Last week I had the privilege of visiting London for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office locally-engaged Staff Familiarisation Tour.  It was my first ever trip to London – the heart of the UK government.  I  couldn’t have imagined how  amazing and productive those two days in London would be.

The visit was a great opportunity to get acquainted with FCO work, structure, policies and strategies from inside and to meet my colleagues from other posts.  There were 18 locally engaged staff from all over Europe. Some were newcomers, others had worked for the FCO for more than 10 years.  We were a great mix of people and it was invaluable to meet, establish contacts, network, discuss how things work at various embassies in Europe and what our roles were.

Another essential part of the visit was meeting my FCO and Cabinet Office counterparts in London, people with whom, as a Political Assistant in the Kyiv embassy, I work on a day-to-day basis but have never had a chance to meet in person.  Course participants also had a chance to  listen to and communicate with senior guest speakers from the Europe Directorate of the FCO and from other government departments.  This made me feel part of one big team working for the same goal and objectives.  I understood that my work was not only important at post in Kyiv, but that the wider FCO was interested in my development, so that with new skills and experience I could become more and more efficient at my job.

And of course London - its neat streets, historical sights, the great red double-deckers and  black cabs, cordial people, tour of the FCO main building and the Houses of Parliament – it all made me feel much closer to British people, culture and traditions and better understand the UK government system.

Such familiarisation tours are truly beneficial for local staff and are a great investment in people.  I personally feel highly motivated and inspired to work, learn, develop and deliver better results as well as network with both locally engaged staff and UK based staff from other posts.

Katya Bykova

Ukrayinska Dumka


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