Top ten tips re females travelling on their own

Georgian-Court-HotelI spend a lot of time out and about in my car. I often use the Laterooms service to get a good hotel deal and this has taken me to all sorts of off the beaten track hotels, some I’ve liked more than others.

But travelling alone as a female comes with certain risks and there are some precautions you can take to reduce these.

Most of these are fairly self evident things like ‘don’t run out of petrol at nights’, ‘always have your emergency breakdown contact details handy’, ‘keep a personal attack alarm handy’, ‘choose where to park your car wisely’, ‘don’t overdo the girly accessories onboard’ and always keep your mobile phone topped up of course.

But when it comes to staying at hotels on your own are there things you could do, to be safer and enjoy a more female friendly stay? Here are a few tips I’ve picked up based on experience…

1. If you can arrive at your destination during daylight hours it’s less intimidating.

2. If you plan to arrive late at night, ask in advance if you can park close to the reception area, rather than in a dark corner of a distant car park.

3. Choose your room wisely – if it’s a big hotel on many floors, ask for a room near the lift. Or an escort of course.

4. A breakfast menu for one hanging on your door is an instant sign that you’re on your own.

From a hotel point of view I’m always surprised that so few emphasise their safety features such as double locking doors (with an inside chain or similar) and a viewing eyeglass to see who’s there before opening up… And too many reception staff still proudly announce your room number at a busy reception desk when there’s really no need to.

The hotel services I consider to be female friendly, however, include:

5. Genuinely free wi-fi – not the ones that give you 30 mins free then expect you to pay for more…

6. A guaranteed range of quality toiletries (so I don’t have to bring all mine from home).

7. An evening menu/room service that includes healthy options eg fresh salads.

8. The choice of a wall-side restaurant table/seat where I can either look into the room or read without feeling watched…

9. Complimentary drinking water (in case I’ve run out).

10. A full length mirror.

I don’t normally stay in 5 star hotels on business (because I’m paying) but these are all fairly straight-forward and affordable areas that result in my future loyalty, positive feedback and word of mouth marketing.

And the safety matters should surely be minimum standards in any hotel that claims to welcome women who travel on their own.

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Training tomorrow’s generation of accident repairers

JCC_apprenticesNorth Lindsey College and Just Car Clinics have joined forces to raise the talent levels of young technicians repairing cars in future; hopefully reaching young females as well as male recruits.

Just Car Clinics is the first Accident Repair Group to join the FOXY Lady Approved repairer network so we’re not at all surprised to see that they are the first to develop a pipeline of talent for their industry via their own Academy for future apprentices, from September 2014.

The Just Car Clinic Academy will be delivering an intensive two stage programme including a residential eight week course at North Lindsey College, followed by four weeks work experience at a local Just Car Clinic site. There’ll be c12 student placements, recruited across northern areas where a Just Car Clinic site is located. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an assessment day in August at North Lindsey College where they will be put through a number of aptitude, skill and knowledge based tests to win a place on the programme.

We hope female students will apply as these are jobs that can be done just as well by women as men.

Students will achieve a Level One qualification at the end of the 12 week programme before entering the work experience stage of the programme where they’ll start to contribute to the business.

During the initial 12 week programme successful candidates will be full-time students with training provided thanks to a combination of government funding and North Lindsey College. All travel, any accommodation and related living costs during the residential period are paid for by Just Car Clinics.

At the end of the 12 weeks there will be a number of apprenticeships made available at Just Car Clinics so students can learn whilst they earn. Mentors will work with the students, in the business, and receive specialist training from North Lindsey College to support the students.

Just Car Clinics is a founding member of the National Accident Repair Group (NARG) and the plan is to open up this academy to benefit NARG members.

We asked Dawn Swales, HR & training manager for Just Car Clinics to tell us more.

‘The creation of the Just Car Clinic Academy is really exciting. We’re passionate about investing in our future generation and working with North Lindsey College provides us with an amazing opportunity to do this. The programme offered by the Academy is like nothing else out there. Our students will leave the programme after as little as 12 weeks having the knowledge and skills to contribute in any bodyshop, and will be ready to commence their Level Two qualifications at that stage.’

We are encouraged by this development too and hope that anyone reading this blog will pass this on to a likely female near a northern Just Car Clinics branch who might harbour ideas of a creative career in the motor industry but not be sure how to take this further. Here is her chance…

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The Lady’s Guide to Taxi Etiquette

hen-partyWe’ve all been there. It’s 1.30 in the morning and you’re standing at the taxi rank waiting to get a taxi along with the rest of the late-night revellers.

Your vision’s a bit bleary, your judgement is ever-so-slightly off and your body is telling you it’s time to hit the sack . . . but hold it!

Now is the time you should really be at your most aware and responsible.

Forget whether you should have entertained the advances from that smooth gent in the last bar, your decision-making skills are never of greater importance than when it comes to your late-night travel arrangements home.

Here’s our brief guide to making the right decisions at cabbie o’clock:

Safety in numbers

The obvious point to make is that sharing a lift home with friends is always first choice. For one, it’s safer. And two, it’s just plain cheaper to share a taxi journey home.

If bundling in with some girlfriends isn’t an option, though, there are a few golden rules you should always follow:

+ Have friends present to see you off in the taxi: get them to pay attention to the taxi driver’s face or take a shot of the vehicle and credentials, particularly if you’re starting to feel the effects of that last cocktail.

+ Agree to call or text a friend once you’ve arrived safely at your destination.

+ Agree a fare for your destination where possible.

+ Strap in. Trusting a stranger’s driving skills is one thing; ignoring basic safety precautions is another. You don’t want to find yourself injured and involved in a taxi accident claim if you can help it.

No food smuggling

You’ve hailed down a taxi but still have half your late night supper left. Never try to smuggle food into a taxi where it can be spilled, though. Mess up the interior of your cabbie’s vehicle and you’ll find that the cost of this particular taxi accident creates a bigger hole in your purse than your bar bill.

Standard fines of £50 are charged by many taxi firms for the time and expense of cleaning down a vehicle.

Tipping and disembarking

Always a tricky one to gauge, why not use the general rule of thumb that an enjoyable journey is a tippable one?

Like your taxi journey to be a quiet moment of reflection on the night you’ve had? Then a taxi driver who kills your vibe by asking questions and telling you about his fourth cousin’s dog isn’t going to be the deserving recipient of your hard earned cash.

Want a bit of light conversation to pass the time? A good cabbie should always know how to hold a conversation, so reach into your purse for a chauffeur who can make you laugh and sees you safely to your door with a smile on your face.

How much to pay? Round up to the nearest sum for solo journeys. If you’re travelling in a group, whip round and make it up to a generous 10% tip.

Before you leave your chariot, always be sure to look back inside the cabin – and don’t be afraid to ask for the internal lights to be turned on so you can spy any spilled lip gloss, loose change or, worse, a forgotten mobile phone or purse.

Then all you need to do, is thank your driver for his sterling work and head for a very welcome bed.

What if the unthinkable accident happens?

The last thing on your mind after a night out is being involved in an accident, but unfortunately there are thousands of taxi accidents every year around the UK.

If you are involved in an accident that was caused by your taxi driver or another vehicle, would you know what to do?

Here’s your 5 step plan:

1. Report the incident to the police straight away
2. Collect registration and certification details from both your taxi driver and the other vehicle
3. Take photos of the accident
4. Collect witness statements from any passers-by where possible
5. Call Winn Solicitors

So, there you have it: follow these easy guidelines and stay cabbie cool.

guestblog This is a Guest blog written by Winn Solicitors, specialists in road accident claims. They can arrange for immediate medical assessment – which is crucial, even if you do not think you have been seriously injured.

Injuries such as whiplash can take days or even weeks to present themselves, but without appropriate treatment can mean pain or discomfort for months.

Winn can also handle any taxi compensation claim, should you require any further treatment or suffer any other loss or expense as a result of the accident.

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Trailblazing Toni encourages other women into motor industry

toni_stoneacreI’m delighted to see Toni Louisa Rivett of Stoneacre Motor Group become the first woman to gain Master Technician status at Volvo.

This is quite something bearing in mind that only 2.5% of apprentices embarking on a motor industry based course (IMI stats) are female.

Toni joined Volvo in 2005 when she was 17 as part of the Volvo Apprentice Programme when she was working at John Morris Motors.

She finished that course in 2008, moving up to take the Level 2 qualification in 2010. Level 3 followed in 2012 when Stoneacre took over the Grimsby and Lincoln operations.

She then took her Master Technician programme which she has just completed.

“Ive spoken to lots of women who wish they’d had the chance to do what I’ve done.’ Toni explained.’Perhaps my achieving Master Technician status will encourage more women to come into the industry.’

For either gender Master Technician status is a remarkable achievement as it reflects a genuinely superior knowledge and hands on ability of all matters mechanical in this area.

In Toni’s case this is more than just that – it isn’t easy being female in such a masculine motor industry. Girls are not expected to want to be a mechanic and those that do often experience discrimination even if this is just ‘soft’ or ‘unintentional’. Many females simply give up and choose another career/industry.

But the die is cast now – if Toni can do it so can others. Come on girls – those of you with a strong STEM inclination – pick up your spanners and let’s show the boys we can do it as well, if not better, than the men.

A great career awaits – well done Toni!

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Wise holiday advice to pack with your sunscreen

Enjoy Your Summer Break
You’ve booked and saved for the family holiday for ages now and it’s almost here… so it’s time to get excited about your destination and the likely lazy days away from work.

Most women I know prepare a holiday checklist to include essential travel documentation, passport, driving licence, holiday insurance and spending money.

After the tricky family packing most of us do comes the more enjoyable packing to include our own holiday wardrobe, the best sun screen, trendy sunglasses and (to be on the safe side) a mosquito repellent – check!

But who of us has considered protecting our identity this summer? Which is why Experian has some really useful tips that few of us are likely to have considered we imagine.

In the same way you would take sensible steps to protect yourself from the sun, the following easy-to-remember tips can help protect you and your family from identity theft, which could result in a nasty holiday hangover if your information gets into the wrong hands…

1. Pack light

Handbags and wallets often contain lots of items containing personally-identifiable information that you won’t need on holidays. These could prove to be a goldmine for fraudsters, so do a clear-out of your handbag and wallet, removing items such as bills, receipts, out-of-date driving licences and medical prescriptions.
 
2. Stay in the shade

Don’t expose your personal or credit card information unnecessarily. Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks and public computers if you are doing anything which requires you to share passwords or financial information. If you have no other option, remember to check these sites are encrypted (indicated by a padlock symbol and the letters “https:”). Always log out after use.
 
3. Apply sunscreen regularly

Regularly updating the antivirus and firewalls for your devices is the most simple form of protection here. However, as with sunscreen, many of us forget to effectively reapply. These types of software are updated regularly with patches for specific bugs, so by not updating your software, you run the risk of having gaps in your protection.
 
cjohnstonidentitytheftl

4. Don’t get burnt

Identity fraudsters operate to make money and so one of the first ways you can spot fraudulent activity is by  closely monitoring your credit report.

If you spot any unusual activity and suspect that it may be an indication of identity theft, you can contact the Experian Victims of Fraud team who will appoint a dedicated case-worker to investigate and, if necessary, resolve any fraudulent activity not only to protect your bank balance, but also your credit rating. 
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I for one wouldn’t have thought of all this and whilst it’s commonsense in most cases it’s good to have the heads up here.

FOXY Steph

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