Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Can we survive the dangers of the public sector language gap?

25 April 2017

Can we survive the dangers of the public sector language gap?
Public services provide for the welfare and wellbeing of the UK’s residents. Police and court services, medical care and the NHS, housing provision and local government administration are all vital resources, but some UK residents are being excluded from this support because of the language they speak.
While there is a national requirement for public sector workers in the UK to possess English (or Welsh) language fluency, there is no explicit stipend to cater to foreign language speakers. Provision is made for sign language interpreters, and to facilitate communication with the blind, but rarely caters to those with foreign language requirements.
Considering the broad range of languages spoken across the UK, further provision for both public sector interpreters, translators and transcriptionists are needed to enable non-english speakers to access public sector services. The Serious Case Review following the death of Daniel Pelka, aged 5, made this very important point:
“Without proactive or consistent action by any professional to engage with him via an interpreter, then his lack of language and low confidence would likely have made it almost impossible for him to reveal the abuse he was suffering at home.”

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