Need a community interpreter?

As our newest Community Interpreters prepare to receive their qualifications and start work, we’re putting the word out to community organisations in Birmingham: the Gateway Interpreting Agency is here to help!

Does your organisation need interpreting support?

The Gateway Interpreting Agency provides specialist interpreting services to community, voluntary and public sector organisations. We are especially interested to hear from organisations working with hard-to-reach communities in Birmingham, who might need access to qualified community interpreters. Our interpreters are trained to CERTA Level 2, but have also been specially trained in safeguarding, confidentiality and other specialist skills that community work requires.

When our current trainees qualify, it will increase the list of languages we cover to 26:

Amharic Arabic Bengali Creole
Dutch Farsi French Hindi
Hindko Italian Kurdish Lithuanian
Mirpuri Oromo Polish Portuguese
Punjabi Pushtu Romanian Russian
Somali Spanish Sudanese Tigrinya
Urdu Vietnamese    

Our interpreters are already successfully working with a number of organisations, including Refugee Action (in fact, Gateway interpreters welcomed the first Syrian refugees to Birmingham!) and charities like WAITS, who work with victims of domestic abuse:

“Gateway’s interpreting service has been extremely useful to us in helping us to communicate effectively with clients despite the language barriers. Booking has always been efficient, prompt and straightforward. The interpreters are professional, friendly and have always delivered an excellent service. Thank you so much.” — Natalie Clarke, WAITS

If your community organisation needs interpreters and you’d like to find out more about using the Gateway Interpreting Agency, give us a call on 0121 456 7820.

(We are NOT currently taking on more interpreters. However, if you are fluent in Albanian, Tigrinya, Mandarin or Spanish, get in touch; we might be interested in speaking to you about future recruitment.)

What is a community interpreter?

Sarah and Eva
Course tutor Sarah Clay with new interpreter Joanna

All of our interpreters have experience of interpreting in the community and the public sector, including social work, health and education. We’re particularly interested in working with people who have been unemployed for a while and want to get back into work, using the language skills they already have to do something practical and rewarding.

The Gateway Community Interpreting course formalises people’s previous experience, cementing their knowledge, giving them a qualification and a platform to progress with confidence.

All of our recruits complete the CERTA Level 2 Award in Preparation for Work in Community Interpreting. This nationally recognised qualification gives interpreters the knowledge, skills and techniques needed to work in the context of public services, including health, housing, education, welfare and social services.

Sarah and Joanna
Course tutor Sarah Clay with new interpreter Anca

However, the Community Interpreting course we run at Gateway also adds a greater emphasis to the topics of data protection, boundaries and confidentiality, and safeguarding. Because of our extensive experience working with vulnerable people, we know how important it is for an interpreter to have this knowledge and to use these extra skills professionally.

The course is expensive for us to run so, although we heavily subsidise it, each new recruit pays a contribution towards their training. However, as a Community Interest Company (CIC), all of Gateway Interpreting Agency’s profits are directly invested back into our community work and services. The interpreters we’ve taken on so far tell us they like the fact that the agency cut of the money they’re generating goes into serving the community and not into someone’s pocket.

Meet some of the new recruits

Our latest recruits speak a number of the languages we’ve seen a need for in Birmingham over the last few months – both through our current agency work, and through our other services, including Pregnancy Outreach Workers, Health Trainers and Gateway Healthy Futures.

Polish: Eva and Joanna

Eva has already been working as an interpreter for two and a half years but took the opportunity to gain a certificate in the hope that this will bring more work. She’s primarily worked in health settings but the course has enabled her to broaden her knowledge of the wider public sector. She says, “I like helping people and the feedback you get as an interpreter is very rewarding. I especially like the fact that Gateway works with organisations like Women’s Aid – I’m looking forward to doing more community work.”

Joanna’s background is in Adult Education, but she has found herself interpreting on a casual basis more and more as part of her work in a Further Education college. She says, “I’ve been helping Polish-speaking people to fill in forms for things like housing and benefits for many years now – so I thought I might as well start to use my skills professionally. There’s a big Polish community in Birmingham but people just aren’t aware of the help and support that’s available to them. As a Community Interpreter I’ll be able to help people understand more about living here and how everything works.”

Bengali and the Sylheti dialect: Najma and Nurpashan

Najma has been a social worker in Birmingham for 20 years, so community work is a big part of her life. She wants to move into interpreting so that she can maintain a work/life balance whilst continuing to work in the community. She says, “after doing a few interpreting jobs through another agency, I wanted to do a qualification to consolidate my knowledge – you could say it’s putting my practice into theory! This Gateway course is a great opportunity.”

Nurpashan took a career break from Local Authority work to raise her children, but has been interpreting for family and friends all her life. She says, “interpreting is very rewarding when you can help someone to access the support they need. But when you’re interpreting for family it’s easy to go into advice mode! This course has helped me to stay impartial, keeping my opinions out of it and just concentrating on the words.”

Anca: Romanian

Anca has worked in the health sector for three years but has found herself acting as interpreter many times. Now she’s formalising that experience with a qualification. She says, “although I work in health, I’ve been helping people with all sorts of issues, including housing and even law. When you’re new to the country and don’t speak the language you don’t always understand the systems and it’s easy to find yourself in trouble with fines or even court. Becoming a qualified interpreter will give me more opportunities to help people.”

Paul: Creole, Dutch, French, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Spanish…

Paul is a language sponge! He loves learning about new cultures and admits he seems to have a gift for learning new languages. He says, “I’d done some interpreting work in-house in previous roles, and translated for friends and family, but I recently decided to get some formal qualifications. I’ve already done an Introduction to a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI), but the community aspect of the Gateway course appealed to me. I enjoy broadening my knowledge and look forward to working in more community settings.”

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