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  YOUR GUIDE TO THE UNITED KINGDOM

 

(1) ARRIVING & DEPARTING - NON UK RESIDENCE GUIDE    back to top

Your UK entry point is most likely to be London . Before you touch down in the capital, ask your travel agent or check on your ticket which airport you will arrive at. London has five airports - so in terms of working out how to get to where you want to go, or if you're getting friends, family or a consultant from Caterer Recruitment to meet you, this can be useful information to know. Please note that the following information is subject to change.
AIRPORTS
Heathrow Airport
www.heathrow.co.uk 
There are four terminals. Where you land or depart from depends on the airline and the destination. On the Underground train system (tube), Heathrow is located in zone six and is on the Piccadilly line. The Heathrow Express train ( www.heathrowexpress.co.uk ; 0845-600 1515) travels to and from Paddington station every 15 minutes. National Express coaches (www.nationalexpress.com ; 0870-5747 777) run a direct service to and from London 's Victoria station but can be expensive. If you want to get to or from there cheaply but not necessarily quickly, get an Oyster Card and put a few extra pounds on there as pay as you go and hey presto, you are done. 

Gatwick Airport
www.gatwickairport.co.uk 
Gatwick Express ( www.gatwickexpress.co.uk ; 0845-600 1515) trains run every 15 minutes and take about 30 minutes to reach London 's Victoria station. A cheaper option is Southern trains (www.southernrailway.com ). The Thameslink service ( www.thameslink.co.uk ) runs to King's Cross, Farringdon, City, Blackfriars and London Bridge stations.

Stansted Airport
www.baa.co.uk  www.baa.co.uk 
Situated 56km from central London , you can reach Stansted via a 45-minute train ride from Liverpool Street station on the Stansted Express ( www.stansteadexpress.co.uk ; 0845-600 1515). Trains depart every 15-30 minutes. National Express (www.nationalexpress.com ; 0870-574 7777) runs coach services to and from Victoria coach station every 15-30 minutes. Easybus also run services to and from Stanstead (www.easybus.com ) and usually take just over an hour and offer cheap tickets.
Luton Airport
www.london-luton.com 
Thameslink trains ( www.thameslink.co.uk ) cover the 51km trip from central London in about 35 minutes, departing from King's Cross station. Otherwise, board a Greenline coach ( www.greenline.co.uk ; 0870-608 7261). In London , they stop at Brent Cross, Finchley Road Station, Baker Street , Marble Arch and Victoria.
London City Airport
www.londoncityairport.com 
From Canning Town , Canary Wharf (on both the Underground Jubilee Line and the Docklands Light Rail system) and Liverpool Street tube stations, you can get a shuttlebus. The journey takes 10-30 minutes.

Other major airports:

Birmingham International Airport www.bhx.com 

Manchester International Airport   www.manchesterairport.co.uk 

Check out The Complete UK and Ireland Airport Guide at www.a2bairports.com 

Negotiating customs

While we'd all love to be welcomed into Britain with a cup of tea and a slice of cake, your first experience of the UK is more likely to be a stony-faced customs officer asking you lots of questions. But don't worry, if your visa is in check, you have savings, an idea of what you'll do as a job and somewhere to stay, they should stamp your passport to validate your visa and let you go merrily on your way.

  (2) GETTING AROUND - NON UK RESIDENCE GUIDE    back to top

Get a London A-Z street directory (available at all good newsagents); most Londoners have one, so you won't look like a tourist.

Invest in a good pair of walking shoes as you're going to be legging it about London . In between your urban treks, though, you've got a few options for getting to where you want to be.

  

The tube
Spanning 12 miles and made up of 12 colour-coded lines, the London Underground (aka the tube) is the world's oldest (1863) subterranean transport system. It will seem every bit its age, too, when your train stops mid-journey or you're left waiting on a platform (on average, there are four breakdowns an hour). Having said that, when it's running smoothly, the tube is usually the quickest and easiest way to get from A to B in London .

  

The cost of your ticket depends on the number of travel zones (there are six) you're going to cross. A Travelcard allows you to travel on all modes of transport ó tube, bus, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and overland trains ó within the zones selected. Daily, weekly, monthly or annual Travelcards are available. If you're staying long-term, you may want to get an Oyster Card, a pre-pay system which saves you having to buy Travelcards. For more information and fares, see the Transport for London website.

  

Buses
The red bus network is cheaper, but often slower, than the tube or train. Routes reach every corner of the capital. Night buses ó with the letter ĎN' before the route number ó run all night. See the Transport for London website.

  

Taxis
Black cabs: They're as famous as London's red buses, but these days they don't only come in the black variety. You can hail them on the street ó if the light is on, they're available. They're pricey, but can seat up to five people. To book, call 020-7286 0286 or see www.londonblackcabs.co.uk . Call the Public Carriage Office on 0845-602 7000 for queries.

   

Minicabs: These are ordinary, unmetered cars which operate as taxis. London Transport has numbers for licensed minicab firms. Book by phone or in person from the company's offices which are located all over the city. It's illegal for minicab drivers to pick up passengers on the street. Fares should be agreed in advance and are usually cheaper than black cabs. There are many unlicensed ó and illegal ó taxis operating in London. Use them at your own risk. Last year, 140 women were sexually assaulted by illegal minicab drivers.

  

Boats
Take to the water for a different view of the city. There are several boat services running regularly up and down the length of the Thames in London. See www.londontransport.co.uk/river 
   
For an informative guide to all modes of transport in the capital, contact Transport for London (www.tfl.gov.uk; 020-7222 1234)

3) ACCOMMODATION - NON UK RESIDENCE GUIDE   back to top

When it comes to accommodation in London, Antipodeans and South Africans tend to head west (Hammersmith, Fulham, Shepherdís Bush, Acton), north (Kilburn, Willesden, Dollis Hill) or south (Clapham, Fulham, Southfields).

The further out you live, the cheaper it is, but it costs more to commute.

 

Dossing: A popular choice with new arrivals is Ďdossingí. This involves sleeping on a friendís couch or floor for a minimal fee until you find a job and get on your feet ó or outstay your welcome. The dossing fee generally goes towards household bills.

 

Hostels: Many welcome long-term guests and some include breakfast. Weekly rates range from £70 to £200. Hostel tenants can often pick up work in the hostel, which typically comes with cheaper rent. Just ask at reception.

Room share: If you donít mind sharing a room in a house with anything between six and 20 people, you can get by on as little as £40-£60 a week for rent.

 

House/flat share: For your own room in a small household, budget for upwards of £120 per week. In general, though, youíre probably looking at around £80-£100 per week for rent. When you move in, youíll usually be expected to pay at least one monthís rent as a security deposit and your first monthís rent upfront. Itís illegal for a landlord to charge more than two monthsí rent for a deposit.

 

Going solo: You can get a bed-sit (a self-contained room with a small kitchenette in a house with a shared bathroom) from about £80 a week. Hot water and gas will usually be included in the rent, while electricity is often paid through a coin meter. For £100 upwards, you can get a studio, which includes a kitchenette and your own bathroom.

Pubs: Ask at pubs to see if they have any rooms. Sometimes you can get a job and a home in one, and the deal may also include meals and beer.

 

Squatting: Itís not illegal, but breaking and entering is. Contact the Advisory Service for Squatters www.squat.freeserve.co.uk ; 0845-644 5814) and request their handbook.

 

Bills
Check whether the quoted price of rent includes bills. If not, youíre up for another £20-£30 per month for gas and electricity (depending on how many people youíre sharing with). Gas, in particular, can be expensive, especially in winter, as most internal heating runs on gas. Then thereís council tax. The amount you pay is determined by the area in which youíre living (some councils charge more than others); and the value of the property. The average cost is around £30 per month, but it could be anything from £17-£65 a month. Council tax is higher in the larger cities.

 

Leases
Leases typically run for six or 12 months. Read the small print to be sure of what you are and arenít responsible for. Whoever signs the lease is responsible for the rent and leases can be difficult to get out of early. If youíre leaving, itís best to find a new flat mate to take your place on the lease.

Rental flats and houses generally come with basic furniture and you should be asked to sign an inventory list which details the complete household contents and any existing marks and defects (if not, create one yourself and post a copy to your landlord/ agent). Complete this thoroughly to avoid being charged for pre-existing damage when you leave. Most landlords will require proof of your employment; some will ask for bank references and letters from previous landlords are helpful.

 

Where to look
Hostels: There are six YHA hostels in London ó Earlís Court, St Pancras International, Oxford Street, Holland House, St Pauls and Thames side. Prices start at £25 a night. Call 0870-770 6113 or see www.yha.org.uk. Also try Piccadilly Backpackers www.piccadillyhotel.net ; 020-7434 9009) and The Generator (www.generatorhostels.com; 020-7388 7666).
Renting: You can also check out the Loot newspaper ( www.loot.com ) for shared houses, flats and houses.

 

Know your rights
Housing law in Britain is complicated, but you can get free legal advice from a Citizenís Advice Bureau (www.nacab.org.uk ). If you choose to use a letting agency, beware of unscrupulous agents and exorbitant fees. Wherever possible, use an agency that has signed up with the National Approved Letting Scheme www.nalscheme.co.uk ; 01242-581 712). Agents belonging to this scheme have agreed to follow set industry standards. The laws are complex, but as a rule itís illegal for an agency to request payment for:
- Putting your name on their list or taking your details;
- Providing a list of rental properties.
For more information, see www.adviceguide.org.uk 

(4) BANK ACCOUNTS - NON UK RESIDENCE GUIDE   back to top

Itís notoriously difficult to open an account in the UK. To save yourself some headaches, try to organise an account before you leave home. Itís worth checking whether your home bank has an affiliation with a UK bank as this can speed up the process once you get to the UK. If youíre going to be working for an agency, they can often help you open an account.

   

If you do put off this task until you arrive in London, good luck ó one bank branch may issue you an account on the spot, while another will mess you around. Get together as much documentation as possible, including proof of ID (passport, driverís license and/or birth certificate) and evidence of your UK address (a utility bill or lease with your name on it should suffice, but not always). Itís also worth bringing a letter from your bank at home as record of your credit history, and a letter from your agency or employer in the UK. The more documentation you have, the easier your application should be.

   

Some companies like 1st Contact ( www.1stcontact.com ) will help you get the show on the road for a small fee. This is a great way of doing it because they already have established ties with several major banks and can cut through all the rubbish.

    

Services between banks vary, so shop around. You should, however, be able to open an account within a week. There are several types of accounts, rates and charges. Switch or Solo are similar to Ethos. You may also be offered a Cirrus/Maestro ATM card that can be used internationally.

    

Most banks wonít issue credit cards unless you have a long and reliable credit or savings record in the country. If you need a credit card to survive, itís best to bring a MasterCard or Visa card from home. If things get really tight, you should be able to get an overdraft, although the interest rates can be high ó so beware of going too far into debt.

    

The major UK banks are Lloyds TSB (www.lloydsstb.com  ), Barclays ( www.barclays.co.uk ), NatWest (www.natwest.co.uk ), Royal Bank of Scotland (www.rbs.co.uk ) and HSBC (www.hsbc.co.uk ). Also try building societies, as they may have better rates. Visit www.switchwithwhich.co.uk  for a useful guide to all the bank and building society accounts on the market. Opening hours for UK banks are typically 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Some open on Saturday mornings.

(5) VISAS - NON UK RESIDENCE GUIDE   back to top
Immigration and visas

In line with the requirements of the United Kingdom Asylum & Immigration Act 1996, all applicants must be eligible to live and work in the UK. For more information see  www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk
Documented evidence of the eligibility will be required from candidates as part of the recruitment process.

The Australian Department of Immigration handles visas and immigration - the website is a great resource and easy to use.

The Department of Employment manages the recognition of your qualifications - 'Head Chef' is on their list of skills required and the website has plenty of information about how they assess skills.

 

 

 

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'Caterer & Hotelkeeper Limited'. United Kingdom.
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