is like a grandparent to me now and a true friend. It’s fantastic having a good friendship with an older person – it gives

Vera Williams (left) with Ros Brooks

you a different perspective on life. “I usually spend one or two Mavis Aird andwith DoreenVera Green (right) hours a (left) week and seeing how this small amount of time can make a difference to someone’s life is a real eye opener. I would recommend others to volunteer and become a befriender – a little bit of effort to do something good can help others and give you confidence in your own life to do new things too!” Vera Williams, aged 89, has benefitted from the scheme: “Somebody recommended the befriending scheme to me so I gave them a call. Gillian came to my house a couple of times and met with me first. She said that she’d found someone

Interested in befriending? Since the new outreach and befriending programme began in late 2011, more than 70 older people have benefitted from the service. There are still lots of people like Vera who are on the waiting list for befrienders, and the Octavia Foundation is always looking for volunteers. If you would like to help contact Gillian on 020 8354 5681 or email

she thought I’d get on with. The next time she came round, she brought Ros with her. She obviously had a very good eye for it – Ros and I are a good fit, I think it’s wonderful she has the patience with me, and we get on really well. “Ros has been coming to see me for about a year now.

She comes over and we talk and we’ve established a solid friendship. We have similar interests and generally enjoy ourselves! “I would recommend the scheme to anyone, no one forces you to spend time with just one person, but it so happens the first person I met suited me perfectly.”

Volunteer Centre Westminster also runs a befriending scheme and they recruit and train volunteers. For more information contact

Could you

Foster siblings like us? Siblings should have the opportunity to stay together in foster care. To find out more about fostering get in touch.

Freephone 0800 169 3497 /adoptionandfostering /fostering

Open day 28th February!

Adult learning

in the heart of the city

We offer courses at over 80 different locations across Westminster, and with over 1,000 courses from Accounting to Zumba, you are sure to find a course you’ll love. visit or call 020 7723 2657

NEW: Free ESOL English courses in 2013!

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