Cayman Islands Government Office UK
Annual Report 2020
Left to right: Denison Miller, Charles Parchment, André Ebanks, Phillippa Knights, Rahat Siddiqi. (Not pictured: Melanie Ebanks)
Foreword by The CIGO-UK Team
The Cayman Islands Government Office in the UK (CIGO-UK) was off to a flying start in 2020 with a number of high level events and meetings in January and February including the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA), The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Cayman Islands (APPG), meeting the Speaker of the House, assistance to 100Women in Finance and GirlForce with a visit to London and a spectacular gala event with the Restaurant Association celebrating the Cayman Islands as a culinary capital of the world.
By mid February, following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Cayman and the outbreak of COVID spreading to Europe, it was evident that systems and operations would need to shift, and 2020 was soon to become the most challenging year globally. The office held a number of internal crisis meetings, and thanks to the crisis registrations on the CIGO-UK website (established in 2019) and the close partnership with Cayman’s diaspora network Cayman Connection who hold a database of Caymanians overseas, the team were able to instigate a crisis communications plan to update stakeholders and Caymanians overseas on the changing landscape, including regional COVID updates, and government regulations and recommendations in the UK and the Cayman Islands. The office was soon operating in full force assisting Caymanians who needed to get home as borders around the world were closing, students who were assessing if they should try to get home and parents in Cayman concerned for their children overseas.
As did most of the world, CIGO-UK adapted to a new way of working and set up remote working systems in early March with all staff members working from home and normal phone and email operations set up.
Close partnerships and working relationships in relation to the pandemic were soon established, with the Overseas Territories’ Representatives working closely together to share their respective situations and developments. The office worked closely with The Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) in the UK in conjunction with the Governor’s Office in the Cayman Islands to ensure a smooth channel of information and guidance wherever possible.
As Airbridges for repatriation flights were arranged and partnerships between British Airways and the Cayman Islands were established a smooth process was created within the office to ensure that those in the most need were able to get home. A rigorous process of needs assessment and support was developed by CIGO-UK to assist Caymanians overseas.
It was truly an honour for the team to continue serving our Caymanian people overseas and be a support to those seeking advice on their journey home, seeking consular assistance, or just needing a friendly ear to speak to while remaining in the UK.
As Caymanians and students decided to return to the UK after the summer during a brief period of eased lockdown, CIGO-UK partnered with Cayman Connection to produce a “Digital Welcome Pack” to assist those retiring to the UK with information and guidance about COVID life in the UK and regulations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
As remote working became the new norm, CIGO- UK continued to assist Caymanians overseas and represent the Cayman Islands on various online forums, including the Island Innovation Small Island Summit on the topic of the post-Brexit and post-COVID landscape, and the Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference (CTEC) discussing matters and initiatives for a sustainable future for the Cayman Islands.
Other global issues for the Cayman Islands outside of COVID in 2020 (financial services and environmental matters, including working towards a more sustainable future for the Cayman Islands) were still a priority for CIGO-UK who were instrumental in negotiations towards the removal of the jurisdiction from the EU blacklist. CIGO-UK worked closely with the Friends of Cayman group to establish an Environmental Working Group to assess and assist with the National Conservation Council (NCC)’s strategy following their report in June on “Seizing the Moment to Transition to a Greener Economy”, and preparing for the opportunity that the UK-hosted UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, provides for closer cooperation and agreement between Cayman and the UK on environmental priorities and action.
Discussions about the UK’s exit from the EU were ongoing throughout the year in anticipation of the January 2021 deadline, and the CIGO- UK represented the Cayman Islands in the Overseas Countries and Territories Association to handle issues around what the future held for the UK OTs within the Association.
As the topic of mental health gained more attention throughout the world, the CIGO-UK assisted with finding participants and speakers for a Mental Health Webinar hosted by UKOTA to increase the understanding of Mental Health issues in Overseas Territories. Cayman Islands charity “Loud Silent Voices” were a keynote speaker at the event and provided a thought provoking discussion on the state of mental health charities in the Overseas Territories.
It was recognised that a partnership with the Cayman Islands diaspora network Cayman Connection was key to reaching and engaging with as many Caymanians around the world as possible and CIGO-UK entered into a new formal partnership with Cayman Connection in November to assist their efforts to connect and support Caymanians around the world. The partnership includes funding for more events and networking opportunities, weekly “virtual yard meetings” to support Caymanians, as well as closer communications strategies between the organisations.
CIGO-UK closed the year with a virtual Christmas party with Cayman Connection to bring together Caymanians overseas and share a slice of Caymankind and Cayman culture to those who were not in Cayman for Christmas. The event included a partnership with Caymanian chef in the UK and Caymanian entertainers and performers in Cayman and the UK.
Despite the challenges of 2020, the CIGOUK has had another busy year and looks forward to developing the initiatives started, the new relationships forged and continuing to represent the Cayman Islands overseas into 2021.
CIGO-UK would like to thank the team, all stakeholders, volunteers, friends and associates who have assisted in continuing great work for Cayman overseas throughout 2020.
Overall Nature & Scope
The Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom (CIGO-UK), established in 1982, supports the extension of the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) activities in the United Kingdom and Europe. The office provides a contact point for Cayman stakeholders, promotes economic, social, cultural, and political understanding of the Cayman Islands, and provides consular and other general governmental services to Caymanians and other stakeholders in the United Kingdom and Europe.
With the provision and feeding in of information and advice to CIG on current events, policy decisions and developments in the UK and Europe based on the office’s press and media alert services, its parliamentary monitoring and reporting, European Union monitoring and reporting, observation of international trade activity, financial services activities and developments, and other statistical data, with the advantage of the time difference, the office is able to keep CIG informed on European activity in real time.
Mission & Functions
- Support the extension of Cayman Islands Government activities in the United Kingdom and Europe.
- Act as a contact point for and provide consular services to Caymanians (especially Caymanian students) and other stakeholders in the United Kingdom and Europe.
- Promote a better economic, social, cultural, and political understanding of the Cayman Islands.
- Gather and disseminate accurate information.
- Develop and maintain strategic links.
- Facilitate inward investment opportunities by providing accurate business establishment information to potential investors.
- Represent the Cayman Islands in the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA), the EU Overseas Countries and Territories Association (EU-OCTA), and at other official, diplomatic and ceremonial events.
- Improve and strengthen the country’s position – politically, economically, and commercially –within the United Kingdom and Europe.
André Ebanks, Representative
Charles Parchment, Deputy Representative
Phillippa Knights, Assistant Representative (Culture, Social & Student Affairs)
Denison Miller, Assistant Representative (Consular Affairs)
Rahat Siddiqi, Business Manager
Melanie Ebanks, Administrative & Communications Assistant
CIGO-UK also contracts external consultants when it requires specialist advice and/or assistance with material projects.
Left to right: Denison Miller, Charles Parchment, André Ebanks, Phillippa Knights, Rahat Siddiqi. (Not pictured: Melanie Ebanks)
KEY 2020 ACHIEVEMENTS
In addition, the CIGO-UK liaises with Her Majesty’s Government (HMG), policymakers and officials, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders; arranges meetings, conferences, and other strategic functions and participates along with CIG delegations during official visits; liaises with relevant private sector stakeholders on behalf of CIG; administers and supports the functioning of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cayman Islands, and attends and participates in UKOTA and the EU-OCTA meetings and related activities.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS WORK IN 2020 INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING:
In conjunction with UKOTA activities The CIGO-UK’s regular diplomatic annual involvement and functions were scaled down as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns and isolated working environments but the office continued to work with UKOTA, OCTA, APPGs and attended other virtual parliamentary events as well as the Friends of Cayman group (FOC), and various Ministries and departments at HMG, primarily to disseminate appropriate information about the Cayman Islands.
- Meeting with new speaker of the house, Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP
- APPG Overseas Territory meeting
- Virtual Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) meeting
Restaurant Association Gala Dinner
The Cayman Islands participated in the British Restaurant Association annual Gala Dinner to showcase the Cayman Islands as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, offering a Heads or Tails prize stay at the Kimpton Seafire Resort.
The Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith, Minister for Pacific and the Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and Stanley Johnson, (father of Boris Johnson PM), met with UKOTA members to discuss environmental funding.
CIGO-UK assisted GirlForce Cayman and 100 Women in Finance with a Westminster tour and partnered with Cayman Connection to host a tour of the City of London.
Vin d’ honneur From Majesty Queen Elizabeth for Her Excellency Barbara Elena Montalvo Alvarez
Phillippa Knights attended the Vin d’ honneur from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for Her Excellency Barbara Elena Montalvo Alvarez, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba.
CIGO-UK assisted with the removal of the Cayman Islands from the EU blacklist
The CIGO-UK was instrumental in assisting the CIG in negotiations to have the Cayman Islands removed from the EU blacklist.
CIGO-UK supported Caymanians Overseas
The CIGO-UK shifted gears early in March to focus on Caymanians in the UK. CIGO-UK attended to the questions and concerns of overseas Caymanians including providing general advice, guidance and updates for those contemplating whether to remain in the UK and assisted with travel arrangements for those who were determined to leave the UK.
CIGO-UK assisted with getting necessary PPE to Cayman
The British Airways flight arrived in Grand Cayman on Monday 6 April. The
flight carried vital supplies for the Islands including urgent pharmaceuticals,
personal protective equipment and test kits.
CIGO-UK assisted Caymanians returning home
CIGO-UK assisted in arranging and ensuring successful Airbridge flights between London Heathrow and Grand Cayman.
CIGO-UK passed on travel responsibilities to Travel Time, while still offering assistance on the ground when needed
Staff at the CIGO-UK passed on much of the logistics to the newly formed ‘Travel Time’ team in Cayman but continued to work hard and put in long hours as part of the cross-government group to ensure the continued successful process for Airbridge flights from London to Cayman.
CIGO-UK were pleased to pass the baton to TravelTime, at the Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs (MITIAMA), who assumed the responsibility as of 1st July 2020.
Digital Welcome pack production and release
CIGO-UK partnered with Cayman Connection UK (CCUK) to launch a Digital Welcome Pack to assist Caymanians living in or moving to the UK.
Friends of Cayman welcomed new chair and new working group
The Friends of Cayman Group welcomed Stephen Webster as the incoming Chair, and in addition to the Financial services and Environmental working groups, formed a new Working Group to focus on community outreach.
CIGO-UK hired Senior Public Affairs Consultant
CIGO-UK hired The Rt. Hon. Mark Field as a senior public affairs consultant. Mr. Field is a former MP and FCO Minister who represented the prestigious central London constituency of the Cities of London and Westminster in the UK Parliament between June 2001 and November 2019.
André Ebanks joined high level panel at CTEC 2020
André Ebanks spoke on a panel at the Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference (CTEC) discussing the future of green economy for the Cayman Islands.
André Ebanks participated on a panel for Island Innovation Small
The partnership that the Cayman Islands embraced with other Overseas Territories and the UK in responding to COVID-19 has been held up as an example of how our jurisdictions can prosper collectively even after the UK leaves the European Union and focuses on the concept of ‘Global Britain’.
UKOTA mental Health webinar
The United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) hosted a powerful Mental Health Webinar on 9 December to increase the understanding of Mental Health issues in Overseas Territories (OTs).
Virtual Yard Meetings
CIGO-UK partnered with CCUK to host online virtual meetings and events for Caymanians overseas.
Virtual Christmas Party in partnership with Cayman Connection (CCUK)
A virtual Cayman cultural Christmas event was organised to alleviate homesickness and share some Caymankind together in December 2020.
Hailing Cayman’s Heroes
While the majority of the population shelters-in-place, frontline workers are putting their lives on the line to provide our essential needs and services.
We now have a deeper understanding of the work it takes to keep our society running smoothly during these challenging times, and want to express heartfelt gratitude to these brave heroes.
From healthcare providers, first responders, uniformed services and public servants, to grocery store employees, gas station attendants, those at our port and airport, utility services and many other essential workers in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, we thank you.
We would not be where we are today were it not for your courage and commitment to your jobs and this country.
The sacrifices you are making on our behalf is truly Caymankindness.
We thank YOU for your service.