How do translation services protect our rights?

Human rights are a cornerstone of British society, but to fully benefit from their protection, it is important that we can discuss them.

For charities, government agencies and rights organizations across the UK, translation services are unsung heroes protecting people’s human rights. Every right enshrined in the Human Rights Act (HRA) is supported by translation services, which can enable people to access rights they may never have known they had .

In the UK, people speak hundreds of different languages, including some of the most common, other than English, including Polish, Urdu, Arabic and Punjabi. Translation services make a significant contribution to the functioning of the country. Such services, in everything from health care and immigration to human resources and education, enable service providers to reach out to clients who might not otherwise able to communicate their needs.

clear voicewhich operates under the aegis of the parent company Help for migrants, is a non-profit organization that provides interpreting services in approximately 200 languages. Its services are extensive and include professional telephone interpreting, face-to-face interpreting and video interpreting.

“We have a very wide range of clients: large government contracts, local authorities, NHS, education and human resources departments,” said Rachael Tew, sales and partnerships manager for Clear Voice. “We cover a very wide range of types of situations that could be useful for human rights. It’s giving people a voice. Without translation, they would have no voice.

How can translation services protect people’s rights?

Even though their rights are protected by the HRA, any asylum seeker or immigrant entering the UK will often face multiple hurdles before they can settle comfortably in the country. Translation services make it possible to better meet their needs.

“We have a 24-hour helpline where asylum seekers can call us anytime, day or night, to discuss any issues or support they may need or concerns they have,” said Anna Ware, director of strategy and engagement for migrant relief. “A big part of that is signaling for mental health support, which is very important right now, or legal support, letting them know what they’re entitled to.”

Without translation services, the maze of paperwork associated with the immigration and refugee claim processes would, for many, be impossible to navigate. Organizations like Migrant Help use translation services to help migrants and refugees in the UK ensure they can stay.

“Interpretation is key to working with our clients, whether it’s modern slavery, asylum services or even things like the EU settlement scheme, where EU citizens EU must apply for UK settlement status,” Ware added. “Most of the time people don’t speak English very well and people may not even understand what a settlement plan is or that they have to apply for one in order not to be deported.”

For those arriving in the UK from countries where human rights are not enshrined in law, translation services give refugees and migrants the knowledge to protect their new rights.

Sham Kyriakakis is Program Manager for Break down barriers, an organization that uses translation services on a daily basis to enable refugees in London to gain stable and fulfilling jobs. “When you are able to speak someone’s first language, you are able to explain their rights to state support, such as employment benefits and what they have access to,” he said. declared. “It is very strongly linked to their well-being, their safety and their future. By informing people you are protecting them from abuse and ensuring that they are making use of the rights given to them under UK law which they might not necessarily have had in their country of origin.

Migrant Help also recognizes the power of translation services to educate newcomers about the rights they are now entitled to.

“When an asylum seeker is destitute they are entitled to certain things like housing, but in some countries when you are destitute there is no support,” Ware said. “So when people call the helpline and say, ‘We have nothing, I have nowhere to stay’, it is very helpful to have someone from the same country explain to them what they are entitled to. .”

Translation, especially when done by someone from the same country or region, also builds trust between the organization and the service user, which increases the likelihood that they will turn to the organization to get the help he needs.

“In the UK, we always try to encourage clients to speak English as much as possible, so they have the opportunity to practice and develop,” said Louise Thomson, program manager for Breaking Barriers. “But we’ve found that sharing a native language with a customer is, for obvious reasons, very important for building rapport and building trust. If we have a member of staff who speaks the same language as a customer, it is good that they can have conversations in the native language.

During the pandemic, the demand for translation services has skyrocketed. Without easy access to family members who previously acted as translators, many have had to tap into other available resources.

“Most people suffered during Covid, businesses collapsed, but we grew massively,” Tew explained. “People who could have used their friend or family member or whatever to do the interpretation were no longer able to meet and do that.”

What challenges are UK translation services facing?

As in all industries, there are obstacles that make the translation process more difficult, especially the availability of translators for lesser-known languages.

The UK is a melting pot of cultures from around the world and 2011 census data showed that 864,000 people in England and Wales said they spoke little or no English. Translation services help fill this gap, but only if they can find as staff or volunteers those who speak the required languages.

Following the recent crisis in Afghanistan, Breaking Barriers has attempted to recruit more translators to meet the needs of Afghan refugees settling in the UK.

“One thing we’ve really, really struggled with is recruiting Dari and Pashto speakers following the Afghan crisis over the summer,” Thomson said. “We’ve had a lot of interest from companies and other organizations wanting to know how they can help.”

She continued, “A lot of people were saying they could give us some funding to hire someone who speaks the Afghan languages, which is great, but we’re really, really struggling because we’re not getting much of nominations. We don’t know where these communities are, so that’s definitely a gap from our perspective, at the moment.

Although the UK government provides free translation in sectors such as healthcare, in other areas the cost may be prohibitive for some people with little or no English. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can apply for funding for translation services through a new Internationalization Fundset up by the International Trade Department. The diet should support up to 7,600 recipients to internationalize their business, using a £38million pot.

While funding is channeled towards the internationalization of businesses, charities and non-profit organizations depend on government grants, individual donations and support from partner organizations. To protect the human rights of everyone, translation services must continue to make noise about their successes to ensure they receive the investment needed to protect the rights of all of the UK’s evolving population. .

Connie A. Bailey