February dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

1st February: Chinese New Year

This huge celebration is also known as Spring Festival and, as Chinese people return home to see family, creates one of the biggest movements of people worldwide. Celebrations include sweeping out the home, giving gifts of money in traditional red envelopes, putting up traditional paper decorations and eating special foods.

5th February: Vasant Panchami

This festival also welcomes spring and kicks off preparations for Holi, another Indian celebration. Hindus and Jains pray to Goddess Saraswati and many dress in yellow to symbolise the new beginnings of the season.

27th February: Meatfare Sunday

For Orthodox Christians, this date is the last opportunity to eat meat before Lent begins, and many will fast until Easter. Celebrations on this day tend to involve getting together with family and feasting on meat, in preparation for the forty days of privation ahead.

 

February calendar

1st Chinese New Year – Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist
Imbolc – Lughnassadh – Wicca/Pagan
World Hijab Day
World Interfaith Harmony Week begins
2nd Candlemas (Presentation of Christ in the Temple) – Christian
3rd Setsubun-sai – Shinto
4th World Cancer Day
5th Vasant Panchami – Hindu
6th Zacchaeus Sunday – Orthodox Christian
Time to Talk Day
7th UK Race Equality Week begins
8th Safer Internet Day
11th International Day of Women and Girls in Science
World Day of the Sick
12th Red Hand Day for Child Soldiers
13th Triodion begins – Orthodox Christian
Autism Sunday
14th Saint Valentine’s Day
15th Parinirvana Day/Nirvana Day – Buddhist
International Childhood Cancer Day
16th Magha Puja (Sangha Day) – Buddhist
17th World Human Spirit Day
20th Sunday of the Prodigal Son – Orthodox Christian
World Day of Social Justice
25th Intercalary Days begin – Baha’i
International stand up to Bullying Day
27th Meatfare Sunday – Orthodox Christian
28th Lailat al Miraj – Islam

Are you celebrating any festivals this month? Please get in touch and tell us all about it! Email nicole.kershaw@newham.gov.uk.

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Celebrations around the world: Lailat al Miraj, 28th February

TLS delves deeper into the festivals and events celebrated by different cultures around the world. This month we look at Lailat al Miraj on 28th February.

What: Lailat al Miraj is one of Islam’s most important dates, as it marks the Prophet Mohammed’s ascension into heaven.

Where: It is celebrated by Muslims across the world, both in mosques and family homes.

Why: The story of Lailat al Miraj begins in Mecca, where the Prophet was visited by two archangels. The angels gave the Prophet a winged animal called a Buraq, which he then rode from Mecca to the ‘farthest mosque’, Al Aqsa in Jerusalem. The Prophet ascended to heaven where he met all the previous prophets and joined them in prayer. Eventually he met God, who passed down the special instructions for Muslims to pray five times daily, known as ‘Salat’.

How: Celebrations are held in mosques or at home, where people make special additions to their night-time prayers. Parents also recite the story to their children.

Are you celebrating Leilat al Miraj? Please get in touch and tell us all about it! Email nicole.kershaw@newham.gov.uk

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British Sign Language bill receives government support

Two deaf students in library using British Sign Language

A Labour MP has received cross-party backing for a bill that would make British Sign Language (BSL) an officially recognised language. This would compel the government and public bodies to follow new guidance on BSL support for service users. The bill would also call for a British Sign Language Council to be set up, to promote the use of the language.

The bill must now go to committee stage, but its support from across the political spectrum in the Commons will give it a considerable advantage.

If you have a service user who needs BSL support, please call 020 3373 4000 to arrange a booking pr contact us on languageshop@newham.gov.uk

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


Translation of Covid-19 information essential to public health, say health campaigners

Lateral flow rapid antigen tests for covid-19

In Australia, a recent move to more home testing for Covid-19 has once again highlighted the importance of translating health information into community languages.

Health campaigners have asked the Australian government to provide information to those without English on why they should test, how to test and what to do with the results.

In the US, local government bodies have also come in for criticism for a series of poor translations of Covid-19 related public health information. The Biden administration has released information on home testing in the country’s leading languages of English, Spanish and Mandarin, but campaigners fear this still leaves many without access to vital information.

The Australian campaign has asked for images on how to test to be included in instructions. In the UK, NHS home testing kits already provide pictograms, so that anyone with limited English and literacy is able to conduct the tests. Translations of the information are also available in many community languages online here.

If your service users need information provided in their own language by a qualified translator, please get in touch.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


Customer survey results give TLS a glowing report

TLS customer survey report

It has been another year of rapid change and growth for TLS. We continue to meet the challenges of the global pandemic, building on our remote services and refining our processes so that we can provide you with a seamless, high-quality service, whatever the changing circumstances.

With our customer survey launched late last year, we were keen to find out how the changes we have been making are going down with you, our customers.

The headline news from the results is that our remote (telephone and video) interpreting services are increasingly popular, with 87% of customers having used them. What is more, they are even more well-received: 89% of respondents said that they found the booking process easy or very easy (up from 85% in 2020), and 88% reported that the language support they received was of high or very high quality (up from 80%). Nothing makes us happier than word of mouth recommendations, and these were up too: 98% would recommend our remote services to a colleague or friend, compared to 97% in 2020.

Overall, satisfaction with TLS support staff was very high too, with 97% reporting that the team was friendly and polite, and 96% saying the support they provided was excellent or good.

We are delighted with these results and look forward to building on the successes of last year.

If you would like to know more about the results of our customer survey or have any other feedback, please contact Nicole Kershaw by emailing nicole.kershaw@newham.gov.uk

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th January

What: Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is an international day of commemoration for the six million Jews and others who died at the hands of the Nazis, as well as those who have since died in genocides elsewhere in the world.

Where: HMD can be marked anywhere in the world.

Why: The date of 27 January was chosen to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, by the Soviet Red Army. The day serves as a reminder of our shared history, and why it is important to remain vigilant to injustice. The day is not only about avoiding future genocide but also resisting persecution and discrimination. With anti-Semitism and other racism on the rise, it remains as important as ever.

How: Anyone can hold an HMD activity. The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website has advice about how, where and when, as well as free images and resources. Visit their site for more information on the day and how to host an event.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


Celebrations around the world: Lohri, 13th January

TLS delves deeper into the festivals and events celebrated by different cultures around the world. This month we look at Lohri, which takes place on 13th January..

What: Lohri is a celebration honouring Agni, the god of fire, which marks the winter solstice and gives thanks for the harvest, which is just beginning to come to fruition in January. Festivities take place during the month of Paush or Magh, so the date is not fixed in the Gregorian (western) calendar and changes each year.

Where: Lohri is celebrated mainly in the Punjab and Haryana regions of India, however the Indian diaspora hold celebrations across the world.

Why: As well as giving thanks for the harvest, Lohri celebrations often also refence a folk hero. In 16th century Punjab, there was a Rajput peasant called Dulla Bhattiwala. He came from a long line of rebels against Mughal rule and was similarly inclined. Bhattiwala would save girls who had been sold into slavery, often marrying them off and paying the dowry himself. He is sometimes called the Robin Hood of Punjab! His name is celebrated in a traditional Punjabi song that is performed during Lohri.

How: The centre of Lohri celebrations is the bonfire, around which people dance and sing special songs. Families exchange gifts and sweets, and eat makki ki roti (corn based roti) and sarson ka saag (spinach, mustard leaves and fenugreek cooked together).

Are you celebrating Lohri? Please get in touch and tell us all about it by emailing nicole.kershaw@newham.gov.uk.

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Are you getting the most from your bookings? Don’t miss our free training

Due to the success of our previous free 'Introduction to TLS Services' virtual training sessions, we are now offering them regularly, on the last Wednesday of every month throughout 2022.

The training explains all the various types of interpreting available, and which services are best suited to different contexts. We will look in detail at how and when to book an interpreter, the best practice for working alongside interpreters and provide an opportunity to ask any questions with a member of our team. Participants can also get a certificate of attendance once they have completed the training along with a TLS Training Information Pack.

The virtual training takes just half an hour and you can sign up via our Eventbrite here.

If you have any questions, please contact Nicole Kershaw by emailing nicole.kershaw@newham.gov.uk  

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


UK language industry health check tells a positive story

The Association of Translation Companies has published research into the performance of the UK language industry in 2021, revealing a very positive picture, despite the dual impact of Brexit and Covid-19.

While very few businesses have thrived in the last 18 months, the research suggests language service providers have generally made good decisions and showed the kind of flexibility that has served them and their customers well; for example, 56% of companies have recorded growth.

This is certainly our experience at The Language Shop, and it seems we are reflected in the ATC’s comments: “What truly stands out in this year’s survey is the robust and scrappy mid-market segment which makes up the bulk of the UK language services industry. Companies have largely been pushing the right buttons, focusing on their areas of expertise and making smart use of language technology to service their clients.”

To read the whole report, click here.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


Celebrations around the world: Diwali, 2nd - 6th November

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. It takes place over five days, around the beginning of November.

Diwali falls at the beginning of the Hindu new year and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, both in the sense of the fireworks and diwas that are used to illuminate the joyous occasion and in the metaphorical victory of knowledge over ignorance. Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is honoured during the festival, and celebrations are also linked to the famous legend of lovers Rama and Sita, who were welcomed back from their exile in the forest with a row of diwa lamps.

Each of Diwali’s five days has its own name and is celebrated differently. Dhanteras is for cleaning the home and buying new items for the home. Choti Diwali is when people decorate their homes and create rangoli designs on the floors. The third day, the most important, is Diwali, and this is when homage is paid to Lakshmi, lights are lit, firework displays are held and families get together to eat. Padwa is for husbands and wives to exchange gifts, and the final day of Bhai Duj is for siblings to celebrate their bond.

Are you celebrating Diwali? Please get in touch and tell us how! We would love to hear from you, email nicole.kershaw@newham.gov.uk

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn