Valerie Okoampah

Member of the Race for Opportunity Youth Advisory Panel. A group of young people aged between 16 & 24 years old chosen to work with Race for Opportunity to find solutions to the challenges of unemployment and progression.


Currently, I am studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent
I joined the panel because I believe a youth panel tackling such a prominent issue such as youth unemployment is an active way forward to tackle one of the major issues young people face today. I want to be in a position where I can empower other young people with the skills and knowledge required to not only be successfully employed, but to overcome any challenges, worries and fears that may prevent them from achieving and being their best. I love meeting new people and I am looking forward to working with the panel.

Thoughts on Work Experience at the Home Office 2013

Working at the Home Office overall was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about the civil service directly and gain a better understanding of how the government operates behind the scenes.

My first week consisted of a tour of the Home Office where I was shown where different departments within the Home Office operated. On the day of my induction I was able to attend a meeting with members of staff from the Human Resources department which was called “No Barriers”.  “No Barriers” was a workshop run by the HR team that enabled staff members to communicate any issues of concern that they had either with their workplace or with their managers. The workshop was based on results from staff surveys. This taught me about the internal operations that are present in workplaces to enable members of staff to achieve their full potential.

During my first week, I was placed in the Crime and Policing Group. My main task was to review a variety of organisations whose main priority was to prevent/reduce young people at risk of gangs, guns and knives. The objective  of reviewing such organisations was to identify the most effective initiatives in preventing or reducing criminal activity amongst young people most at risk, and then produce a report outlining the best initiatives.
Additionally, while working with Crime and Policing Group, I was granted the opportunity to attend a variety of meetings including one on Women and Gangs which provided me with an insight into the difficulties that women and young girls come across through gang association and the sexual exploitation that they may come across.

I was also able to attend a master class on Leadership and a psychology lesson about personalities, which I really enjoyed because it enabled me to develop my understanding of different types of people, thus how to adapt to them in order to bring out their best potential, both personally and in the workplace.
Following on from the Crime and Policing Group, I then worked in the International Directorate department of the Home Office. As a Politics and International Relations student, spending two week with International Directorate was very useful to my field of study because I learnt about the UK’s relationship to different countries in regards to financial constraints, immigration and security. In the course of these two weeks, I was granted the opportunity to once again attend very insightful meetings, including meetings which were held at the Foreign Office about Egypt and Syria.

Overall, working at the Home Office was a wonderful opportunity as I feel not only was I able to learn about different government departments within the Home Office, but equally I was able to develop personal skills of concise note-taking, networking and confidence.

I believe working at the Home Office was a useful platform to generally develop a greater understanding of the architecture behind the government.
All departments  took to me well by making me feel part of their team and constantly ensuring that I felt comfortable in my working environment.
I am grateful to all those at the Home Office and Race for Opportunity  for providing a very good, useful and enjoyable work experience for me and I look forward to hopefully one day working there again.