Sarah Lynn reflects on winning The Apprentice and reveals how to be a successful female leader

Sarah Lynn reflects on winning The Apprentice and reveals how to be a successful female leader


In 2017 Sarah walked away as one of two winners in a historic £500,000 ‘double hiring’. In celebration of International Leadership Week, the businesswoman talks Lord Sugar, mum guilt and maternity leave stigma

female leader

Two years ago Sarah Lynn’s life changed forever when Lord Sugar said the words ‘you’re hired’ in The Apprentice boardroom. In a first for the BBC One show, Lord Sugar hired both Sarah and James White to be his next business partners. Since then, 38-year-old Sarah’s business, Sweets in the City, has grown from strength to strength, supplying beautifully-packaged gifts to sweet lovers all over the UK…

What leadership skills have you learned from being a female boss?

You have to master tenacity to be a good leader. You can’t let things go, and must be really persistent. Patience and empathy is also important. The best leaders are those who understand that every one of their employees is different and don’t just have one way of working. Finally, practicing what you preach is really important. If you’re expecting someone to stack boxes for three hours you should be ready to do it yourself.

Is the world comfortable with female world leaders and CEOs?

My experience has been positive. Being female has never stopped me winning a contract, I wouldn’t allow it to. But obviously there is a long way to go. I have friends in the legal profession and if they take time out to have a baby, they say it’s tough for them to get back in and be seen as a leader again.

How do you balance being a mum and working full-time?

I strive for integration. I might work really long hours in some people’s eyes but I’ll make a gap between 5 and 7pm and put the boys to bed, and then after I might put the laptop back on. I’m still there and present. The key is to not see work as separate from life. That’s how I manage it and I think a lot of leaders do the same.

Is mum guilt real?

Sadly, yes. I’ve got two sons, a five-year-old called Edward and a five-month-old called Oliver. With my eldest the mum guilt was just awful, but with my second I’ve learned from the first experience and dropped the guilt quite early. I know I’m a good mum. Everything I do is for the boys. I want them to have a good life because I work hard.

How involved is your husband when it comes to childcare?

We are 50 50 partners in everything we do. He works in construction and sometimes he has a bit more flexibility than I do. But we do have help as well. We have a nanny for the boys now we have two. Plus my mum is a registered child-minder and helps out too. Sharing the boys out has made them confident, independent and adaptable – and I take pride in that.

Did you take maternity leave?

I gave birth at the end of May and we were launching a new product in the first week of July, so I didn’t take leave then. I was on emails the next day and breastfeeding at work in the coming weeks. But when we had some downtime I took the month of August off.

Is there stigma for working women wishing to take maternity leave?

For me, it was my business and my choice to be at work. It was a pressure I put on myself, but my friends have said to me they had to do ‘all or nothing’. Take a year off or take no time off at all. I don’t think this is the healthiest balance, it would be great in the future if flexitime could exist better.

Could improvements be made regarding office childcare and working mums?

Yes, I find it amazing that more isn’t done. Women are so integral to the work force and to lose somebody good because the hours don’t quite work is madness. You lose the best talent. Where businesses can be flexible they should be. They will more than get the return from that.

How did going on The Apprentice help your business, Sweets in the City, become a success? 

I feel lucky to have Lord Sugar as a mentor. He is incredibly fair, direct and helpful.

What did you learn about yourself from taking part in the show? 

So much! I found the business tasks quite straightforward and relatively simple, but the process was ruthless and, at times, overwhelming. I learnt to speak up more, toughen up and not to criticise a plan if I didn’t have a better alternative.

What is your advice for future female candidates?

Don’t get caught up in catty behaviour. It gives women a bad name because we fight stereotypes around this daily. It’s embarrassing.

What empowering female figures do you look up to?

My mum as a starting point. In terms of famous faces, Karen Brady and Michelle Obama.

What are your hopes for the future when it comes to the gender pay gap?

I find it incredibly strange that we are still talking about it. I wish equality was the norm, and not a subject needing to be discussed. Businesses need to just employ the best people for the job, and pay them equally. I’m desperate for us to get to that place.

To shop Sarah’s sweets, see sweetsinthecity.co.uk

 

 

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Dr Sonia Adesara: 'Speak out, sometimes being a troublemaker is a good thing'

Dr Sonia Adesara: 'Speak out, sometimes being a troublemaker is a good thing'


In honour of International Leadership Week 2019, we share the story of Sonia Adesara, a junior doctor and campaigner who believes everybody should have access to healthcare

Sonia Adesara
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As part of the Doctors For Choice UK team, Dr Sonia Adesara campaigns for the decriminalisation of abortion. The #AskHerToStand director is also passionate about encouraging women from diverse backgrounds to enter politics, as well as ending NHS charging for migrants and reducing racism in hospitals.

Tragedy shaped my career. My aunt died in hospital when she was 23 and, to this day, we don’t know why. After investigating, my mother was told her sister’s notes had ‘got lost’. This made me want to provide the best possible care to every patient. Sometimes, being a troublemaker is a good thing. Don’t be afraid to speak out. I use Twitter as a way of getting views out and raising awareness. 
I also do the tweets for Doctors For Choice UK, trying to counter misinformation and share facts around abortion. I remember learning at school that, prior to the NHS, people used to die of preventable illnesses because they couldn’t afford healthcare. I think I knew then that it was something I wanted to be part of.

Find your inspiration. My grandma shaped my career and life. Born in a village in India, her parents died when she was eight, and she was married off to a much older and abusive man. As a teenager, she left him and arrived in Uganda illiterate and with a baby, determined to make a better life. When I find myself questioning myself or what people think of me, I think of her. She didn’t make those sacrifices for me to take my privileges for granted.

Be curious. A couple of years ago, I volunteered for an outreach clinic in London and saw the impact a hostile environment, NHS charging and immigration policies have on people living on our streets. A young woman who’d been trafficked told me she was too scared to get help in case she was detained or deported. The experience made 
me adamant that our immigration policies were wrong and inhumane, and led me to campaign with other doctors to end them.

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Taking the leap to go freelance? Emma Gannon offers her top 8 budgeting tips

Taking the leap to go freelance? Emma Gannon offers her top 8 budgeting tips


Author and broadcaster Emma Gannon lets us in on the secrets of staying money savvy in the world of self-employment

Paul Storie

In a modern climate of hyperconnectivity and a closer corporate focus on emotional wellbeing, the world is rapidly adapting to the idea of flexible working. In fact, according to research carried out by NatWest (in partnership with cross-party think tank Demos), since 2008, the number of highly skilled female freelancers has grown by 67%, as increasingly more of us are trading in our traditional nine-to-fives’ to join the ‘liquid workforce’ – a group including anyone that chooses to dip their toe into the exotic sea of self-employment.

Although making the move to freelance is an exciting process, it’s hard not to get bogged down by concerns that you needn’t consider in the traditional workforce, such as figuring out how to pay your own salary or finding the right pension scheme for you.

Here to ease your freelance woes is Emma Gannon, host of award-winning podcast, Ctrl, Alt, Delete. Emma, a freelancer of four years, has linked up with NatWest to launch a new guide for freelancers to help them work out their next move. Covering everything from time-management, to personal finances and ‘finding your tribe’, here are Emma’s top tips on leaping into the unknown territory of freelance employment…

1. Open up a business bank account

‘The first thing I did after going freelance was set up a company – as it’s a great way of having both a business and a personal account. I have my personal account, which covers all my personal finances, and then all my work-related payments go in and out of my business account. Keeping separate accounts will allow you to have the work/life separation that you can sometimes lose when you’re self-employed.’

2. Pay yourself a salary

‘Once you’ve separated your business and personal bank accounts, pay yourself a monthly salary into your personal one. Even if you’ve worked with a big client and had a good income that month, it’s important to keep the amount consistent to even out the ‘lumpy’ salary that many freelancers are all too familiar with. If you’d like to book a holiday or treat yourself and pay more one month, then even it out by paying yourself less the following month to stagger the amount out throughout the year.’

3. Enlist help with invoices

‘Working out your own invoices will eat up a lot of valuable time. When first starting out, you mightn’t be able to hire an accountant for your invoicing, but there are some great tools available to help you out. You can open a digital business account with Natwest called Mettle, which helps you create and send invoices. Software such as FreeAgent is also available to automatically chase overdue invoices, so you don’t have to worry about tarnishing any relationships by constantly chasing for money owed. Remember to remind contractors of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act (1998), which means you have the right to charge interest on overdue accounts.’

4. Spreadsheets are your best friend

‘The upside of going freelance is that I’ve never been more on top of my finances in my life. It’s very manual in terms of having to work our your own taxes and VAT (if you need to register this), but as long as you have some sort of spreadsheet that explains all of the different figures, you can track what you’ve saved throughout the year and look at putting any excess funds into a pension.’

5. Manage your time effectively

‘The amazing thing about running your own business is you can work whenever you want, but it’s up to you to put down those boundaries so you’re not constantly on the clock. I work better in the evenings, so if it means having a slow morning and then being really productive later on then that works for me. I also focus on one thing at a time rather than trying to multi-task.’

6. Find your tribe

To avoid feeling lonely, I work from co-working spaces because you can recreate that office vibe very easily being around likeminded people. It’s not just about going there, sitting at your desk and leaving without talking to anyone – they hold events where you can make new business connections. There are plenty of apps such as The Wing and WeWork that connect you to other people. It takes a bit of work initially, but once you find your tribe of fellow freelancers it’s amazing.’

 7. Work on your personal brand

‘If you’re keen to maximise on your earning potential, focus first on your personal brand – there are so many other freelancers out there doing the same job as you, so why should that contractor pick you? It’s important to realise what your unique offering is, be it by investing into your website or the way you come across to new potential contacts. Put yourself at the centre and celebrate why you’re the best person for the job.’

8. Don’t be afraid to talk about money

‘I always encourage people to speak in actual numbers to their fellow community of freelancer friends. At dinner the other night with some friends, we talked about what we were earning and discovered that one of us had actually been unfairly paid. If you’re someone that believes in equality and helping other people out, it’s important to be honest about the money side of things.’

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Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn on her incurable cancer and why she’s determined to make a difference

Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn on her incurable cancer and why she’s determined to make a difference


Nicola is Facebook’s vice president EMEA, one of the most powerful women in the UK tech industry, but in 2016 she was told she had cancer. Now the 48-year-old mum of four tells Marie Claire why her new charity, Follicular Lymphoma Foundation, will help others by funding research for a cure…

Nicola Mendelsohn
Feminist Portfolio

‘Some say that when something really bad happens to you, it’s as if time stands still. For me, it was the complete opposite. On November 16th, 2016 I was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma which is an incurable blood cancer. I was only 45. All these thoughts came rushing through my head. Would I see my kids become adults? Would I meet my grandchildren? Was I going to die and how long did I have left?

The diagnosis was a complete shock. I was fit and healthy and I didn’t even feel ill. As Facebook’s Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, I was used to a life constantly on the move. The only sign something was up was a small lump in my groin which was the size of a pea. It was only when I was sent for a scan that the true horror revealed itself and I saw there were tumours throughout my body.

Telling my kids was the hardest moment of my life. How do you explain that not only do you have cancer but that it’s also incurable? As a mum you’re meant to be a rock but I felt like I was falling apart. Luckily they coped amazingly with the news. They tell me they take their cues from me and that as long as I’m doing fine, they’re doing fine too.

We know very little about Follicular Lymphoma compared to other types of cancer. The life expectancy varies a lot. You could live for 20 years but then again, I’ve heard stories of people dying within a year of being diagnosed. Neither prognosis feels acceptable if you’re only in your 40s like I am.

Nicola Mendelsohn

There are two things about my cancer that seem to constantly surprise people. The first is that I don’t look physically ill. When you think of cancer patients, normally you think of people losing all of their hair which hasn’t been the case for me. Follicular Lymphoma has been described as an ‘invisible cancer’ because you often appear well between treatments even though you’re living with the disease. This can be a hard thing for people to get their head around.

It isn’t like other cancers, where you immediately go into a gruelling treatment regime. It’s a slow-growing cancer, so patients can go for long periods without treatment and can have long gaps between treatments too.

The second thing that surprises people is that I continue to work full-time. Getting cancer forced me to take a long hard look at my life but I realised there was nothing I wanted to rip up and start again. Work is a huge part of my identity and it’s something that gives me energy rather than saps it. I’ve had to make some changes, including being kinder to my body. I used to be a complete sweet addict and I absolutely hated exercise but now I’ve given up the sweets and taken up the Pilates.You want your body to be as strong as it can be when you’re going through cancer treatment.

Luckily Facebook has been very supportive. The immediate reaction was ‘we’ll look after you’ and there’s been so many little acts of kindness  – everything from colleagues offering ginger sweets to help deal with nausea to being given lavender to help me sleep. I’m very open about my cancer at work. I think it’s so important as a leader to show that you’re vulnerable like everyone else. I’ve had three CEOs get in touch privately to say they have the same cancer as me and I wonder what an impact it must have on them to hide such a big thing? Too often leaders only admit to having been ill after they’ve recovered but that makes other people feel that they can’t talk about their vulnerabilities either and it creates a lot of stress for everyone.

Nicola Mendelsohn

I’m lucky that I have the support of colleagues as well as amazing friends and family. When I was having treatment, I was told that when the chemo makes you feel exhausted, the very best thing you can do is to go for a walk. I’m so grateful that my family ran an informal rota to make sure that one of them would walk with me every single day. Even when I felt at my absolute worst those walks with each of my children were incredibly special as they were cherished time when we could chat together.

I’m also part of an incredible Facebook group called Living with Follicular Lymphoma for people who have the disease around the world. I’m now a co-admin of the group and it’s nearly 6,000 strong and the biggest group of its kind. It’s an unbelievable source of support and advice. I’m lucky to live in London where there’s so many cancer specialists but that’s not the same everywhere. In the group we can share what we learn with one another. We ask each other all sorts of questions, everything from ‘will I lose my hair during chemo?’ to ‘why am I having nose bleeds?’ Lifelong friendships have been formed through the group. For example, one member posted in the group about how he was struggling with treatment and feeling lonely. Now another member who happens to have treatment in the same hospital sits with him throughout his treatment and they go for lunch together.

One of the most difficult things about living with Follicular Lymphoma is how little progress has been made to find a cure especially as there are so many advances in science and treatment for so many other cancers and diseases. Follicular Lymphoma remains incurable despite hundreds of thousands of people suffering from it. The last major breakthrough in science was in 1975 which led to much better treatment becoming widely available in 1998. But with all the breakthroughs in research FL treatment has been left behind. I’m desperate for this to change and I’m in the fortunate position that I, working with some great allies, can try and make a difference. That’s why I’m launching a new charity – the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation – to try and find a cure. And to do it quickly. Based on all the work we have done to find out what is going on and who and where we can do the science and clinical work, my goal is to raise £15 million in the next three years to help fund targeted and advanced research into the disease and to be deep into trials. It’s a big ambition but one I’m determined to achieve.

My life used to be a quest for work–life balance. These days it’s all about work–life–cancer. I hope the payoff is finding a cure within the next ten years so that everyone living with Follicular Lymphoma can live well and get well.

* To help Nicola raise funds for a cure, please find out more from the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation at: www.theflf.org. Facebook: @FollicularLymphomaFoundation. Instagram: @FollicularLymphomaFoundation. Twitter: @Cure_FL. Please hashtag across all channels: #CureFL*

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Equal Pay Day 2019: Yes, you’re now effectively working for free until Christmas

Equal Pay Day 2019: Yes, you’re now effectively working for free until Christmas


Fancy being paid a lower salary than a man doing exactly the same job as you? Chances are, you are. Marisa Bate investigates what action you can take…

equal pay day
Getty Images

It’s that time of year again! Down tools and march out of the office in the soul-crushing knowledge that today is the day in which the average man has earned the amount the average women will over the course of the *entire* year. From now until Christmas, you are essentially working for free. Here we are in 2019; robots are tweeting, cars are driving themselves yet women are still paid less than men for the very same work.

The issue of unequal pay has been in the headlines a lot lately. High profile journalists such as Carrie Gracie and more recently Samira Ahmed have claimed they have being paid unfairly by the BBC based on their gender, and 12 more BBC employees look set to take the corporation to tribunal. Ahmed launched a landmark case this month, demanding £500,000 in backpay, because for the equivalent show, Jeremy Vine was being paid £3,000 per episode, and she was receiving £440. At this point, the BBC have not conceded this is a case of gender discrimination.

In recent years, as the BBC has been forced to publish their list of stars’ salaries, it has become startling clear the way that organisations – even those which are publicly funded and meant to be run transparently – value womens’ work in comparison with men. This is is even starker for women of colour, and if you weren’t privately educated.

Equal Pay Day

Samira Ahmed (Getty Images)

For Sam Smethers, CEO of Fawcett, it comes down to “the lack of value we place on women,” she says. ‘It goes back generations, centuries old. If women do the work, then it is valued less. Research evidence shows that when women move into male dominated sectors, the pay in those sectors falls. It’s a really deep attitudinal problem that we have about women and their work’.

Today [14 Nov] Fawcett are publishing research which shows that 60% of women in workplaces across the UK either don’t know what their male colleagues earn, or believe they are earning less than men who are doing the same job. Based on these stats, they are launching their #RightToKnow campaign in which they are calling for a legal right to find out the salaries of the colleague or colleagues you suspect are being paid more than you for the same work. In doing so, they asking people to sign and share a petition started by chef Kay Collins, a victim of pay discrimination herself.

Smethers says: ‘In order to pursue equal pay, you need to know what your male comparator colleague is earning. If you don’t have the information, you can’t get to first base. It really is the fundamental building block to achieve equal pay. And we know a lot of employers don’t cooperate with women raising these complaints. They’ll either stonewall them and not give them any information, or they’ll say, ‘Oh, well, he deserves more than you’, and justify it on those terms. It’s not possible for women to realise thier right to equal pay if they can’t get that information.’

Research published recently confirms the different way we perceive men and women in the workplace. The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Ipsos Mori and the Policy Institute asked 20,000 people for 28 countries in an effort to understand what helps or hinders women’s equality. The research found that women are expected to be “more intelligent” and “work harder” than men to get ahead.

So, in short, we value women less but expect them to deliver more – and pay them less for it. Meanwhile, another new report has said that one in every two FTSE 100 executive appointments over the next year will have to go to women if the UK is to meet its gender targets. Seemingly, therefore, the targets are getting tougher because the ingrained cultural attitude doesn’t seem to be shifting.

Rebecca Burke, who led TalkTalk’s cybersecurity program, spent her family savings on taking the company to court after she was made redundant and found that her four male colleagues in the same role were paid up to 40% more in salary and 50% more in bonuses. Her first trial, scheduled for December, fell apart for legal reasons but she is now crowdfunding to raise the necessary £40,000 to continue proceedings. Speaking in the Telegraph she said ‘It’s a lonely existence as an individual fighting an entire organisation – and the systemic problems in society,’she says. ‘But as soon as I went public, a wave of women reached out to say the exact same thing had happened to them. I misinterpreted it – this isn’t a personal struggle, but a collective one.’

The move to tackle the gender pay gap feels that it is gaining a more collective momentum in a #MeToo age. Michelle Williams gave a moving speech at this year’s Emmys, thanking her ‘bosses’. She said, ‘They understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. So the next time a woman, especially a woman of colour – because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart – tells you what she needs in order to do her job, believe her’. Other campaigning groups are forming, like the MeTooPay campaign, started by Dame Moya Greene, former CEO of Royal Mail, and over 100 of the UK’s leading women in October 2019. Greene was prompted to launch the initiative after reading of a sex discrimination and unequal pay case involving Stacey Macken, who worked at BNP Paribas. The campaign intends to use its high-profile signatories to raise awareness and offer support.

equal pay day

Getty Images

Next year will see the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act in the UK, but as Smethers says, currently ‘it is a right in name only’. Does she get tired of still fighting for what seems so basic and fundamental? She lets out a laugh. ‘It is frustrating. It feels like groundhog day. I just want to go aggghhhhh!!! What do I have to say and do to shift this bloody problem?!’

So what can you do about it? If you suspect you are not being paid equally, Sam Smethers offers her first-step advice

1. Contact Fawcett’s Equal Pay advice service

If you are earning £30,000 or less. There is a free source of legal advice available. It also gives pointers on how to have that difficult first conversation with an employer.

2. Check with your colleagues

Share information amongst yourselves, because talking amongst pay is the first step to getting equal. If you don’t have that that pay information, you can’t take it further anyway. Find out if your male colleagues will help you: will they tell you what they are earning?

3. Pursue it with your line manager or someone in the organisation

Sometimes it hasn’t been delibate. It’s accidentally crept in over time and someone will then remedy it, some will settle it with the employee, and she’ll get a pay rise and some backdated pay that she is owed.

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This is what London pollution is doing to your child's health

This is what London pollution is doing to your child's health


Here is why you need to pay attention to the ADDRESSPOLLUTION campaign.

As MC’s Beauty & Style Director I’ve loved living and working in central London for 20 years but with toxic air pollution levels rising and potentially harming my three-year-old daughter, Eliza, I now regularly find myself wondering if I should move to the countryside.

Living in London has given me so much: friends, a career, a home and the best time ever but what I don’t want it to give me is a sick daughter. The latest studies are spooking me so much with findings revealing that every time my daughter goes out to play or walks to her play group she’s breathing in toxins that may eventually damage her long-term health. In fact, London’s air has reached such high levels of toxicity the London Mayor’s office classified it as ‘illegal’ in data published by the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory.

ADDRESSPOLLUTION

Photography by Andrew Leo www.leoweddings.com

So why am I still here? Because I truly believe London is the best place for me and Eliza. I took my maternity leave where I grew up in Gloucestershire and loved being in the countryside, but I desperately missed London’s buzz and my career in the thriving beauty and fashion industry. I had a community in London, a place I belonged. And the city kept my mind and body busy, while although I love the therapeutic health benefits of the countryside I conversely found my experience isolating. I didn’t want Eliza to grow up seeing a mum who was lonely and who had quit a job that she loved. I want her to learn to chase contentment and to find a life that makes her thrive, and think the best way to teach her that is to show it to her, daily.

But the question of air quality is undeniably hard to ignore. Before falling pregnant, I lived in Notting Hill and, as a cyclist, had clearly been breathing in plenty of fumes – but it was only when I moved back to town after time in the countryside that the stark difference in the quality of air struck me.

‘Exposure to high levels of air pollution can lead to life-long impacts for children’s respiratory systems, neurodevelopment, and health more broadly,’ says Beatriz Cardenas, Air Quality Manager at the World Resources Institute. ‘Some of these impacts are set even without long-term exposure – brief, high levels of pollution can affect lung development and resilience for the child’s lifetime.’
Yes, the nightmare is real and as Unicef has acknowledged, we are in the middle for a public health emergency. UNICEF’s Pauline Castres, Policy and Advocacy Advisor says: ‘No parent should have to make the decision to move out [of a city] to protect their children’s health, and every child deserves the right to breathe clean air wherever he or she lives. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution as their growing heart, brain, lungs and immunity system are still developing, and research is also beginning to point towards effects on growth and intelligence.’
ADDRESSPOLLUTION

ADDRESSPOLLUTION

A new citizen-funded initiative, addresspollution.org, by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) is giving Londoners the tools to act and demand change. At addresspollution.org you enter your postcode and get a free report on the annual average levels of pollution there. It makes it clear if your London home area exceeds the World Health Organization’s annual legal limit for clean air. The data, from King’s College London gives every address in London an accurate, annualised reading of nitrogen dioxide and then details the specific health and financial costs for living there.

It’s also easy to lobby your council with localised solutions and to demand action by signing a petition through your MP. Humphrey Milles, founder of the COPI says: ‘Air pollution is killing people across the country, and London is one of the worst hit – but people won’t believe it until it affects them or their children. Find out your rating and then lobby your government for the sake of your kids.’ COPI plans to extend addresspollution.org to other UK cities by February 2020.

The question of whether to stay a Londoner or move back to my home town of Stroud, Gloucestershire, remains unanswered. But for now, I’m joining COPI and putting their advice on measures parents can take to protect their children into action.

1. Switch driving a car to walking, cycling or using public transport

Walk, cycle, bus or train it. Drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So as well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’re reducing your exposure and getting some exercise too.

2. Take the side streets

Using quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot can lower your kids exposure to air pollution by 20%.

3. Avoid exercise when pollution is high

There are about 10 to 20 high pollution days a year when it’s better to avoid intense activity, particularly if your children have a heart or lung condition.

4. Choose Click & Collect

Many city workplaces report that half of all deliveries are personal parcels for staff. That’s a whole lot of extra vans clogging up the city. Instead, choose a Click & Collect location near home.

5. Switch off engine when stationary

By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

6. Keep your car tyres inflated 

Inflating your tyres properly means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. And remember to give your car a regular service to ensureit runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

7. Invest in an electric car 

If you have to drive, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are better than their petrol and diesel counterparts – and their costs over a lifetime are cheaper than you might think. So when you upgrade your car, consider buying an electric vehicle.

8. Inspire others

Encourage others to take the actions above to improve the air we breathe.

The post This is what London pollution is doing to your child’s health appeared first on Marie Claire.

Should I move out of London for the sake of my toddler’s health?

Should I move out of London for the sake of my toddler’s health?


As MC’s Beauty & Style Director I’ve loved living and working in central London for 20 years but with toxic air pollution levels rising and potentially harming my three-year-old daughter, Eliza, I now regularly find myself wondering if I should move to the countryside.

Living in London has given me so much: friends, a career, a home and the best time ever but what I don’t want it to give me is a sick daughter. The latest studies are spooking me so much with findings revealing that every time my daughter goes out to play or walks to her play group she’s breathing in toxins that may eventually damage her long-term health. In fact, London’s air has reached such high levels of toxicity the London Mayor’s office classified it as ‘illegal’ in data published by the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory.

Photography by Andrew Leo www.leoweddings.com

So why am I still here? Because I truly believe London is the best place for me and Eliza. I took my maternity leave where I grew up in Gloucestershire and loved being in the countryside, but I desperately missed London’s buzz and my career in the thriving beauty and fashion industry. I had a community in London, a place I belonged. And the city kept my mind and body busy, while although I love the therapeutic health benefits of the countryside I conversely found my experience isolating. I didn’t want Eliza to grow up seeing a mum who was lonely and who had quit a job that she loved. I want her to learn to chase contentment and to find a life that makes her thrive, and think the best way to teach her that is to show it to her, daily.

But the question of air quality is undeniably hard to ignore. Before falling pregnant, I lived in Notting Hill and, as a cyclist, had clearly been breathing in plenty of fumes – but it was only when I moved back to town after time in the countryside that the stark difference in the quality of air struck me.

‘Exposure to high levels of air pollution can lead to life-long impacts for children’s respiratory systems, neurodevelopment, and health more broadly,’ says Beatriz Cardenas, Air Quality Manager at the World Resources Institute. ‘Some of these impacts are set even without long-term exposure – brief, high levels of pollution can affect lung development and resilience for the child’s lifetime.’
Yes, the nightmare is real and as Unicef has acknowledged, we are in the middle for a public health emergency. UNICEF’s Pauline Castres, Policy and Advocacy Advisor says: ‘No parent should have to make the decision to move out [of a city] to protect their children’s health, and every child deserves the right to breathe clean air wherever he or she lives. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution as their growing heart, brain, lungs and immunity system are still developing, and research is also beginning to point towards effects on growth and intelligence.’

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

A new citizen-funded initiative, addresspollution.org, by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) is giving Londoners the tools to act and demand change. At addresspollution.org you enter your postcode and get a free report on the annual average levels of pollution there. It makes it clear if your London home area exceeds the World Health Organization’s annual legal limit for clean air. The data, from King’s College London gives every address in London an accurate, annualised reading of nitrogen dioxide and then details the specific health and financial costs for living there.

It’s also easy to lobby your council with localised solutions and to demand action by signing a petition through your MP. Humphrey Milles, founder of the COPI says: ‘Air pollution is killing people across the country, and London is one of the worst hit – but people won’t believe it until it affects them or their children. Find out your rating and then lobby your government for the sake of your kids.’ COPI plans to extend addresspollution.org to other UK cities by February 2020.

The question of whether to stay a Londoner or move back to my home town of Stroud, Gloucestershire, remains unanswered. But for now, I’m joining COPI and putting their advice on measures parents can take to protect their children into action.

1. Switch driving a car to walking, cycling or using public transport

Walk, cycle, bus or train it. Drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So as well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’re reducing your exposure and getting some exercise too.

2. Take the side streets

Using quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot can lower your kids exposure to air pollution by 20%.

3. Avoid exercise when pollution is high

There are about 10 to 20 high pollution days a year when it’s better to avoid intense activity, particularly if your children have a heart or lung condition.

4. Choose Click & Collect

Many city workplaces report that half of all deliveries are personal parcels for staff. That’s a whole lot of extra vans clogging up the city. Instead, choose a Click & Collect location near home.

5. Switch off engine when stationary

By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

6. Keep your car tyres inflated 

Inflating your tyres properly means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. And remember to give your car a regular service to ensureit runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

7. Invest in an electric car 

If you have to drive, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are better than their petrol and diesel counterparts – and their costs over a lifetime are cheaper than you might think. So when you upgrade your car, consider buying an electric vehicle.

8. Inspire others

Encourage others to take the actions above to improve the air we breathe.

The post Should I move out of London for the sake of my toddler’s health? appeared first on Marie Claire.

Three simple work hacks to ease anxiety

Three simple work hacks to ease anxiety


Our mental health is closely linked to our careers, so Marisa Bate (freelance writer = stress-inducing work situations) is perfectly placed to try these life-changing tips from a career coach

ease anxiety
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A recent study has revealed just how closely our mental health is linked to our careers. According to the survey by Mind Share, ‘half of millennials (defined in this survey as 23-38 years old) and 75% of Gen-Zer (18-22 years old) respondents have quit a job partially due to mental health reasons’. As this generation comes to grips with an increasing awareness of mental health issues, as well as the stresses and strains caused by living in the digital era, workplace anxiety is proving to be a real problem.

Since becoming a freelancer, like many others are increasingly choosing to do in the UK, I’ve ran into my fair share of anxiety-inducing situations; panics over where the next job is coming from, how to manage money, and the steady series of rejection that comes with pitching yourself. And sometimes, it can feel overwhelming.

Yet recently I had a 90-minute conversation with career coach, Sarah David, who runs Thrive, a company that works with people and businesses to make them work more efficiently and to create positive change. But how much change can someone really create in 90 minutes, I thought to myself before we spoke. Yet, by the time I’d put the phone down, I had a notebook full of scribbles and a brand new perspective. Instead of anxious, I felt geared-up and ready to go. Instead of overwhelmed, a feeling that often leaves me paralysed and unproductive, I felt focused, with a new sense of organisation. How? Here’s some of Sarah’s secrets:

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a list

Yes, this sounds obvious, but if you’re bad at keeping lists like I am, it is a revelation. Maybe on a really busy day I might note down a few key things, but more often than not, I’m fire-fighting through emails and deadlines, and, without a list, both tasks and ideas slip through the net, disappearing off my radar either permanently or until someone awkwardly reminds me I should have delivered something. Sarah insists I keep a list for everything because just the process of writing something down has been proven to lodge things in our brains.

Sarah also made clear that lists are useful for the bigger picture plans, not just the nitty-gritty of the everyday. I mentioned I wanted to be braver in life and work, so she encouraged me to start a bravery list. Just by writing the ideas down, they seemed a bit more plausible. And there’s something secretly thrilling about carrying around your wildest schemes and dreams in the back of your notebook.

ease anxiety

Getty Images

  1. Set yourself targets

Sometimes, it can feel enough of an achievement just to make it to Friday but Sarah recommends finding the time to set targets. These could be financial ones for the year ahead or they could also be career oriented ones. Often I feel I’m jumping from one project to the next, never quite sure of my trajectory or how well I’m doing, just muddling along knowing a few basics such as if I’d paid my rent/missed a deadline/not pissed off all my clients. And whilst targets might sound intimidating and stressful – another source of anxiety, potentially – Sarah helped me see they actually alleviate the stress. Because setting targets forces you to really understand where you are right now, in your career, and ask useful questions. What is realistic? What do you want? What are your goals and ambitions? What would make your life better?

And it doesn’t all have to be direct work targets, either. It can be things on the periphery that make work better and easier, like a target to schedule more downtime or to spend more time in nature. It almost instantly gave me a sense of focus and purpose. And be kind to yourself, Sarah told me. Don’t set yourself up to fail, but set your sights on something.

  1. Know your values.

I come from the strict school of Head Down and Get On With It. This was what my mum taught me from the get-go and it’s stuck. But sometimes you have to drill a bit deeper and ask ‘why?’ Knowing why you do something, or don’t, as the case may be, can be a very grounding feeling, sucking out the anxiety that lingers at surface level, giving you a stronger sense of purpose and direction.

Sarah and I spoke about what’s important to me when it comes to my career – both in the kind of work I do, and the way I go about it. Reminding yourself of the why; why some work feels more important than others, why you believe in commitment or collaboration or innovation or entrepreneurship or whatever it may be, is a very fruitful exercise. Knowing the why will help you remember why you’re on the path you are on. And when you start to see the woods through the trees a bit more clearly, hopefully some of that stress will start to lift.

The post Three simple work hacks to ease anxiety appeared first on Marie Claire.

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION Is living in a city costing you your health?

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION Is living in a city costing you your health?


#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

As MC’s Beauty & Style Director I’ve loved living and working in central London for 20 years but with toxic air pollution levels rising and potentially harming my three-year-old daughter, Eliza, I now regularly find myself wondering if I should move to the countryside.

Living in London has given me so much: friends, a career, a home and the best time ever but what I don’t want it to give me is a sick daughter. The latest studies are spooking me so much with findings revealing that every time my daughter goes out to play or walks to her play group she’s breathing in toxins that may eventually damage her long-term health. In fact, London’s air has reached such high levels of toxicity the London Mayor’s office classified it as ‘illegal’ in data published by the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory.

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

So why am I still here? Because I truly believe London is the best place for me and Eliza. I took my maternity leave where I grew up in Gloucestershire and loved being in the countryside, but I desperately missed London’s buzz and my career in the thriving beauty and fashion industry. I had a community in London, a place I belonged. And the city kept my mind and body busy, while although I love the therapeutic health benefits of the countryside I conversely found my experience isolating. I didn’t want Eliza to grow up seeing a mum who was lonely and who had quit a job that she loved. I want her to learn to chase contentment and to find a life that makes her thrive, and think the best way to teach her that is to show it to her, daily.

But the question of air quality is undeniably hard to ignore. Before falling pregnant, I lived in Notting Hill and, as a cyclist, had clearly been breathing in plenty of fumes – but it was only when I moved back to town after time in the countryside that the stark difference in the quality of air struck me.

‘Exposure to high levels of air pollution can lead to life-long impacts for children’s respiratory systems, neurodevelopment, and health more broadly,’ says Beatriz Cardenas, Air Quality Manager at the World Resources Institute. ‘Some of these impacts are set even without long-term exposure – brief, high levels of pollution can affect lung development and resilience for the child’s lifetime.’
Yes, the nightmare is real and as Unicef has acknowledged, we are in the middle for a public health emergency. UNICEF’s Pauline Castres, Policy and Advocacy Advisor says: ‘No parent should have to make the decision to move out [of a city] to protect their children’s health, and every child deserves the right to breathe clean air wherever he or she lives. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution as their growing heart, brain, lungs and immunity system are still developing, and research is also beginning to point towards effects on growth and intelligence.’

#ADDRESSPOLLUTION

A new citizen-funded initiative, addresspollution.org, by the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) is giving Londoners the tools to act and demand change. At addresspollution.org you enter your postcode and get a free report on the annual average levels of pollution there. It makes it clear if your London home area exceeds the World Health Organization’s annual legal limit for clean air. The data, from King’s College London gives every address in London an accurate, annualised reading of nitrogen dioxide and then details the specific health and financial costs for living there.

It’s also easy to lobby your council with localised solutions and to demand action by signing a petition through your MP. Humphrey Milles, founder of the COPI says: ‘Air pollution is killing people across the country, and London is one of the worst hit – but people won’t believe it until it affects them or their children. Find out your rating and then lobby your government for the sake of your kids.’ COPI plans to extend addresspollution.org to other UK cities by February 2020.

The question of whether to stay a Londoner or move back to my home town of Stroud, Gloucestershire, remains unanswered. But for now, I’m joining COPI and putting their advice on measures parents can take to protect their children into action.

1. Switch driving a car to walking, cycling or using public transport

Walk, cycle, bus or train it. Drivers can be exposed to twice as much air pollution as pedestrians and nine times more than a cyclist. So as well as cutting down the amount of pollution you make, you’re reducing your exposure and getting some exercise too.

2. Take the side streets

Using quieter streets when you’re on a bike or on foot can lower your kids exposure to air pollution by 20%.

3. Avoid exercise when pollution is high

There are about 10 to 20 high pollution days a year when it’s better to avoid intense activity, particularly if your children have a heart or lung condition.

4. Choose Click & Collect

Many city workplaces report that half of all deliveries are personal parcels for staff. That’s a whole lot of extra vans clogging up the city. Instead, choose a Click & Collect location near home.

5. Switch off engine when stationary

By turning off your car engine whenever you’re not moving – and it’s safe to do so – you’ll help to make the air cleaner for you, other drivers and pedestrians.

6. Keep your car tyres inflated 

Inflating your tyres properly means your car will be more efficient and use less fuel. And remember to give your car a regular service to ensureit runs as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

7. Invest in an electric car 

If you have to drive, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are better than their petrol and diesel counterparts – and their costs over a lifetime are cheaper than you might think. So when you upgrade your car, consider buying an electric vehicle.

8. Inspire others

Encourage others to take the actions above to improve the air we breathe.

The post #ADDRESSPOLLUTION Is living in a city costing you your health? appeared first on Marie Claire.

Why that really annoying work nemesis is actually very good for you

Why that really annoying work nemesis is actually very good for you


A healthy dose of office hatred will spur you on to greater things…

work nemesis
Getty Images

Words by Clare Thorp

As much as were all taught to play nicely and, particularly as women, to support each other wherever we can, even the most placid among us are unlikely to get through our working lives without at least a few people rubbing us up the wrong way.

In fact, research earlier this year by Total Jobs found that 62% of us have a work enemy with a nearly a fifth of us have called in sick to avoid them. But while horrible bosses and workplace bullies can have a damaging effect on our health and performance, there is one type of workplace adversary that can be beneficial to our careers. The nemesis. 

A nemesis is a rival, of sorts. Its that person who snags a job, project or promotion you think should have been yours, gets more recognition than you or just seems to be climbing that ladder a little faster. They might not always be doing better than you, but when they are, it really riles.

You dont hate them as such you might even kind of respect them. But their actions frequently bug you, and bring out the green-eyed monster within.

The writer Roxanne Gay has been tweeting about her (unnamed) nemeses for a few years now, just this summer saying: My nemesis got a job I was in the running for. I had paused plotting against her for the holiday. I wont let that happen again. There, in that last line of her tweet, is the power of a nemesis. It might sound a little ominous but what shes saying is that witnessing her nemesis’ success will spur her on to do better next time. Replying recently to one Twitter follower, Gay recently explained: You dont need to sabotage a nemesis. You want to defeat them through your excellence rather than their failings.

Theres science to back up how having a rival can help you thrive. A US study found that long-distance runners are faster when one of their rivals are in the race. There are also many examples of professional rivalry spurring people on to great things. Bill Gates has said of his well-documented rivalry with the late Steve Jobs that their competition was always a positive thing.Tennis players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have each pushed the other to further greatness.

work nemesis

Getty Images

Catherine Bunting, Director of HR company Hill & Jago, says finding a nemesis in every job shes had has motivated her throughout her career. I thrive on having a rival,she says. All through my life Ive identified the individuals who are brilliant at what they do and had a drive to do better. A competitor becomes a nemesis if theyre frequently beating me. I suppose its a system of gamification. I think the downside is there is rarely a feeling of contentment.

That having a nemesis can have both bad and good sides is something Aria Guzulaityte, co-founder of Braingic noticed a few years ago, working in a communications role and striving to do better than a colleague. We should have worked side by side but both of us became really competitive,she says. It pushed me to work harder, learn new skills and be more innovative. However, it didnt create a healthy working environment and both of us were really stressed. 

Keeping a healthy attitude towards a nemesis is important, says psychotherapist Claire Goodwin-Fee. Some people thrive when faced with a professional rival,she explains. But its important that we keep sight of our own goals, and dont focus on outdoing someone else just for the sake of it. If we are coming from a place of passion, where we believe in what we are doing, a competitor or rival can push us forward to do more good. But over focusing on a rival professionally can lead to missing other opportunities and creation of an unhealthy imbalance in your working life.

Feeling that twinge of frustration or annoyance at someone elses success can be a helpful indicator of what you really want, she explains. After all, were rarely jealous over things we dont care about.

Jealousy is a fairly negative state of being, psychologically speaking, and that is telling us something on its own,says Goodwin-Fee. Its about a lack of something within us.She recommends journalling as a way of figuring out why someone rattles us and how we can turn that feeling into something positive. Physically writing down how you feel helps us have clarity about why we may feel this way. Brain dump without censor – I really hate Jackie because she is always successful and I am so fed up with feeling this way. You will learn a huge amount about why you feel this way and can use this to inform your next steps.

Frustrated that they get more recognition than you? Work on networking and building your profile. Bummed at everyone congratulating them on a fancy new job title? Set out a plan for getting a promotion or apply for a new role. And when you get it? You never know, they might be secretly seething, too.

The post Why that really annoying work nemesis is actually very good for you appeared first on Marie Claire.