Frankco Harris: London Office Internship 2023
I have had the pleasure of working as an Intern and Research and Consular Assistant at the Government of Bermuda London Office under the direction of the UK Representative, Ms Kimberley Durrant. The role has been an enriching experience that has provided me with invaluable practical skills and underscored the vital work that Public Servants do for Bermuda internationally. It has been fascinating to learn about the value of diplomacy and how this relates to Bermuda’s global reputation and agenda.
The Government of Bermuda London Office plays a crucial role in promoting Bermuda’s interests by working closely with the UK Government, the EU, international stakeholders, and other British Overseas Territories (OTs) governments. My role involved fostering and sustaining a strong relationship between Bermuda and these entities, including attending a Sherpa meeting at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and collaborating with the UK Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA). I contributed insights from my social policy work during the Sherpa meeting, which subsequently influenced the discussions held in the Joint Ministerial Council. These meetings also provided valuable networking opportunities with UK officials and other OTs representatives.
Mental Health is an issue that I am passionate about, particularly relating to Bermudians. I was pleased to facilitate the presence of Bermuda in the UKOTA Mental Health Working Group. This working group promotes mental health awareness and well-being in the OTs.
I was entrusted with the responsibility of spearheading Bermuda’s representation in the UKOTA webinars, which involved securing the participation of Ms Tori Burgess from the Bermuda Employee Assistance Program, and from the Bermuda Hospitals Board, Dr Anna Neilson- Williams, Chief of Psychiatry and Ms Grant- Simmons, Clinical Director for Mental Health as speakers.
Providing consular assistance to Bermudians studying and living in the UK is another vital role of the London Office and formed part of my role. Under the guidance of the Consular Officer, Mr Brandon Sousa, I assisted Bermudians with enquiries related to passport applications and renewals, emergency travel assistance, legal matters, and student issues. I also helped to organise logistics and prepare briefs for dignitaries on official visits from Bermuda. I supported the London Office with events like the Platinum Jubilee, the unprecedented occasion of the State Funeral for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and The King’s Coronation. I was also honoured to attend the Joint Ministerial Council and enjoyed visiting the Government’s Brussels office to see Bermuda’s work in the EU.
Over the past years, various challenges, such as the ongoing effects of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, and the cost-of-living crisis in the UK and Bermuda, have made life difficult. Amidst these difficulties, with an increasing number of Bermudians living in the UK, the work at the London Office has played a crucial role. It has provided me with a meaningful and fulfilling experience.
Having spent an extended period in the UK, working at the London Office has allowed me to actively engage in work related to Bermuda, which has prepared me for my eventual return home following my PhD. I am particularly grateful for this opportunity as an older student, as internships geared toward mature students are often limited. The support I received from the Government in pursuing my goals has been invaluable. It has been a privilege and pleasure to serve my country in this capacity.