In Conversation with Nickie AikenApr 01, 2022
Policing and crime in Westminster
Superintendent Beth Pirie joined the Met recently from Hampshire Police, and now leads Westminster's Neighbourhood Policing. I caught up with her on a range of pressing issues from licensing and public order in the West End, policing at night, my crime and anti-social behaviour survey, and the culture within the Met.
Talking HIV and Hepatitis C with Philip Baldwin
For Pride Month, I caught up with human rights and LGBTQ+ campaigner Philip Baldwin in Soho. Philip also campaigns and raises awareness of HIV. He was diagnosed with HIV during a routine check-up and he was later diagnosed with Hepatitis C. Thankfully, neither are the life sentences they once were — and with the proper diagnosis and treatment, you can lead a very healthy life. Philip joins me in this episode, and remember, if you’ve been affected, there is lots of information out there.
Useful information from NHS UK:
Meet Two Cities Hero Jens Jakobsen
For the latest in my Two Cities Heroes series, I speak to Jens Jakobsen — a local florist and the most amazing urban gardener. He has the most beautiful garden with over 150 different plants and a huge onion tree right in heart of Victoria just behind City Hall. I myself discovered it just by walking past one day. Everybody is welcome so if you need a quiet spot to think, read a book or just relax and just get away from it all, make sure you pay it a visit. Jens joins me in this episode.
Fertility in the workplace at Zurich
Zurich Insurance were one of the first companies to sign up to my recently launched Fertility Workplace Pledge — the idea behind it is to get employers of all shapes and sizes to sign up to a set of basic principles that improve the workplace rights for people going through treatment. I was delighted to visit the team in their City office — and their Head of People, Steve Collinson, joined me on my community podcast to explain why they signed up and how it is going.
Meet Two Cities Hero Hamza Taouzzale
Meet Hamza Taouzzale — Hamza was born in Westminster, and is now our First Citizen. He has broken the mould by becoming the youngest Lord Mayor and the first from an ethnic minority background. He’s a Two Cities Hero — and he joined me in this episode.
Meet Two Cities Hero Caz Gandy-Brown
In the next of my Two Cities Heroes series, I went to The Abbey Centre, run by the fantastic Caz Gandy-Brown. It’s an incredible hub serving our Westminster community which hosts activity groups, a social supermarket and so much more. Caz joins me in this episode
Two Cities Heroes — Meet Rabbi Morris
For the latest in my Two Cities Heroes conversations series, I met up with Rabbi Morris at Bevis Marks. If you haven’t been, Bevis Marks is situated in the heart of our City and is believed to be the longest continuously operating synagogue in the world. Rabbi Morris has been busy overseeing the restoration of the old building, the synagogue is now complete for everyone to visit — and I can tell you it looks stunning!
Better workplace support for people undergoing IVF
I’m pushing a Bill through try and get better workplace support for people going through IVF. Infertility affects 3.5 million people in the UK, it affects people of all backgrounds and ethnicities, and did you know it affects more men than women? I was joined by Anya Sizer from Fertility Network UK and racing driver TAG Toby Trice in this episode, to discuss this further.
Two Cities Heroes - Meet Jeremy Goring
Meet Jeremy Goring - a member of the Goring family, who owns the Goring Hotel in Victoria, and they are helping people who have been homeless into careers in hospitality. They provide work experience, mentoring and introductions to employers.
Two Cities Heroes - Meet Christabel Flight
I talk to Christabel Flight for the next episode in my Two Cities Heroes series. Christabel is an old people's champion, a former Councillor, and a true hero!
Two Cities May digest
Acoustic cameras to deal with supercars; better support for people juggling IVF treatment and careers; and regulating pedicabs — here's a round-up of my work over the past month.
Two Cities Heroes - Meet John Fletcher
Meet John Fletcher - he's a Common Councillor and he has done some incredible work for the local community over many years. I met him at Aldgate Square for the latest in my Two Cities Heroes conversations.
Two Cities Heroes - Meet Jane Buttigieg
MEET THE TWO CITIES HEROES! This year marks my 25th year of living in the Two Cities, and to celebrate this special anniversary, I am beginning a series of conversations with the local people who are doing incredible things and make it so special. We kick off the series with Jane Buttigieg. You may have seen Jane at The Cave in Pimlico, and she is a Pimlico legend. Thank you to Jane for everything she is doing for our community - and she joins me in this episode.
Improving IVF support in the workplace
Did you know 1 in 6 couples are affected by infertility and it cuts through all socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities? Undergoing IVF treatment while juggling a career is tough - over 36% of staff undergoing treatment have considered leaving their job. We need to improve IVF support in the workplace. In my this episode I talk to Becky Kearns and Claire Ingle from Fertility Matters at Work - they educate businesses and organisations about the reality of IVF at work. I'm also joined by Natalie Sutherland from Burgess Mee, a law firm that helps families with fertility law.
We have got to take our online safety as seriously as our physical safety. I’m working with colleagues in government to make sure scams are included in the forthcoming Online Harms Bill. People are sadly losing thousands of pounds via fraudulent advertising, emails, texts and cloned websites. Some have lost their entire life savings, their mental health has suffered, and there have even been cases of suicide. Debt charity StepChange is working to help victims - Petter Tutton, their head of policy, joins me on this episode of my community podcast.
Making short term lets work for the community
Short term lets on sites like Booking.com, Tripadvisor and Airbnb have a big impact on our neighbourhoods in Westminster. I was joined by Cllr Ian Adams from Westminster City Council, and we got together some residents from the Hyde Park Estate to listen to their stories, discuss what more we can do to make the system work for them, and I updated them on my progress with Airbnb and government ministers.
Looking after your pets after lockdown
If you’re worried about returning back to the office post-pandemic and leaving your pet at home alone then this podcast is essential listening! Pleased to be joined by Ryan Neile from Blue Cross animal hospital and Kit the Dutch Shepherd to discuss lockdown, impulse buying animals, separation anxiety and all things pets!
Ending the taboo on menopause
Did you know 12 million women in the UK are currently going through the menopause, I am one of them, and it can be very tough. We need much better awareness and support in society - especially in our workplaces. I got together Dr Wendy Denning (a private GP), Livia Francis (health and fitness expert), and Tanuj Kapilashrami (the global head of HR at Standard Chartered Bank) to discuss what more we can do - and I’m going to put their brilliant suggestions to ministers who are leading a call for evidence to improve women’s health.
Q&A with Hampden Gurney primary school
Schools are now thankfully back in action, but I want to take a moment to thank every single teacher in The Two Cities who have done an amazing job over the challenging past few weeks in keeping our children learning. I recently joined Hampden Gurney pupils for a virtual Q&A - and boy did they put me through my paces!
Get reading for World Book Day
This Thursday (4th March 2021) is World Book Day - which is all about encouraging children (and adults) to read. In this episode I'm joined by Cassie Chadderton who is the Chief Executive of this important initiative, and David Shelley who heads up leading UK publishing group Hachette UK. We discuss our favourite reads, why it's never too late to pick up a book, and why the UK excels in publishing.
Vaccine discussion with the Bengali community
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) recently published a report that found 57% of black, Asian and minority ethnic people said they would take a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 79% of white people. One reasons for this is a number of rumours being spread about the vaccine within some BAME communities. I recently sat down with representatives from the Bengali community in Pimlico to discuss the vaccine and the rumours being spread about it..
Pressure on the Capital's hospitals
London’s hospitals are under a lot of pressure from Covid right now. One of the Capital's hospitals for instance normally has 44 intensive care beds - today they are ventilating over 120 patients. Jeremy Cordingley, a consultant in intensive care medicine works at St Bartholomew’s Hospital - he joins me in this episode to explain what they’re dealing with. We can help them by staying at home.
Coming back to the office
Central London is struggling without its office workers supporting their coffee shops, sandwich bars, pubs and theatres. People need to feel safe using public transport and we need to encourage them back to work even if it’s for part of the week. I brought together some of our major employers in the City and the West End, who between them have tens of thousands of staff, and we discussed practical solutions. Thanks to Linklaters, Landsec, Hippodrome, Brookfield, British Land and New West End Company for taking part.
Reviving the central London economy
Our fantastic and vibrant city of London needs all the support it can get from visitors and returning workers as it gradually recovers. Joining me to discuss the Central London economy are: Sir Nick Kenyon from the Barbican Centre, Ruth Duston from Cheapside Business Alliance, and Gareth Banner who runs the Ned in Poultry (where we record this episode).
West End - Open for Businesses
Covid has put our theatres and cultural venues in a perilous position. As things stand, 70 per cent of theatres and cultural venues will run out of cash by the end of the year. If these theatres and venues do not survive, the entire West End ecosystem is at risk of collapse. Theatres bring in visitors who stay in hotels, visit bars, eat at restaurants and go shopping. In this episode, I'm joined by the Royal Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Society of London Theatre, UKHospitality, and Heart of London Business Alliance - and together we've drawn up a West End recovery plan.
Coronavirus community information: City of London Corporation
Did you know 98 per cent of businesses in the City are small and medium sized firms? They, along with the banks and larger companies, are going to be crucial in leading the whole of the UK to recovery once we beat this pandemic. Pleased to be joined by Catherine McGuinness from the City of London Corporation to discuss this and more. Once again, please forgive the sound quality as I’m recording these remotely to keep everyone safe at this time.
Coronavirus community information: Westminster Council
I’m proud to see Westminster pulling together to look after vulnerable and isolated people as we get through this horrific COVID-19 crisis. I’m pleased to be joined by Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster Council, to discuss some of the challenges the community is facing - as well as how you can get involved in the huge volunteering effort. Forgive the audio quality, these episodes are being recorded remotely to keep everyone safe and we are getting the info out in as real time as possible.
Screening our newborn babies
Did you know we only test our newborn babies for 9 diseases in the UK, compared to 30, 40 or even 50 diseases in countries like Italy, Portugal and America? We are lagging behind - and if we don't act now, we risk our children becoming the sick kids of Europe, at risk of severe disability or even death. Join me as I talk to Georgina Morton from Archangel MLD trust and Bobby Gaspar, Professor of Paediatrics and Immunology at UCL about what we need to do.