Salvation Army welcomes refugee family to a new life in London with interpreting support from Interpreters Portal

Sep 8, 2021

Many of us will be familiar with the good work and reputation of the Salvation Army in supporting people in distress across the country. In partnership with other East London churches they are also involved in an initiative to support the resettlement of refugee families backed by both the Home Office and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Who are the refugees?

A family of four have been refugees for almost 30 years, travelling from one war torn country to another. The Salvation Army has committed to help the family start their new life in the UK. Their support encompasses everything they need to build a new life – from a roof over their heads, to cutlery, bedding, furniture, emotional support, and care. This included ensuring they had the means to communicate while they learned English language, customs, and expectations.

What are the challenges?

It’s almost impossible to begin to appreciate the family’s feelings on coming to a new country after such a traumatic time. Feelings of upheaval, loss, excitement, apprehension, fear, and potential isolation. Ensuring they have means of communicating in their own language is crucial to helping the family feel less isolated from day one.

On top of this being a challenge in “normal”  times, this family is relocating right in the middle of the Covid19 pandemic. As we all know this brings a whole new level of restrictions, checks, and assessments to ensure everyone’s safety.

Our bespoke interpreting solution.

We approach every new service in the same way. We take the time to fully understand each client’s specific criteria for an assignment. This is no different. We listen, question and really appreciate the key concerns for this client. With a full picture we are able to perfectly match our client’s exact criteria to an interpreter skill set and experience. Our interpreting services are bespoke and tailored for every client. 

In this case our chosen interpreter has previously worked with 11 refugee families under this initiative. Alongside their understanding and knowledge, they are also conveniently located just a few miles from the family’s new home. It’s easy for them to support the family’s face-to-face meetings and scheduled virtual appointments.  

Navigating the Covid restrictions is its own challenge. The interpreter takes a Covid test 48 hours before the family arrives in the country. As a back-up we have a second interpreter on hand, with a negative Covid test, in case things don’t go to plan at the last moment. Language support is a vital part of the family’s initial immersion into UK life and we take our role incredibly seriously. 

Interpreting support from day one.

Our support for the family in the few weeks is pretty intensive with the interpreter being a temporary extension of the Salvation Army team. From meeting the family at the airport, the interpreter travelled back to their new home with them to settle them. This includes showing them how things work in the house and introducing them to the community team. Over the next two weeks the interpreter attends twice daily face-to-face and virtual meetings. After their initial settling in period, the family attends many meetings with doctors, banks, Universal Credit, ESOL, schools, and the Job Centre all with the same interpreter on hand assisting them. We always try to work with the same interpreter for assignments that span multiple meetings. It really helps with building confidence and continuity, which is especially important in sensitive situations like this. 

Alongside the in person support from the same interpreter, we also provide an emergency 24/7 contact number so the family can easily connect with an Arabic interpreter should there be any unforeseen circumstances.  

At InterpretersPortal we are always keen to stress to all our clients that no one size ever fits all. Our work with the Salvation Army and the family really is a true testament to that being the case.

Our group works in community sponsorship of refugees, and we are resettling a family here in the UK. We were really impressed with our interpreter’s experience of working on similar projects and the rapport that she had with both the family and the team. She really helped us give the family the best start here in the UK! Ben Still

E123 Welcomes Project Manager, Stepney Salvation Army

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