Helping people in complex situations

We were contacted recently by a Social Worker from one of the Local Authorities we work with.  They were trying to support a teenager who had been trafficked into the UK.  It was proving difficult to establish which language the person spoke – there were three possibilities.

The Police and Social Services were trying hard to communicate with the traumatised young person and only had their ID card as evidence of country of origin.  These are often an inaccurate reflection of the language spoken and can be forgeries.

Our Coordinator spoke with the Social Worker at length to see how we could help.  The young person may also be illiterate and have cognitive issues.  It is so hard to establish support when there is a communication barrier.

The only other `clue` was that the person seemed to respond to a TV programme in one of the three languages.  We contacted a SIS interpreter who shared some useful cultural information, which we relayed to the Social Worker.

We then arranged for an interpreter to speak briefly the same day with the foster carer and young person and set up a longer interpreting appointment for the next day.

We will continue to work with all services to maintain interpreting support for this complex situation.