Council Employs 25 Times More Interpreters Than 10 Years Ago

Council employs 25 times more interpreters than 10 years ago
A council is employing 25 times more interpreters than 10 years ago as a result of an increase in non-English-speaking immigrants.

The Telegraph (U.K.), May 14, 2010

The number of translators at Milton Keynes Community Language Service has increased from 20 to 300 since 2000.

The centre, part of Milton Keynes Council, now offers services in 84 languages rather than the original 12.

Twi, the second largest language in Ghana, Teluga, spoken in India, and Yoruva, used in Nigeria, are included on the centre's list.

The centre provides a free 24-hour service to immigrants helping them understand housing, health, police and legal matters in Milton Keynes, Luton, Bedford and Northampton.

Staff are currently in the process of recruiting a further 20 interpreters and plan to add Pashto, an Afghan language, by the end of the year.

Gloria Drew, co-ordinator for the centre, said the services were in ''great demand'' and the nature of users had changed significantly over the years.

She said: ''We have definitely seen an large increase in demand for our services and for different languages. When we first started we were helping those who were highly educated with professional jobs such as doctors.

''Now their relatives have arrived and they are not as highly educated and need our help more.

''Milton Keynes is a very multi-cultural and welcoming city with people from all over the world who speak many different languages living here.

''Our services are in great demand and we are often needed to help at health centres, various areas within the council, hospitals and law courts.

''The interpreters all have a six day training assessment which is very intense because they have to learn all the terminology for social services, health and housing.''

Milton Keynes Community Language Service is a self-funded body, as it charges 'hirers' by appointment and pays a proportion of the fee direct to the translators.