Radio 4 air an important and rare insight into the work of public service interpreting:
This is how they describe the programme:
How does it feel to be a voice for the voiceless? This radio documentary gives a fascinating insight into the gruelling work of public service interpreters in the UK, through the personal story of Isaac, a Glasgow-based Urdu interpreter. Isaac interprets for high profile murder trials, retelling devastating personal stories in asylum statements, taking police statements in the middle of the night, and delivering life-changing news in healthcare settings. It’s a profession where every word matters.
In the courts, the right words are the difference between freedom or imprisonment. In the asylum system, they are the difference between safety and danger. In health settings, they are the difference between life and death.
The stakes are high, and interpreters need to be highly trained in order to make the right choices under pressure. Despite the potential consequences of misinterpretation, there are concerns that standards are dropping, partly due to the challenges of outsourcing to agencies.
We hear from those raising the alarm – an ex-agency employee, an agency CEO pushing for a better way of operating, the director of the National Register of Public Service Interpreters whose mandate is to protect the public, and a refugee who had a terrible experience during his asylum statement. Isaac and his interpreting colleagues ask an important question – who is looking out for them? Exposed to extreme and traumatic situations on a daily basis, how can they let off steam without breaking confidentiality rules? What can be done to protect the public service interpreters whose skills are vital to our society?
SIS has a focus on Community Interpreting for health and social care. We do not work with the police, courts or for the Home Office. However, many of the challenges and pressures overlap.
We work hard to meet these challenges, to support interpreters, to maintain quality standards to sustain rates of pay that stop any `race to the bottom`.
We look to our Commissioners to understand and to support professional practice.
We are proud of all of our Community Interpreters – they do an amazing job and ensure a Voice for the Voiceless.
Arran – Director.